fred by Fred Lowe, 3x Olympian

It doesn’t matter who we are; we all have similar (often identical) problems and challenges in life. If we are trying to snatch or clean a barbell, the movements themselves dictate the universal challenges associated with these lifts. When we execute the snatch or clean from the floor, the bar has to travel WAY further for us to finish the lift than any other two-hands barbell movement. Because of this, SPEED has to be generated for the bar to travel the required vertical distance for success. Inadequate speed = failed lift. When properly executed, the speed peaks right in the MIDDLE of the movement for the snatch or clean.

Our next problem is that we have to hold onto the bar bilaterally as the snatch and clean are two-hand lifts. As a result, our grip is at greatest risk of slippage during this speed-spike (middle) phase of the pull. Bad grip = failed lift. So, we’ll need specialized means to keep our grip secure for snatching or cleaning. Voila! The hook grip!

I first saw an article about this in a lifting mag early in 1967, but I never tried it as I was doing pretty well and making gains. By fall of 1967, I had snatched 265 lbs (120.5 kg) once but was only consistent with 245-255 lbs (111-116 kg). At this point, my coach introduced me to the hook grip. I didn’t like it much, but after only three workouts I got used to it. Within eight weeks of him showing me the hook grip, I snatched 273 lbs (124 kg) and got 279 lbs.(126 kg) to arm’s length. Within five months of my introduction to the hook grip, I snatched 286 lbs (130 kg). In addition, I became much more consistent with weights that were 85-92% of my 1RM. My eventual 1RM for the snatch was 297 lbs (135 kg) which I did 6 times in official competition. This would not have happened without a hook grip.

So, why hook? Because our problem (and its solution) is universal and the our circumstances vary only by degree. Not all of us are elite specialists in weightlifting or games-level athletes in CrossFit. But if we’re all going to maximize our potential for the snatch and clean, it will never happen with an insecure grip. We’re all one big family with the same family problem. The hook grip is the most secure grip, regardless of how much we might be lifting.

You’ve no doubt heard the saying, “try it, you’ll like it!” In the case of the hook grip I can probably say, “try it, you won’t like it.” But, you’ll get over it, and pretty quickly as I did. Try it with lighter weights to get used to the pressure on your thumb and get your hands in condition for heavier efforts. Wrap one layer of adhesive tape around your thumbs and that will help.

Then, when the time comes for a snatch ladder, clean ladder, or other extended Oly effort you’ll be happy you took the time. There may be other discomforts and challenges but the loss of your grip won’t be one of them. Here’s wishing all of you your best efforts yet!

Why The CrossFit Weightlifting Trainers Course?

Josh Everett by Josh Everett

Over the last decade, CrossFit has created an explosion in participation in weightlifting, and thus a large market for weightlifting courses and seminars. For the consumer, there is a wide variety in choice of weightlifting courses in terms of content, instructor background, and brand. My goal is to give you three reasons for choosing to attend a CrossFit Weightlifting Training Course.

1. The goals of the Course
You will leave the CrossFit Weightlifting Trainers Course with a crystal clear understanding of how to progress someone from the nine foundational movements taught in depth at the CF L1 Course and be able to safely, efficiently, and effectively teach the snatch, clean, and jerk. Coach Mike Burgener has developed a systematic approach to teaching these lifts. Coach B has taken arguably the most complex movements you can do with a barbell and made them simple to teach and learn. Once you have an understanding of the fundamentals of teaching, you also will walk away with an arsenal of drills to fix your intermediate and advanced athletes.

2. The Community
The CrossFit Weightlifting Course has been developed by CrossFitters for CrossFitters. Everyone on our staff has a CF L1 and understands and your goals as a CrossFit athlete and coach. We understand how and why you want to implement these movements in the CrossFit setting, and we have extensive experience in weightlifting specifically. The course also accounts for and assumes a background and competence that CrossFitters have in regards to what has been learned at the CF L1, and we build from that base.

3. The Brand:
As a CrossFit trainer or affiliate owner, you continue to strengthen and reinforce the CrossFit brand as the world leader in fitness related education and training when you choose to come to a CrossFit course. By making CrossFit the authority in fitness, you strengthen the brand under which you fly your flag.

For more information on CrossFit Weightlifting Trainer Courses, click here!

