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)!

18 Questions For the Man Beneath the Cowboy Hat

by Sage Mertz

Sage and Coach B Last week, I asked all of you interwebbers to think of ALL the things you were DYING to know about THE Coach B (my dad!). I had a hard time choosing the best questions because they were all so amazing, but here are 18 questions that I feel truly reflect just who Mike Burgener really is.

Thank you to those who participated…enjoy the show!

1. If weightlifting had never been a part of your life, what other career path/paths would you have pursued instead?

I would say that I would have made the Marine Corps a career…..I loved the USMC and the camaraderie that the Marines have together. It’s like the old saying: “ONCE A MARINE, ALWAYS A MARINE”. There are no EX Marines… only Marines and former Marines.

2. Who is your biggest role model? What is it that sets this person apart?

#33 is my dad!

#33 is my dad!

My strength coach at Notre Dame was a catholic priest, Fr. bhb Lange. Fr. Lange was a lead by example person that everyone loved. My biggest fear wasn’t his gruff style. My biggest fear was not being able to please him. I was also afraid of doing something stupid that would cause his disappointment.

3. Based off of your life experiences, what is the most important piece of “life” advice that you could offer to any given individual?

I learned from the USMC, my time with Fr. Lange, and from Ara Parseghian (my football coach at Notre Dame), that being humble and leading by example are critical to success.

4. What is your favorite type of athlete to train?

One that does not know it all. Someone that is very coachable, will listen and do their homework when given drills and skills to work on.

5. How did you and your wife meet? Was it love at first site?

“Boss Hoss” and I met at a racquetball court while I was in the Marine Corps. I played racquetball with her father who was in the Navy. He actually introduced us!

I thought SHE WAS HOT!!!! I am sure she would NOT say the same about me, but that is a whole other story!!

6. Have you ever had your heart broken?

Sure! Many times! But what exactly does “heart broken” mean?? I’ve been heart broken by the stupid decisions that I’ve made. I didn’t listen to my mom and dad when I should have. I wish I could go back and tell them how much I loved them and appreciated their guidance and leadership…even though at the time, I thought their wisdom was not wisdom at all!

If you mean to ask if I’ve been heart broken by a lady….hmmmm….I refuse to answer that one!!

7. What led you into the Marine Corps?

I always wanted to be a Marine. My freshman year of college, I knew I was going to be Marine when I went to see the recruiters. I think what really drew me in, was the camaraderie and challenge of getting through the tough and rigorous training. And then, when I went to bootcamp, it was amazing to see how wise my parents had become! Out of no where! 😉

8. If you had only ONE wish, what would it be and why?

World peace!! I believe all people are good, and that politicians cause problems. Every country I have had the privilege of visiting while doing courses, the people and culture were outstanding!!! I loved learning about everyone I met and found out that, if given the chance, we are all alike.

9. What are three traits that you feel define what it means to be a “good man”?

First, believing in a higher power or spiritual awareness (for me that is God). Second, being a man that loves his family. Finally, as I have said before, being a man that leads by example and challenges others to be the best they can be.

IMG_5657 10. What is the single most important thing you have learned in all your years of coaching?

Believe in your system, but do not be so tied to it that you are afraid of change. Coaches coach different athletes, so there is no ONE way of coaching. We all want the same thing: for our athletes to lift to the best of their ability in a safe, efficient, effective manner. My system has worked for me because I believe in it and I am passionate about it. BUT, I would change something in a nano second if I thought it could make my athlete better.

11. What was the hardest lesson you ever had to learn?

Not to sass my mom. Whenever I did, she would simply say: “wait until your dad gets home!!” OMG!!!! I was stubborn and I had a ton of those lessons…..OUCH!!!!!

12. You’ve traveled all over the world coaching, what has been your favorite place that you’ve traveled to and why?

OMG! How can I answer this? All the places that I have had the privilege of traveling to have been awesome. But, Switzerland is what first pops into my mind. That is my heritage. I have only been there one time, and it was amazing. I loved the people and their love of life.

If I had to pick a second place, I would say New Zealand. I love it there and, again, the people are amazing. I particularly enjoyed the Maori culture and visiting their temple (I think it’s called a temple..sorry if that is incorrect). Also, it goes without saying… the HAKA dance of war really fires me up!!!

13. What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I was a golf coach!!! LOL! I win that bet every time!! I ask my classes to choose three sports they think I coached in high school…..NO ONE has ever picked golf!

14. Have you ever had a near death experience? What happened?

I am not sure it was a near death experience but it sure felt like it. About 3 months ago, I had a blood pressure situation come up. My pressure spiked to 195/105. I was strong, and I was fit…soooooo…what the heck???

