Coach Sarah: The Perfect Push-Up

Coach Sarah: The Perfect Push-Up

With thanks to the awesome person who inspired this post, I wanted to write about a topic near to my heart: virtuosity, or doing the common uncommonly well.

In each rep we do, I believe the goal is to do it perfectly, and if not perfectly, then as well as possible for that day given whatever limitation may prevent perfection (whether that be strength, skill, flexibility, etc.) If nearly perfect isn’t possible, it’s recommended (and really necessary) to go light and slow enough that the weakest link in the sub-optimal chain doesn’t become overstressed and eventually injured.

Despite the many (many, many, many, far too many many’s) times I hear that the reason someone’s form broke down was because they were tired, the truth is that this is even more true under fatigue. Once you are tired, and especially if you’re also operating under the influence of adrenaline, it’s very difficult to feel pain until it’s far too late. Don’t rely on pain as your guide for whether you are moving properly. Stay present, and stick to the fundamentals. Move as fast as you can under this constraint: nearly every rep (at least 8/10) should be as close to perfect as possible.

Now, back to the perfect push-up.

This all works great when your joints and muscles are working properly, and the only reason you don’t achieve perfection is that you don’t have enough skill, or you weren’t concentrating. This gets complicated (super duper complicated sometimes) when things aren’t working properly.

Most of us have at least one (if not many) of the following:

  • Injuries that weren’t fully rehabbed at some point in the past

  • Muscle tightness stemming from poor posture at work, driving, sleeping, etc.

  • Muscle weakness stemming from poor mechanics in everyday things like walking, carrying a purse, typing, etc.

  • Overdeveloped muscles stemming from bodybuilding, sports, repetitive work, etc.

  • Unfortunately, some of us also have tweaks as a result of our training

And the list goes on.

It’s highly likely that at least one foundational CrossFit movement - like a pushup, pull-up, air squat, strict press, deadlift, double under, or burpee is hard for you because of something “strange” going on - lack of muscle activation, a bone spur, an unhealed injury, a fundamental lack of understanding about how the movement is supposed to feel, etc. In this case, it’s usually not enough to just go light, or even to go slow. In this case it may be necessary to become a student of yourself - to seek help in the case of a suspected injury (like a bone spur, etc.), to ask a coach for corrective exercises to restore full mobility to a joint, or to activate sluggish glutes, scapula, etc.

If you know that a movement doesn’t make sense to you, or intuitively feels sketchy, or you get the same feedback from coaches no matter how hard you try to correct it - seek out extra help. I personally would love to help, as I’m sure all of our AR coaches would.

In short, never settle for less than perfect. If it isn’t perfect today, that’s ok - scale accordingly, but don’t settle for less than perfect in the long run. Pursue virtuosity, understand the basics, try harder, and then try smarter. Sure, most of us don’t have any interest in participating in the CrossFit Games, but we all want to be the best possible versions of ourselves, and it starts with the perfect pushup (and air squat, and deadlift…)

WOD For 09-24-18:

Alternating EMOM For 5 Rounds (10 Minutes):

1) 12 Double Kettlebell Single Leg Deadlifts @ pick load (6 R / 6 L)

2) 12 Single Dumbbell Overhead Squats @ pick load (6 R / 6 L)

This is “For Quality of Movement” (not time or max weight) so choose your loading accordingly.


4 Rounds For Time:

300m Row

13 Chest-to-Bar Pull-ups

26 Alternating Dumbbell Snatches 50/35 lbs

Sweaty Saturday Running Clock

Sweaty Saturday Running Clock

Well here’s a little change-up to the Saturday docket. Inspired (somewhat) by the CFG Team Series workouts, and then gently molded into a whole different breed of evil thanks to Hopping’s “fun run” in the middle, here’s a good one for some weekend partner fitness.


WOD For 09-22-18:

With a Partner On a Running Clock..

