Skillz and Drillz

Whether you are new to Olympic weightlifting or you’ve been at it a while, there are always weakness in your lifts that need addressing. My coach is fortunate enough to get to train at California Strength with Coach Glenn Pendlay. Last week we introduced No Hand/No Feet lifting, mainly because I over pull. Guess what, my first session using the technique only served to expose the fact that I ‘over pull’ and fail to use my arms to pull under the bar. Weird, huh?

You aren’t sure what the No Hand/No Feet thing is all about? Here’s a demo

And, as if by magic, Jon North has created another drill, that I’m hoping will further aid my technical development – mainly the use of my arms and timing of the third pull

I’m at a point in my training where the focus is on conditioning with a strength maintenance, so I’m comfortable with making these technical changes to my lifts. If you’re not improving, you are just standing still, right?

Oh, whilst I’m on the Skillz n Drillz train, check this one out. Again this comes from the guys at Cal Strength AND, surprise, surprise, I really like it!


Tuesday’s WOD

AMRAP in 8 minutes

10 push press, 60kg

10 box jumps, 30″

20 GHD sit-ups

Rest 5 minutes

1km row

4 rounds + 10 reps

1km row in 3:29

Tomorrow’s session sees a return of the No Hands/No Feet snatch and a humdinger of a metcon! Stay tuned!






Since the start of 2012 my programming has seen a focus on increasing the conditioning volume and intensity, especially running volume. My feelings and relationship with running are well documented. I.DON’T.LIKE.IT…but I know it needs to be done. Since starting 2012 I’ve run a few 5ks and 5x800s etc. All of which I didn’t enjoy in the slightest. However, just like a hostage can begin to feel affection towards their captors – I actually enjoyed my runnning session today. Sssshhhh, don’t tell Coach, he’ll program more.


Back squat to heavy single – 185kg

90%x3 – 167.5×3

80% for max reps – 147.5×13

Since having shingles at the tail end of last year I just haven’t been in the groove with my squat. Had my head been in the game, I could’ve hit 15 reps today for sure.


200m – 0:28:05

400m – 1:00:8

800m – 2:23:5 (on a 400m turnaround)

400m – 1:00:5

200m – 0:29:4


I was really pleased with the 400 times, considering that they were run up hill (so were the 200s, but I’m not so pleased with them!)

I have a WOD with a 1 mile run, 1200m run and 800m run on Wednesday. I don’t think I’m going to enjoy that quite as much as I enjoyed today! :-/



Training at a Box

Until you’ve trained in a box you can’t quite understand the focus and intensity it brings. Normally I train at work – I’m fortunate enough to have access to lifting platforms, bars, bumpers, pull-up bars…it’s just like a box…only it’s work, it’s my office. How well would you train at work? ūüėČ

Dan Crisp, in all his awesomeness, has just opened CrossFit Glevum in Gloucester. It’s 20 minutes from where I work and I’m able to get there once a week at the moment. The box is awesome – filled with brand spanking new Rogue Fitness kit from top to bottom…the Rogue wooden rings are a particular favourite! Which brings me neatly onto yesterdays WOD. It was a 10 minute AMRAP including power cleans, muscle ups and pistols…only the power clean was at 120kg and the muscle ups, whilst only 3 reps, were strict. I only missed one clean and all the muscle ups were unbroken…at the end of the 10 minutes I felt like I could have carried that pace on for another 10 minutes.



10min AMRAP

1 power clean, 120kg

3 strict MUs

12 pistols, alternating legs

8 rounds

Thursday (today)

15min AMRAP

15 pull-ups

15 push-ups

15 GHD sit-ups

9 rounds + 30 reps

All reps unbroken…the GHDs slowed me down some though!


Donny Shankle – The Don – The 2012 Olympian

This comes from my coach, Jacob Tsypkin. Jacob is lucky enough to get to train with Donny at California Strength on Fridays.