We had a death in the family, and I was stressed and worrying about family members. We went to the emergency room, and I truly thought I was going to die!!! I took all the tests, and they all came back negative except for my blood pressure. I had very thick, sludge-like blood going through my arteries. Also, my kidney filtration rate was much lower than it was supposed to be. I weighed 205, and I felt great and strong.

Anyway, I found out I had hypertension in my family. My mom, dad, sister, grandparents….all of them. No one back then ever talked about that stuff. I never knew that I was subject to hyper-tension.

Since then, I now weigh 175 and my blood pressure is 120/72 or so… which is average.

This is probably over dramatic, but the whole situation scared me straight into taking care of myself in the proper way.

IMG_3496 15. What has been your most life-changing experience?

Marrying my wife!! Aka Boss Hoss!!! (I should get some points for that answer!)

The next most life changing experience was joining the Marine Corps. I learned really fast that I was not as good as I thought I was!!!

16. What is your guilty pleasure?

Paleo margaritas.

17. In reference to coaching your kids, if you could go back and do it all over again, what would you do the same and what would you differently?

I wouldn’t change how hard I pushed them, but I might change wanting thier successes and failures to be up to them.

I knew they all had potential, and I pushed their abilities really hard. So hard at times, that sometimes I think I should have let them make the decision of how hard they wanted to work.

18. How do you stay so damn sexy (I would like to point out that this question did NOT come from your daughter)?

LMAO!!! I’m sure it wasn’t you.

In my humble opinion (and thank you for whomever asked), I would never ask my athletes to do something that I would not do. So, I work out hard for a 69 yr old geezer!!! We do geezer workouts 3 times a week, and I walk 4-6 miles on the beach 2-3 times per week. On top of that, Boss Hoss and I follow an intermittent fasting protocol with bullet proof coffee style of fasting.

3 Things Every CrossFitter Can Do To Become A Better Weightlifter

3 Things Every CrossFitter Can Do To Become A Better Weightlifter
by Sage Mertz

Most people are going to look at the title of this blog and think that I’m a lifting coach trying to convert CrossFitters into weightlifters. Although that would be amazing for the sport, I can assure you that is not my intention. 96.7% of the CrossFit community is already stronger than me at most things in life, and I’m not sure my emotional psyche can handle many more 12 year olds out lifting me in my own sport.

BUT! I’m a good person, so I do want to share a couple of tools that are guaranteed to make you a better weightlifter and possibly even a better person in general.

#1. Do the Burgener Warm Up EVERY day for the rest of your life

The amazing thing about CrossFit is that you can walk into the gym and get your (well-developed) butt handed to you in one hour!! Even though there is so much that we have to fit into that short amount of time, we often fiddle-fart around during our warm-up (given that there is not a specific warm up regime lead by a coach).

If you’re like me, your warm up generally consists of rolling out everything from your elbow to your ear lobe in an attempt to make it look like you’re actually doing something to prepare your body for the workout. It’s time for us to make some serious life changes. Next time you’re in the gym, pick up a PVC pipe and go through the Burgener Warm-Up:

1. Down and finish: Creates speed through the middle
2. Elbows high and outside: Keeps the bar close
3. Muscle Snatch: Develops strong turnover
4. Snatch lands at 2″, 4″ 6″: Footwork
5. Snatch drops: Footwork

The Burgener Warm-Up is great for breaking up the snatch and clean and jerk (movements that happen in .3 milliseconds) into smaller steps. This specific warm-up makes it easier for us to understand that it isn’t some weird voodoo magic that gets the bar up over our head, but instead, it is 5 very specific movements that our bodies go through in order to get that bar traveling up effortlessly.

Please note that the Burgener Warm-up does not need to be done with any significant amount of weight! A PVC pipe is all you need! You’ll be shocked at how warm you feel afterwards and how, after even a short period of time, your body seems to remember how to go through the motions on it’s own.

#2. Work your positions from the floor

Ok, so you’ve just rolled out your left ring finger and have completed the Burgener Warm-Up. Now, we need to add one more step to our warm-up… a step that allows us to gain a better understanding of what happens before that bar gets to our hips…aka what happens before we “jump”.

In other words, we need to master the proper pull off the floor.

Just like the Burgener Warm-Up, this drill does not need to be done with any significant amount of weight. Our goal when we work our positions is to move our bodies slow enough to be able to recognize how each position is supposed to feel. If we try and do position work with too much weight, we’re so focused on not dying that we’re not focused enough on achieving perfect mechanics.

Here is a video of me showing the three most important positions: the start position, the launch position, and the “finish” position. Notice how I slow down as the barbell moves up my leg and as I prepare to jump. I am really tuned into my hips, making sure they only travel through enough to be able to move vertically, as opposed to moving forward so much that they bang against the barbell and drive the weight away from my body.