A) From 0:00 - 7:00

For MAX REPS in 7 Minutes:

30 Squat Cleans @ 135/95 lbs

30 Squat Cleans @ 185/125 lbs

MAX REPS Squat Cleans @ 225/155 lbs

Reps are shared with only one person working at a time - switch whenever you like. Score by reps completed at 7 minutes.

B) At 9:00

For Completion (7 Minute Cap):

1200m Run with a Medicine Ball @ 20/14 lbs

Both partners run. Support or carry the ball in any fashion except on top of your head or by holding the loop (which eventually breaks the ball).

C) At 18:00

For Time (7 Minute Cap):

100 Lateral Bar Burpees

Reps are shared with only one person working at a time - switch whenever you like. Score by reps completed if capped at 7 minutes.

Friday Barbell Therapy: Technique is King!

Friday Barbell Therapy: Technique is King!

All three parts of Friday’s WOD could be considered as “For Quality” lifting by most of us in the gym — and that’s essentially the point for the bulk of athletes who do come in to do this workout.

These exercises, and derivatives of them, have been used for years by many of our competitive Olympic-style weightlifters at Arena Ready, and have contributed to their technique improvements in the actual “competition lifts” (i.e. the Snatch and Clean & Jerk). And since technique improvements lay the foundation for bigger, heavier lifts down the road we love programming days like this for our general group classes as well — because who doesn’t like learning to move better in order to eventually move more (i.e. more weight!).

So, if these movements are awkward for you, or if you don’t yet have a comfort level with any (or all) of them don’t despair. Treat the movements as “For Quality” exercises, work on improving the pieces at lighter loads, and get the volume of reps in with consistent positions. Loading up the bar heavy to do crappy reps is counterproductive and will encourage EXACTLY what these exercises are intended to FIX.

No, you may not “get heavy a sweat going” or feel like you need to lay on the floor in agony afterward (although advanced athletes may very well be lifting enough to sweat up a storm), but we’ll take care of that on Saturday… don’t you worry.

Happy lifting!

WOD For 09-21-18:

On a Running Clock…

A) 0:00 - 10:00

Behind The Neck Strict Press:


B) 10:00 - 23:00

Snatch Balance + 2 Overhead Squats:

5 Sets of (1+2)

C) 23:00 - 36:00

2 Front Squats + 1 Split Jerk:

5 Sets of (1+2)

#TBT to Swings in The Outdoors

#TBT to Swings in The Outdoors

Who remembers this day?


WOD For 09-20-18:

Bent Over Barbell Row:



For Time:

100 Double Unders

50 Russian KB Swings @ 70/53 lbs

100 Walking Lunges

50 Russian KB Swings

100 Double Unders

Acceptable or Unacceptable?

Acceptable or Unacceptable?

Completely unrelated to snatches or muscle-ups, but oh so relevant to the Arena Ready family tradition — the return of “acceptable or unacceptable?”

I’ll start.

Wednesday QoD: Acceptable or unacceptable? Pineapple on pizza.


WOD For 09-19-18:

7 Rounds, Start Every 3 Minutes:

15/12 Calorie Row

3 Ring Muscle-ups

5 Hang Power Snatches @ pick load

You can do this workout as a “measured” effort with low-to-moderate intensity, or up the ante by increasing the intensity within the limits of your technique (both approaches are perfectly acceptable today). How do you increase the intensity? Pick any or all of the following:

-Row faster

-Do the muscle-ups unbroken

-Do the snatches unbroken at a challenging weight (executed with solid technique)

Come at Us, Bruh

Come at Us, Bruh

Front-loading the week with a pulling focus (and putting a version of burpee box jumps early in the week as well) was a bit self-serving I must admit - NOW YOU HAVE SIX DAYS UNTIL SUNDAY WHEN YOU CAN COMPLETE THE SEPTEMBER OPEN GYM CHALLENGE.

