Tuesday, February 22, 2011

11-02-22: Power Cleans and Front Squats

CrossFit Garden City WoD for February 8, 2011
Active Stretching
Burgener Warmup x 3 (35# Barbell)
Power Clean
 - Build to a heavy triple in 20 min
Front Squat x Max Reps x 3 sets
  • Set 1: 100% of heaviest Power Clean triple or 185#/135# (same)
  • Set 2: 75% of heaviest Power Clean triple or 135#/95#
  • Set 3: 50% of heaviest Power Clean triple or 95#/65#
Rest 5 minutes b/w sets. These are each maximum effort sets.

Full body extension, arms are just chains with the weight hanging from them. All the energy from the legs and hips is being transmitted straight to the bar, without pesky bent elbows absorbing some of it, slowing down the bar. Don't pull with your arms!! (crossfit.com)
Awesome front squat arm position. Note that the upper arms are parallel to the floor, with the hands serving to pin the bar to the front/top of the shoulders. This can be very hard for us older, crusty folks to get into. Cue the tiny violins while I start stretching. (racerxvt.com)

Warmed up with the usual active stretching routine (shoulders, core, back, legs, etc) that I now seem to require to feel loose and warm. Oh yeah, before that, experimented with some of the weighted jump-ropes we have in the gym. Realized one head-shot later that the ropes are made for Andean midgets. Ow. After all that, went on to the Burgener warm-up, three times through.

Having learned in a previous workout not to spend too much time warming up on the easy weights, I played around with the 35# bar for a few reps of power cleans, then immediately started loading up. My optimistic goal was to hit 200# total. To that end, I started at 85# for three, jumped to 125# for three, and up.

Power Clean for a heavy triple: 85# / 125# / 145# / 165# / 175# / 185# / 195#(F) / 195#(F)

I failed my final two attempts at 195#, but I'm fairly sure it was all in my head. The first fail didn't even get all the way up before my left grip slipped, sending the bar crashing to the ground. The second attempt almost made it to the rack, but I just couldn't lock my arms up to pin it there. Possible I could have made 190#, or (if we had a real weight set) 187.5# However, I was out of time for experimenting anyways.

Up next was the conditioning part of the workout. Take the weight you last succeeded on (or 185#, whichever was lighter...damn!) and do front squats. As always, its time to be a little baby and cry about the lack of proper gear in the gym. With no squat stands, I would have to do yet another clean from the floor to get the bar into proper squat position. Definitely not fun when that clean would be my 3RM. :S Unfortunately, it turned out that lack of flexibility would be a bigger stumbling block. Proper front squat arm position looks like the picture above, with the elbows up, hands pinning the bar to the delts. However, each time I racked the bar (all three weights), my fingers would inevitably slide out, forcing me to quickly catch the bar in the position shown below:
Correct form on the left. Cross-arm grip on the right. Not nearly as safe, as the ability to control the bar is greatly diminished. Arguably better than just dumping the bar, but not a whole lot. (http://corcoranstrength.wordpress.com)
So, I cleaned the weight (took two attempts back at 185#, having been completely freaked by failing at 195# twice), and almost immediately lost my grip, requiring a quick switch to the cross-arm grip. I managed to squeeze out two squats before dumping the bar off the front. For 135#, the clean was obviously easier, though the same grip issue presented itself.  Cross-arm "locked" in (I did have enough of a grip on it to be able to slow down the bar from rolling forward, keeping it from building momentum away from me), I banged out 10 reps. I was at the bottom of the squat for the 11th rep when I finally lost the bar. For 95#, the bar felt almost empty, and I managed to keep the clean grip at the top at first, but as soon as I started to sink into the first squat, the bar started to shift forward quickly, so I just as quickly slapped on the cross-arm, and banged out 21 reps. Not too shabby, but the grip thing has annoyed me completely. :S

Front squats for reps:
  • 185# - 2
  • 135# - 10
  • 95# - 21

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