Watch, memorize, and recreate…over and over again.

If you master these positions, you have a way better chance of being successful at lifting heavy weights. And lifting heavy weights is basically the most important step in achieving your biggest goals…like becoming the next Beyonce, for example.

#3. Watch videos of Olympic or national level athletes

Last, but definitely not least, just because you’re not in the gym, doesn’t mean that you can’t work on fine tuning your weightlifting technique.

There has been more and more research (and not even just on wikipedia!) proving the importance of visualization. What the mind sees and believes, the body can achieve. Go on youtube and research lifters like Natalie Burgener or Norik Vardanian or any of those cute, tiny Chinese female lifters that I want to carry around in my pocket.

Those are the lifters that have dedicated decades to fine tuning their technique and making it as efficient as possible for their specific body type and individual strengths and weaknesses. The more you study these lifters, the more you will start to pick up on tiny technical differences that set these lifters apart from the rest of the world.

Watching those beautiful lifts will make it easy to walk up to the barbell, close your eyes and see what your lift is SUPPOSED to look like. Will you be able to recreate it? I can’t say for sure… it really depends on how many homeless people you’ve fed over the past year. But, all you can do is try. If you are trying to replicate the speed, the efficiency, and the consistency that these lifters exude in each and every lift, you’re working in the right direction.

Hey Coach B!

We love receiving updates from our weightlifting friends from around the world! If you have an update you would like to share, email your story to

* * * * * * * *

Hey Coach B,

It’s been a while and I’m not sure if you remember me. My name is Luke Baranowski, and I did an internship with you on the CF Weightlifting Course on one of your Australia and New Zealand tours after doing your course in San Diego.

image2I’ve just written this to thank you for your inspiration especially those 2 years ago. That internship really taught me a lot and helped fuel my passion even more for weightlifting.

I started training this young lady, Yasmin Carter 4 years ago. She came to me just before her 13th birthday and started CrossFit. Through that I introduced her to Weightlifting. She’s been a model athlete and taken instruction well. Sure like any athlete (especially a young girl) you have your ups and downs but through all the effort she finally started competing this year in the Youth 58kg category .

She came second in her State Championship which was her first comp. following that she got asked to represent New South Wales at the Australian National Championships.

This weekend she competed at Nationals and won by 1kg in a great battle with another girl who’d been undefeated for 3 years by lifting a 3kg PB of 79kg in the Clean and Jerk. She has now been accepted to represent Australia at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Samoa later this year.

image1 To say I’m proud is a complete understatement, we’ve worked so hard over the past 4 years and a lot of it is thanks to you and for your continued support of the CrossFit Community through your videos and courses, replying to your emails and giving us all the chance, through your shared knowledge, to be the best coaches we can be.

Again many thanks and I can’t wait to bring her over to Mikes Gym one day soon to train under your watchful eye!

Kind regards

Luke Baranowski
CrossFit Whiteout/Bondi Barbell Club

Hey Coach B, I've just written this to thank you for your inspiration especially those 2 years ago. The internship for your course really taught me a lot and helped fuel my passion even more for weightlifting. I started training this young lady, Yasmin Carter 4 years ago. She came to me just before her 13th birthday and started CrossFit. Through that I introduced her to Weightlifting. She's been a model athlete and taken instruction well. She came second in her State Championship which was her first comp. following that she got asked to represent New South Wales at the Australian National Championships. This weekend she competed at Nationals and won by 1kg in a great battle with another girl who'd been undefeated for 3 years by lifting a 3kg PB of 79kg in the Clean and Jerk. She has now been accepted to represent Australia at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Samoa later this year. To say I'm proud is a complete understatement, we've worked so hard over the past 4 years and a lot of it is thanks to you and for your continued support of the CrossFit Community through your videos and courses, replying to your emails and giving us all the chance, through your shared knowledge, to be the best coaches we can be. Again many thanks and I can't wait to bring her over to Mikes Gym one day soon to train under your watchful eye! Kind regards Luke Baranowski CrossFit Whiteout/Bondi Barbell Club #CrossFitWeightlifting #CrossFit #CFWL @mikeburgener

A video posted by CrossFit Weightlifting Course (@crossfit_weightlifting) on


Women in Weightlifting
by Tyera Zweygardt

“You’ll get big and manly!” “Muscles are only for men!” “Girls cannot possibly lift!”!