One important note - we have changed the time on the workout to 10 minutes (it was originally 12 minutes). Here’s the revised workout so that everyone has the correct version:

With a Partner Against a 10-Minute Clock For MAX POUNDS LIFTED:

100 Burpee Box Jump Overs*** @ 24/20 in

Max Deadlifts @ pick load

-Partners must use ONE barbell (i.e. the same weight).

-Only one person working at a time, switch whenever you like (reps do not have to be split evenly).

-Your score is the total poundage lifted (reps x weight chosen).

***”Open Standards” (i.e. facing the box is required, jumping up is required)

Sarah and I laid down the gauntlet this past Sunday to fan the flame a little and see if anyone will come in this weekend to take a shot at beating us. I will not disclose our strategy (other than I tried really hard not to slow her down too much) or chosen weight… but the (10-minute) score to beat is 11,800 total pounds.

Come at us, BRUH!

WOD For 09-18-18:

On a Running Clock…

A) At 0:00

For Time:


Wall Balls @ 20/14 lbs to 10/9 ft


Burpee Box Jumps @ 24/20 in (must face the box)

B) From 16:00 - 28:00

Back Squat:

12 Minutes to Build to a Heavy Triple* For Today (NOT a 3RM)

C) At 31:00

NOT For Time:

800m Run (you pick the pace)

Monday AMRAPs Two Ways

Monday AMRAPs Two Ways

Here’s a video of Rich Froning completing the round of 14 + 22 reps (134 total reps) and the round of 14 + 1 rep (113 total reps), respectively, on Monday’s workout:

I love this workout which is probably why we’ve seen it every year at Arena Ready since its appearance on the mainsite in 2015. It has a little bit of everything and produces a unique stimulus in a way that only an elegant duo of well-designed couplets can.

Simple (but not easy). Spicy. Fun.

WOD For 09-17-18:

AMRAP 7 Minutes (in the increasing rep scheme of 2/2-4/4-6/6-8/8-10/10-etc):

Deadlifts @ 225/155 lbs

Strict Handstand Push-ups




AMRAP 7 Minutes (in the increasing rep scheme of 2/2-4/4-6/6-8/8-10/10-etc):

Power Cleans @ 155/105 lbs

Pistols, alternating


(Compare both AMRAPs to 11-20-17, 08-08-16, 10-08-15)

Workout courtesy of

Sweaty Saturday: Team AMRAP "Fight Club"

Sweaty Saturday: Team AMRAP "Fight Club"

Inspired by the CompTrain workout “Fight Club” which is a modern take on the classic benchmark WOD “Fight Gone Bad” we’ve massaged the format and movements a bit, added a buy-in run (because why not?), and AMRAP’d the stimulus into a partner approach.

After touching some heavy-ish weights on Friday it’s time to “embrace the suck” with light & fast movements, and lean on your partner to help keep the pace moving.

Happy weekend, friends!

WOD For 09-15-18:

“AMRAP Team Fight Club”

With a Partner Against a 25-Minute Clock:


… then, in the remaining time AMRAP of…

30 Thrusters @ 95/65 lbs

30 Power Cleans

30 Box Jumps @ 24/20 in

30 Pull-ups

30 Calorie Row, Ski, or Assault Bike (FM Pairs = 27 Cal, FF Pairs = 24 Cal)

*The faster runner starts on the thrusters immediately and does NOT have to wait for their partner to complete the run.

*One athlete working at a time on the AMRAP, switch whenever you like (tagging not required).

Friday Barbell Therapy: "The Arena Ready EXPRESS Total"

Friday Barbell Therapy: "The Arena Ready EXPRESS Total"

Friday's Barbell Therapy gives a nod to last Friday’s workout when we took on an "express" version of the CrossFit Total.

The “Arena Ready Express Total” puts a spin on the classic CrossFit Total (back squat, strict press, deadlift) by utilizing three movements we see often here at AR - the power clean, the push press, and the front squat.