Simple and Effective Progression for Drilling Proper Jerk Footwork


by Cody Looney

Athlete starts in the “Jump” Stance with the footwork template properly marked on the floor.
(Toes marked at Jump and Land Stances, front foot is marked a half of a foot length in front at the Land Stance width, back foot is marked a full foot length behind at the Land Stance width)

General Points of Performance:
-Front foot is straight or slightly turned in (pushing back off of the front foot)
-Front shin is vertical or slightly back towards the athlete
-Back heel is off the ground (pushing forward off of the back foot)
-Back knee is slightly bent

1- STATIC: Walk the feet out in to position
Check the points of performance and make any needed adjustments, have the athlete raise their hands overhead, have the athlete recover properly (front foot back then back foot forward)
2- Dip+Drive+FOOTWORK: Jump feet into position (arms at the sides)
Check the points of performance and make any needed adjustments, have the athlete raise their hands overhead, have the athlete recover properly (front foot back then back foot forward)
3- Dip+Drive+FOOTWORK: Jump the feet into position (simulated Front Rack)
Check the points of performance and make any needed adjustments, have the athlete raise their hands overhead, have the athlete recover properly (front foot back then back foot forward)
4- Dip+Drive+Punch+Footwork: Full Movement
Check the points of performance and make any needed adjustments, have the athlete recover properly (front foot back then back foot forward)

If the athlete is successful through all 4 steps of this progression the next step is to add PVC, then a barbell, then additional load.

Never “too old”

Kris Stanton grew up in Hawaii, semi-sort of active in her youth, but never considered herself an athlete. By the time she was in her 30’s, Kris says, “I was a complete couch potato who loved food, and every few years would join a gym or by late night TV workout videos to get healthy. That would last a month or two and I fell back into old habits.”


When she was 38, she knew she really needed to do something about her weight (she was over 210 lbs on her 5’3″ body), so she started run/walking (more walking than running). Setting a distance goal as opposed to “losing weight” goal was the key. She completed a half marathon in 3:15 and the full in 7 hours. Not fast, but she finished and lost about 60 lbs in the process without really changing her diet.

In 2010, Kris found CrossFit.

“When I was on vacation in 2010, a friend of mine introduced me to CrossFit. I loved it so much! So when I came back to Germany, I immediately signed up at a local box. I quickly became addicted and especially loved the weightlifting! My grandfather was a weightlifter, and quite good too, but I wasn’t ever exposed to it growing up. I always thought he did “fitness” weightlifting, like bicep curls at a gym. It’s only when I found his pictures and records a couple of years ago did I discover it was real oly lifting!”

Kris attended the CrossFit Weightlifting course in 2012 in Parma, Italy with Sage Mertz. It was a life changer! “I never knew that something that looks so easy could be so technical and complicated. John Belton, who was also a coach at the seminar, mentioned that I should lift in competitions. And my reply was ‘but I’m not very good, and I’m old’. He said ‘of course you can, there are masters competitions!'”

At age 41, Kris signed up with a local weightlifting club and started weightlifting. Because she lives in Germany, she had to learn everything in German – the terminology, the team system, the competitions, how it all works. The hardest part about weightlifting for her was having to undress in front of people (sometimes men!), get weighed in and wear a singlet. “But I loved it so much, I did it. It helped so much with my confidence and body issues!”

13245997_10154806524998056_2029446020_nSo now it’s my passion in life.” Kris has been lifting on her team for 4 years, and they have become her second family. This year, Kris set some Bavarian lifting records for her age/weight class!

Germany also has special competitions for kids, and Kris’ kids have been competing since they were 7. “I got my Bavarian C-Trainer license last year, and am now a kids coach at our sport club. And now that Sage is in Hawaii (and I hope she stays there forever), my kids and I get some coaching whenever we’re home.”
Kris is a baby geezer and proof you are never “too old” to do anything!! She qualified for and will compete this year’s World Masters in Germany.


Part two of the Burgener Warm Up is ELBOWS HIGH AND OUTSIDE, and it teaches you to keep the bar close.

This is what it looks like in a lift: From the ground, the athlete is generating upward momentum on the barbell, FINISH, and elbows will follow into this position. There’s a change of direction point where the barbell will float for split second, and the athlete’s job is to aggressively pull their body DOWN to receive the barbell. This athlete: he’s pulling his body DOWN.

A snatch is nothing more than a jump and a land. Weightlifting is a sport of positions and physics, actions and reactions. The Burgener Warm Up is fundamental in focusing on and reinforcing proper positions. Do it EVERY SINGLE DAY, and your lifts will improve. GUARANTEED.

CLICK HERE to download your free PDF of the Burgener Warm Up

Go Home Happy!

Josh Everett Go Home Happy!
by Josh Everett

There are certain rules adhered to at Mike’s Gym in Bonsal, CA. Coach Burgener was always adamant that when you hit a PR you were done for the day on that lift. He absolutely would not allow his athletes to hit a PR, add weight and go for another record, no matter how good the lift looked or felt.

There are some very good physiological reasons to heed this advice, but Coach B’s was more psychological. Go home happy. If you put on more weight and miss, no matter how good you felt about yourself after the PR, you go home thinking about the miss. Digging a little deeper, think about the law of averages: that PR probably came on a lift where you put it all together. Most likely your next lift will not be as good at the heavier weight.

Some pulls are perfect, some terrible, most of your pulls are somewhere in the middle, and the chances of two perfect pulls in a row are minimal. How then do you push your average pull closer to being just like your perfect pull? Threshold training as described in the CrossFit Level 1 course. For the Snatch, Clean, Jerk that generally occurs in the 80-85% range, maybe singles at 90%ish. Spend most of your time training in these percentile ranges.