Unfortunately, these are statements I hear all the time. I am guessing that if you are a female who enjoys lifting or fitness, you probably have heard similar remarks as well. Do not fret, for what do all of these comments have in common? They are false. There is a perpetual stereotype that Weightlifting, CrossFit, and other sports centered around strength, are only for men, and if you participate as a woman, you will merely saunter in the shadows of other men or “turn into one.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. Weightlifting, strength, and muscles are absolutely important for men, and everybody should embrace themselves, and ultimately do what they love. However, all of these things are equally important for women.

In a sport that has traditionally been dominated by males, female participation in Weightlifting is more revolutionary now than ever. We are creating an equal playing field, and constructing productive opportunities for ourselves. I think it is fair to say that female lifters decades ago, who were not even able to compete at the Olympic level, would be proud of our headway. Women are finally diminishing stereotypes, and demonstrating to the world that females can be powerful, yet still feminine.
Personally, I know this truth quite well. As most of you know, I am currently in the process of breaking three American records. I am more tenacious to make my dreams come true than I have ever been, and each and every day I progress further towards achieving my goals. In fact, last night I nailed a PR 76 kg (167.2 lb) snatch, which is only 2 kg under the American record set in 2006. Interestingly enough, the fact I had my hair in two pigtails, wore eyeliner, and rocked my pink polka-dot socks did not make this lift any harder or change my attitude. My power does not strip me of my femininity, and it won’t strip you of yours either. It is possible ladies, I promise.

While we all might know deep down inside of us that anything we desire is, indeed, possible to attain, sometimes walking into a gym full of muscly men can still be intimidating, whether we want it to be or not. Whenever this happens, just take a moment and reflect on who you are. Review how desperately you want to achieve your goals. Understand that your own mind is the only thing that can prevent you from accomplishing greatness. Never give anybody else that power over you. If you create fear, you can destroy it. Behind every fear is that person you want to be. So don’t let inexperience, peer pressure, or fear dissuade you from beginning your journey and chasing your dreams.

Post thoughts to comments.


We’ve been following Tyera Zweygardt’s journey to the international stage, and now she is on a mission for Youth Nationals!

Mission Tackle Youth Worlds 2015 was a success!

I always describe Olympic weightlifting in my life as some sort of metaphorical journey. On this journey, I encounter a multitude of experiences where I exhibit growth, and discover new, exciting opportunities for myself. I was lucky enough to discover the Youth World Weightlifting Championships, where my figurative journey transformed into an actual international adventure!! Fortunately, this was one of the first trips where USAWeightlifting decided to fund all competitors, so, luckily, I was not faced with financial impediments. However, while this specific gift mimicked a certain athletic elitism, the experience did not emulate what the Olympics appears to be on TV or in magazines. I expected to be surrounded by intensely serious people who only ever talked about lifting, and did not care to have fun. Upon arriving, I realized my prediction couldn’t be more incorrect! Surprisingly, I found myself neighbored by kids just like me. They went to school, they had friends, and they were just as honored to be at Youth Worlds as I was. Plus, they loved to have fun.

I felt human. Every time I turned my head, I noticed groups of athletes from all over the world laughing together, and preparing themselves to take the stage. Every time I walked into a new room, I listened to the rhythtm of a multitude of different languages. Every time I sat down to eat, I witnessed different cultures coalesce. I realized that I was a component of the world’s Olympic weightlifting melting pot, and that we were all truly one large family. Everybody was there for the same reason. Everybody shared one goal, that is, to lift as hard as they physically could.

Now, for the actual competition aspect of the trip, the sensation of standing alone on the international stage is truly ineffable. At this time, I felt like an Olympic athlete. All of the aforementioned seriousness I anticipated finally debuted. In those few moments before performing the lift, I became engulfed in the overwhelming combination of gratitude, gumption, and grit. All of my hard work paved the way to that singular moment, and I stood there fully prepared to give it my all.

I wound up achieving three competition personal records in the snatch (69 kg), clean and jerk (89 kg), and total (158 kg) at 63 kg bodyweight. Knowing I employed maximum effort, and now have a new total as my accolade, I couldn’t ask for anything more out of my experience in Lima, Peru at the Youth World Championships.

Soon after returning, I researched the American records for Olympic weightlifting in my age and weight division. I learned that they are currently 78 kg for snatch, 101 kg for clean and jerk, and 172 kg for total. A few months have passed since the world competition. From then on, I have increased my snatch to 74 kg, clean and jerk to 93 kg, and total to 167 kg. I have until December to break these records, and, as I am sure you have guessed, I am more determined and zealous than ever. I feel so incredibly honored to have recognized the opportunities available to me. I am humbled that I am able to share my story. I guess this simply demonstrates where a little hard work, keen focus, and self-confidence takes you.

(Editor’s note: Tyera also graduated from High School this month, at age 16! She has enrolled in college and will begin studying math and finance in the fall!)