Friday, March 2, 2012

Thoughts on Reebok CrossFit Games Open WOD 12.2

Sorry for the late post, I meant to write something right away Wednesday night, but when 12.2 came out, I wasn't quite sure what to write besides, "You better have been working on your snatch!" Much like cramming for a test, there is not going to be an incredible amount of things you can change between now and Sunday. But there's gotta be something I can do, right!? Sure there is. Read below.

Workout 12.2
Proceed through the sequence below completing as many reps as possible in 10 minutes of:
30 Snatch (M 75 / F 45 lbs)
30 Snatch (M 135 / F 75 lbs)
30 Snatch (M 165 / F 100 lbs)
Max Rep Snatch (M 210 / F 120 lbs)

CrossFit Open 11.1 workout

Right after reading the workout, I tweeted, "This is when everybody wishes they worked on their snatch more!" As I said in my post "What Malcolm Gladwell Has to do with Olympic Lifting," literally thousands of repetitions are required to become proficient at technical lifts such as the snatch. However, not all is lost. Here is what I would do for 12.2. 

First, warm up sufficiently and make sure you are limber and mobile. Who else to look to for tips on this than the great K-Star, CrossFit's mobility expert. I'm not even going to try and give you advice on this, so here's a video from the man himself (you can find more mobility tips on his site,

In terms of form, you do NOT have to squat snatch, and you MAY press out, however, the bar cannot stop at the shoulders since this can be interpreted as a clean and jerk or clean and press. If squatting low, even in a power position, is trouble for you, then I suggest SPLIT snatching it. If you're not sure what that is, Google it. Although squat snatching is most efficient, it also will be taxing on your legs with a longer range of motion. If you can power/split snatch, then do so. The heavier the lift, the lower you may have to drop in that power position. Rich Froning Jr. does an excellent job showing this in the mainsite demo video. 

This is not a time to look at 75# snatches and think you can fly through them, especially if your form isn't perfect. (Don't you remember 11.1? Have you ever met "Randy"?) Pace yourself and find a way to save your back for the heavier lifts. You WILL be gassed at some point. 99% of people will be muscle or power snatching the first 30. Make sure to stay balanced in your feet and push those knees out at the bottom of the lift so your back doesn't take the brunt of the work. For the light weights, don't move your feet much, there's not need to jump out wide for these and reset your feet narrow. Try to keep a landing position with your feet, even in the jump. The 30 snatches, even with breaks, should take you only a few minutes. You then have the rest of time to basically do "Isabel" (30 snatches at 135#/95#). At this point, some of you are saying "But my 1RM is 125!" Well, then this is your time to saddle up and PR! Amp yourself up, have someone scream at you, do whatever you can to get that bar up. Just one rep will put you ahead of literally thousands of people. 

The bar must also come from the ground every time, so if 135 is going to do-able but heavy for you, it might be worthwhile to drop from the top, again to save that back for an attempt at 165. If you know you can do 135 and 165, well, then you should move quickly and efficiently through 135 in sets of 3 or 5 and try to get as many as you can with 165 because this is where the top dogs will live. If you are someone who can get through 135, 165, and move on to 210, well, then you should be writing this blog, not me.

Just snatching 192 kilos. Aka 422#. No big deal.

This sequence of events reminds me of the CrossFit Games at Aromas in 2009. The first event was a 7k run up a SUPER steep terrain. Chris Spealler came in first, Mikko Salo in second (the sprint finish at the end with Speal was amazing), and Russell Berger in 3rd for the men, while Sarah Dunsmore, Lauren Erwin, and Carey Kepler were the top 3 women. The very next event was a deadlift ladder. Athletes had to move from one bar to the next, as weights increased, and perform a deadlift. Sixteen men tied on the last and heaviest bar at 505#. Although this might seem light for the CF Games now, back then it was heavy and unpredictable that after a 7k run, that many men would tie. 

Clearly HQ learned their lesson to set a very high bar and organize workouts to separate out competitors. 

The 2012 CrossFit Open has reflected the 2009 Games in the first event being a cardiovascular event, while the second is a strength based one. Those who can do both well will rise to the top. Large people were up in arms about 12.1 and the burpees, but the tides have turned with this snatch workout. It allows everyone to get a score on the board (the spirit of the Open) but will absolutely separate the elite. There is one big difference from 2009 though. Choosing this snatch movement caters to those who are technically proficient, not just "gorilla" strong. At the same time, it takes away any advantage a specialist would have (i.e. a pure olympic lifter) because they are not used to high rep snatches. They may be able to snatch 300#+, but I guarantee if they haven't been training high reps and/or CrossFit, they won't even make it to the 210#.

Indeed, this workout is made for experienced and strong CrossFitters. High rep olympic movements are simply not found elsewhere in fitness. 

Unfortunately, it also means that there will be UGLY performances around the world. By my guesstimation, only a small percent of people have their snatch form dialed in. The majority of people (including myself) will be pressing out. Pure oly lifters will cringe when they see video of these performances and don't be surprised when there are blog posts flying around complaining about the ugly form of CrossFitters. (there are already plenty of those) There is also the danger of shoulder injuries due to the external rotation of the shoulders coupled with multiple attempts at PR weights. So make sure you are smart about your limits, even if you're pushing for a PR.

The cream will certainly rise to the top after this one, just like it did in 2009. Back then, the top 3 men overall (Mikko, Tommy Hackenbruck, and Moe Kelsey) were all in the top 10 after the first two events (7k run and deadlift). The top 3 women overall (Tanya Wagner, Charity Vale, and Carey Kepler) were more spread out after two events (top 13) but check this out: Tanya and Charity were 1st and 2nd after two events, and guess who was 3rd and 4th? Kristan Clever and Annie Thorisdottir (2010 and 2011 champions, respectively). 

I predict that like in 2009, the combination of burpees and snatches will put top CrossFitters in a ranking order that will not change drastically over the last three workouts. Those who are proficient at high rep, heavy snatches are already fire breathing CrossFitters. Rich Froning Jr. demonstrated the 12.2 workout in a video and looked like he was casually having fun with 210#. He did 98 reps then, but I predict he'll redo it and get 110+. Kristan Clever will once again destroy this workout with supremely efficient form and a huge engine. She'll get just under 110. 

For those looking on some power snatch tips, check out this video from Coach Rippetoe.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Lots of good nuggets of info in there, especially the pre wod mobility stuff.



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