If you are following Coach B’s programming, you know you’ll get plenty of chances to set new PR’s in the near future. Hit your PR, get some high fives, a shout of “OUTSTANDING!” from Coach B and go home happy!

2016 GOAL: INCREASE 1RM Snatch


There is a LINEAR PROGRESSION from 1RM Snatch to Snatch Push Press + OHS to Snatch Balance. Ideally, you should be able to snatch balance 110%+ your 1RM snatch; what we see more often though is athletes who have a moderate 1RM snatch, super heavy OHS, and weak snatch balance. Want to increase your 1RM? Work on snatch balance.

Casey Burgner’s progression went like this:
1RM Snatch: 182 kg/400 lbs.
Snatch PP + OHS: 190 kg/418 lbs.
Snatch balance: 205 kg/451 lbs.

The fact that Casey was able to snatch balance 205 kg/451 lb. left zero doubt in his mind that he could snatch 182 kg/400 lb. Heavy snatch balances build confidence in the lifter in pressing the body DOWN aggressively under a heavy load.

10580746_1278032098889045_1600228893486069789_o Doug Carbal read about snatch balances a few months ago and added them to his programming. Doug let us know his results: Thank you! @crossfit_weightlifting I had read this before on the site a few months ago and that’s when I began to focus on the snatch balance. I’ve since made huge progress in both my snatch and OHS. 230lb. snatch balance, 225 lb.OHS, 200 lb. Snatch

If you cannot snatch balance at least 110% of your 1RM snatch, make that your 2016 goal, and watch your 1RM snatch increase right along with it!

Waves… They’re Not Just For Surfing

Sage happy dance by Sage Mertz

Growing up, Mike’s Gym was THE PLACE to be on Saturday mornings. People from all over California would drive to the little town of Bonsall to come and work on their snatch and clean and jerk under the watchful eye of Coach B. The number of people in the gym (sometimes four to a platform) made the environment chaotic and positively electric.

What made Saturdays SO special was the fact that no matter what kind of lifting cycle we were on, we would take that day to work up to a heavy snatch, heavy clean and jerk, and heavy front squat. It didn’t matter if we were borderline paraplegic from being in the middle of the Hatch Squat Program. It didn’t matter if we had stayed out too late the night before… come Saturday morning, everyone was determined to hit some kind of PR lift.

Unfortunately, despite spending the night praying to the lifting gods to bless us with leg strength, speed and fluidity, there would be some Saturday mornings where we all just felt like we had somehow contracted Ebola.

We would warm up, and slowly start working our way up to a heavy single, only to find ourselves seriously struggling with our 80-85%! So what happened then? Did we stop at 80% and move on for the day? NOT IN THIS HOUSE!!

I’m only half kidding. In the sport of weightlifting, there are definitely days when the stars just aren’t aligned and the daily temperature and humidity are not conducive for maxing out purposes. On those days, it can be smart to call it quits and save it for another day. BUT, there are also times where a lack of focus can be the sole reason for missing those weights that you know you are capable of hitting.

This is where snatch and clean and jerk “waves” can come in handy. A “wave” is when you work up in weight and then take weight off and work back up again. For example, say my best snatch is 75 kilos. My warm up attempts look like this: 35kg, 45kg, 55kg, 60kg, 65kg, 70kg (miss). I missed 70kg, and I now have two choices. I can either continue to attempt 70kg and get progressively more frustrated from missing 7 times in a row, OR I can move back down in weight to 60kg and feel what a proper snatch is supposed to feel like. I’ve taken the mental pressure off of myself of having to hit a heavy weight, and I force myself to think solely about being fast and being technically proficient at a weight I’m extremely comfortable at.

That “moving down in weight” can often be the key to REMINDING my body how it’s SUPPOSED to move.

So, I hit 60kg beautifully and move up to 65kg and nail it! I now have given my body a chance to feel two additional PERFECT reps before moving on to 70kg again. Now that I’ve felt how my body is supposed to move, I hit 70 kg effortlessly and am able to move up to 75kg.

UH OH!! 75 kg was a disaster! I freaked out because I convinced myself that 5 more kilos on the barbell was somehow definitely going to kill me. So, I move back down to 70 kg (a weight that I have now successfully lifted and am much more confident with) and retrain my perfect mechanics. 70kg feels great, so now I have convinced myself that I am not, in fact, a total sissy girl and I move on to successfully lift 75kg with speed and grace and tenacity.

In conclusion, missing weights and having an “off day” doesn’t HAVE to be your fate on certain days. Maybe, all you’re missing is a lack of focus. Work up in weight and then take weight off and remind your body how to move efficiently. Once it has been reminded, then you can move back up in weight.

You never know, maybe you’ll surprise yourself with a new PR (given that you’ve offered some sort of sacrifice to the lifting gods)!