“Donny has a very good chance of being the only male who will represent the U.S. in weightlifting at the 2012 Olympics. Weightlifting is an extremely non-lucrative sport here in the U.S. Even the best lifters hold full time jobs and strugg…le to support themselves. Weightlifting is also a very demanding sport – physically, mentally, and emotionally. In the final months of his preparation for Olympic trials, Donny is asking for donations to help him ease his workload so that he can concentrate on training and recovery. For the last few months, I have had the privilege of training with Donny and his team at California Strength once a week, and I can say that he is a tremendous person to be around: a former Marine and veteran of the Iraq war, a fierce competitor, and inspirational merely through presence. If you can spare a few dollars, I’d like to ask you to head to and donate, to help Donny train harder than ever, and achieve the dream he’s worked so hard for – representing the United States of America in the 2012 Olympic Games.”
The CrossFit community is extremely close nit and can achieve great things. I have first hand experience of this. In 2010, I won the UK CrossFit Games Sectional. However due to my wife getting hit head on by a lorry, whilst 38 weeks pregnant, I was unable to go to the European Regionals in Halmstad. CrossFit HQ kindly arranged for me to attend the North East Regionals in Albany, NY. The worldwide CrossFit community came together and, through very generous donations, paid for my flights and accomodation in the space of 7 days.
As much as I love CrossFit and The CrossFit Games, we are talking about helping an amazing athlete GO TO THE OLYMPICS! I know times are hard but lets help Donny focus all his energy on training rather than worry about working a 9-5 as well.

Ebb and Flow

There are many facets of fitness. The CrossFit Journal lists 10 general physical skills:

1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance – The ability of body systems togather, process, and deliver oxygen.
2. Stamina – The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.
3. Strength – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.
4. Flexibility – the ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.
5. Power – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.
6. Speed – The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.
7. Coordination – The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.
8. Agility – The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.
9. Balance – The ability to control the placement of the bodies center of gravity in relation to its support base.
10. Accuracy – The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.

Trying to make increases in all of these aspects, all of the time is pretty tough. If you are a conditioning monster but you need to get stronger to compete, you’ll find that sacrificing some conditioning sessions for lfiting sessions is the best way of achieving it. If your lifitng numbers are redonkulous but you need to up your conditioning to be able to compete, guess what? YOU NEED TO HAVE A CONDITIONING BIAS…yes, I know, that SUCKS!

This is where I’m at right now! I’ve documented in previous posts about my lifting bias in the second half of last year, sacrificing my conditioning level in the process. Now, with the Open looming, and Regionals in the not too distant future, my training is more conditioning centered. I am enjoying it, yes. Does it suck, YES! It sucks, mainly, because I love lifting. I find getting strong easier than building a faster engine. I miss lifting…only getting 2-3 lifting days/week rather than 5 is a big mental issue for me. I snatched today, and lots of bad habits that I’d been able to rectify seemed to creep back in…I managed to post 92.5kg quite comfortably but 95kg felt like I’d added 10kg! I’m going to try and not dwell on it too much. I understand that plan that we (me and Coach Tsypkin) have.

Just to clarify things – THE PLAN IS TO QUALIFY FOR THE 2012 CROSSFIT GAMES. (There, I’ve said it.)

Your training will ebb and flow. From that list above, you’ll find that different skills will develop at different speeds. Some will develop more when you ease off on others. Take a look at your numbers, know your weakness. Make sure your sessions have more ebb the flow…in any of the 10 general physical skills.

Today’s WOD

Snatch to a heavy single


3 rounds for time:

500m row

30 box jumps, 24″

10 squat snatch, 60kg



Riding The Wave

Riding The Wave

As CrossFitters we tend to have a quite high training volume. If the training volume and time frame is set correctly you’ll see great adaptation from the athlete – skills, movement patterns, strength.¬†We need to understand that there is an optimal level for overload and and optimal time frame to¬†achieve¬†it, i.e. if the overload happens in too short a space of time it can end in injury. Recovery plays a huge role in this process. The body repairs and develops during recovery periods.