To explain the “express'“ designation I’ll simply re-paste part of last Friday’s blog post, since the concept is the same:

Why "express" you ask?  Because in order to truly work up to 1-Rep Max territory in all three lifts (as the traditional CrossFit Total calls for) most people would require more time to build-up in weight, and more time to rest between sets & movements.  Thus the prescription of our "express" workout states "heavy single" for each movement -- meaning the heaviest single rep you can do for today, given the conditions, and given the specific time restriction.  This concept is nothing new to you folks since we lift often, and lift fast most of the time.  Ain't nobody got time for slow-mo fitness.

If you need some extra TLC to get your body ready to lift in this fashion then try to come in to the gym a little early to extend your own personal warm-up (e.g. row/bike/ski for a bit, roll out thoroughly, mobilize your challenge areas).  But either way remember the intended stimulus of this version of a Total -- heavy singles with good technique, not grip-and-rip-to-max-out-bruh-cause-we-be-short-on-time-but-long-on-expectations.  Your body will thank you for it over the weekend when the total poundage you lifted across the entire WOD (i.e. the actual cumulative work you accomplished) was still high, but you also felt good enough to train again on Saturday and/or Sunday... or good enough to just enjoy the weekend with some $25 eggs you didn't have to cook yourself. 

Happy Friday!  

WOD For 09-14-18:

"The Arena Ready EXPRESS Total"

On a Strict Running Clock...

A) 0:00 - 13:00

Power Clean:

13 minutes to establish a heavy single


B) 13:00 - 23:00

Push Press:

10 minutes to establish a heavy single


A) 23:00 - 36:00

Front Squat:

13 minutes to establish a heavy single

Thursday: Not a Barbell In Sight

Thursday: Not a Barbell In Sight

Thursday starts off with an EMOM piece with largely “For Quality” movements to prime the system, act as recovery/pre-hab for some, and build a little accuracy & skill volume with the double unders.

Then, and I’m not gonna lie to you, it’s 15 minutes of a pure suckfest. The triplet of AMRAP movements are classic in their selection, but nasty in their rep scheme (no, the 30 burpees per round is not a typo). Sometimes you just gotta do this kind of work — start steady, fight to hold on to your pace, and do whatever it takes to keep moving (and moving well) for the entire 15 minutes.

Who’s up for it?

WOD For 09-13-18:

Alternating EMOM For 4 Rounds (12 Minutes):

1) 80 ft Single DB Overhead Waiter Carry @ pick load (40 ft Right / 40 ft Left)

2) 20 Steps of Glute Band “Monster Walk” (By Round: 10 x R/L, R/L, F/B, F/B)

3) 40 Unbroken Double Unders


AMRAP 15 Minutes:

30 Overhead Walking Lunges w/Plate @ 45/35 lbs

15 Toes-to-Bar

30 Burpees

The Rowing "Sprint Start"

The Rowing "Sprint Start"

There’s a method to the madness of trying to get the rower’s flywheel moving quickly, and thereby accumulating meters or calories at a faster rate - the “Sprint Start.”

Here’s a quick and simple video explaining the “Sprint Start” - try it out in Wednesday’s workout and see if you can get those cals counting more quickly:

WOD For 09-12-18:

5 Cycles of (2 Minutes Work / 2 Minutes Rest) For MAX CALORIES:

10 Deadlifts @ 245/165 lbs

15 Box Jumps @ 24/20 in


Your score is the total number of calories rowed.

Always Remember, Never Forget

WOD For 09-11-18:

2 Hang Power Snatches + 1 Overhead Squat:

10 Minutes to Build to a Top Set


3 Rounds For Max Reps (0:45 work per station / 0:15 rest between stations):

Hang Power Snatches @ 95/65 lbs

Med Ball Sit-ups @ 20/14 lbs

Shoulder-to-Overhead @ 95/65 lbs

Med Ball Cleans @ 20/14 lbs

(Rest 1:15 Between Rounds)

This workout is 14 total minutes, including rest periods between rounds. Your score is the total number of reps completed across all 3 rounds.