Recovery can be broken down into short term and long term recovery. Short term recovery is directly post WOD i.e. ¬†a cool down (do you do one?) and the any activity the following day (unless it’s another training day!). Doing nothing is ALWAYS worse than doing something! Post workout nutrition is key also. Getting the right foods and fluid in to replace lost electrolytes and optimise protein synthesis.

Long term recovery needs to be factored into your annual plan. I firmly believe in taking the odd week, yes WEEK, off. Especially after a long build up to competition. I mean, how much fitness are you REALLY going to lose after a competition if you take a week off? Rather than be concerned with losing fitness you should rather think about how much you will gain, mentally and physically, from a good break. As with the short term rest, you don’t need to be a complete couch potato during the week off. ¬†DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Try a new sport, something at you wouldn’t have time for during a packed training schedule…ANYTHING!

I’ve been making pretty good gains since the New Year and I want to keep riding the wave. All of the above points are integrated into my training schedule at the moment and I feel awesome…even with two nocturnal children! Oh, and that’s another major factor…GET PLENTY OF SLEEP!


I’ve mentioned this in a previous post. However, I have been struggling with some kind of shoulder impingement since August of last year. Pressing, jerking and handstand push-ups (HSPUs) have been out of the question. Changing my warm-up has helped this massively. Today Coach Tsypkin programmed ‘Diane’ – one of my least¬†favourite¬†benchmark WODs…mainly because my shoulders take industrial action with that volume of HSPUs.

Standing over the bar, waiting for the 3, 2, 1, GO; I was really nervous – worrying about the volume of work going through my untested shoulder. With my previous history of crappy timings for getting injured, I think I have a right to be a little concerned!

3, 2, 1, GO!

My plan (trying to be sensible) was to break each round of ¬†HSPUs down. I managed 7-7-7 in the first round. Then 5-3-3-2-2 and finally, 3-3-2-2-2. The deadlifts were more of an¬†inconvenience between the HSPUs. I finished in 4:51…a 19s PB! My shoulder held up really well, especially considering the 5 months of no pressing work.





Deadlift, 105kg





2 mile run

11:30 (200m short of 2 miles)





‘I love my job’ – can you say that and mean it?

Yes I can!

I’ve spent the day coaching U18 athletes, male and female. The progress is amazing! Half of the female athletes have a gym training age of 5 months and were scared to pick up an empty barbell…in fact they were afraid to open their mouths and speak to me back in August! The words squat, deadlift, press, snatch all brought blank looks and worried murmurs.

Five months on the sessions are so different! The athletes have all developed in strength, confidence and now have a love of the barbell! Watching them load the bar and OWN it through the lifts makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside… almost like a proud father! Today’s session saw girls tackle deadlifts, push press and single leg squats! On average the girls are pulling between 80-100kx3 on the deadlifts. A few are up to 50kgx5 on the push press and we have 3 girls able to pump out 3×6 single leg squats with no assistance! They are going to be incredible this time next year! I can’t wait! Their progress with the Olympic lifts is also incredible. Not one of them is scared of throwing the bar over their heads! We have girls who are nailing 40×3 FROM A HANG POSITION! In the words of Coach Burgener – ‘THAT FIRES MY ASS UP!’


A friend of mine, Jane Holgate, is writing an awesome blog called Ladies Raising The Bar. If you are female and the voices in your head constantly tell you not to lift weights because ‘you’ll get bulky’ – think again. What you’ll ACTUALLY get is strength and confidence, along with many other health benefits. Check out her blog via the link!

On to today’s WOD…it was a DOOZIE!

For time:

10 front squat, 120kg

20 box jumps, 24″

40 hand release push-ups

60 KB swings, 1 pood

100 double unders

400m run carrying 25kg plate