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Wednesday- What is Athleticism?

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WOD- Wednesday 9/13/2017


EMOM x 3;
– 2 Speed Deadlift @ 50% + bands
Deadlift (3-3-3+)
 -3 reps @ 70%
-3 reps @ 80%
-Max reps @ 90%
**Round Down;
-0-150: 5
-150-250: 10
-250-350: 15
-350+ : 20lbs
3 Rounds for Time;
-15 Deadlifts (205/135)
-10 burpees over the bar
Time cap: 9


What is Athleticism?
    By: Coach Brandon

What is an athlete? Can you define athleticism? Webster’s dictionary defines an athlete as “a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina.”

Do all great athletes have athleticism? Would you say that Tom Brady is athlete because he throws with pinpoint accuracy down field? Sure, but would you call that athleticism?

Think about the definition of athleticism this way; “The ability to (1) seamlessly and effortlessly combine (2) primal movements (3) through space to accomplish a (4) known or novel task.”

  1. We all know a great athlete when we see one whether they were born with it or not. Some people possess skills that others don’t have. But that doesn’t mean those skill cannot be developed. Recently we saw some of the best crossfit athletes come through town, they made some of the most technical movements in crossfit look so simple! How? Were they born with skill? Maybe, but I can tell you one thing, they prepared for the known and unknown. Some have prepared for many years for their one shot. Through that preparation they gained the skills to make the movements look seamless and effortless, even if it meant throwing 225 pound over their head. You can think about moving seamlessly and effortlessly as muscle memory, there is no second guessing or really thinking about what they are doing, their preparation has made it second-nature. 
  2. To show true athleticism one should be able to display the 7 primal movements proficiently. All of these movements will challenge your posture and body positioning. Through external load, aka weights, with perfect technique we will be able to strengthen our posture and position to decrease our risk for injuries  Do you struggle with any of these movements? What’s your biggest limiting factor?
    1. Hinge (Deadlift, squat, olympic lifts)
    2. Lunge (Forward, backward, lateral)
    3. Step up
    4. Vertical push (Strict/ push press, handstand push-up)
    5. Vertical pull ( Pull-up)
    6. Horizontal push (Push-up, bench press)
    7. Horizontal pull (Bent over row, DB row) 
  3. Athleticism really becomes blaring when we see people move through space. There are 3 different planes of motion we can move through. First , sagittal, think front and back, anything you can do within a door frame. Usain Bolt for instance, the fastest man in world can move in lighting speed straight down the track. But if you asked him to change direction, I don’t know how well he would do with that. Secondly, frontal plane, think left to right, changing direction. Take your favorite point guard in basketball or running back in the NFL, masters of their craft at changing direction, making quick cuts to move from their opponent. Last, transverse plane, think about rotation. Separating the shoulders from the hips, like a receiver running down a side line, turning his upper body to catch a ball while his legs keep him moving in a straight line. 
  4. Through training we set ourselves up to be prepared for the known and unknowable. Many things we encounter in life and sports are unknown but by training the 7 primal movements through different planes of motion we build skills that allow us to take on the unknown tasks. Known or closed loop patterns have a set start and finish. These are movements you have done before that you initiate. A 100 Meter sprint will always be a 100 Meters whether it’s in practice or competition . On the other hand, an open loop pattern has no start or finish. It’s something you have never done before that the environment or your opponent initiates. In a sport like volleyball, the ball is going to initiate your movement, which is going to challenge you to move through space.

Now think about Tom Brady moving out of the pocket, does he seem out of place? Can he move through space with an opponent initiating his movement well, making it look seamless and effortless? Or is he better at closed loop patterns like throwing the ball to an exact spot on the field more than an open loop pattern of reacting while moving through space. Yes, he is a world class athlete, but probably doesn’t show world class athleticism.

Aaron rodgers on the other hand looks a little more graceful.

In the gym our goal is to challenge YOU the athlete to develop athleticism by challenging you to move through all 7 of the primal movements and different planes of motion so you are prepared for the known or unknown when you’re out of the gym. For instance, playing on a rec league volleyball, softball, ultimate frisbee team, or even just playing with your kids. Don’t just be an athlete, show athleticism.

Tuesday- Pop Up Seminar Coming to CFBD 9/23

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WOD- Tuesday 9/12/2017

Skill Session
A. BTN P. Press + Overhead Squat (3+6)
  -3 BTN Push Press + 6 OH Squats
B. Chest-To-Bar Pull-ups (6-6-6-6-6)
  -R+ 3 CTB + 3 BMU
EMOM x 9;
1- 12 Snatch + 6 OH Squats (55/75)
2- 9 Pullups
3- 6 Burpee box jumpsR+
1- Same
2- 3 CTB + 3 BMU
3- 9 BBJ


Pop Up Seminar: Mobility with LMT Scott Robison

If you’re training at CrossFit Big Dane, you take your training seriously. You’ve made training a regular part of your life because you know it helps you move, feel, and live better.

But do you know how to perform basic maintenance on yourself?

Can you take care of small aches and pains before they turn into big ones?
How do you prepare for training after a day spent in the classroom, or sitting in an office chair? Do you want the tools to tackle your mobility limitations so you can overhead squat comfortably?

Join Scott Robison, LMT, for an hour of practical mobility and self-care strategies. You’ll learn how to use lacrosse balls, foam rollers, and other simple items to move, feel, and perform better. Most important, you’ll learn strategies for fitting it all into your already busy life.

This pop up seminar will be held on: Saturday Sept. 23rd at 12:30pm.
Cost: $10 for CFBD members, $15 for non-members.
Want more? Stay for the second hour and Scott will take requests, so you can learn how to treat your specific challenges.

Scott Robison, LMT #12892-146, practices structural bodywork in Madison, WI. Scott earned a BS in Physics from Dickinson College in 2004, and studied massage and bodywork in Portland, OR. A life-long athlete, Scott ran cross country and track in college, spent a decade rock climbing all over the US, and was certified as a Level 1 CrossFit Trainer in 2010. Scott blends his experience and expertise in movement, diagnostic and spatial modeling skills, and a manual therapy style focused on restoring alignment and quality of movement to help his clients move better, feel better, and live better. To learn more or schedule an appointment, please visit his website,

Monday- A Day of Remembrance

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WOD- Monday 9/11/2017


Push Press (5-5-5-5-5-5)
  -In 10 minutes, establish a 5RM
“9/11 Memorial WOD”

With a Partner

For Time;
-Row 2001M

3 Rounds of;
-11 Box jumps each
-11 Power Cleans (95/135) each
-11 STOH (95/135) each

Time cap: 16




Today is a day in which we are called to remember the heroic sacrifice of those involved in the attacks on our nation on September 11, 2001.  Although to some a workout may seem like a small way to honor those who gave their lives on this day, it is a gesture in which we remember and honor all those who died on this day and in service to others.  It is a way in which we put our brief discomforts aside, using them as a way to honor those who can no longer be with us.  It’s a way that as the CrossFit Big Dane community we can come together and honor some of our nation’s heroes.

We offer special thanks today to our CrossFit Big Dane family members who currently serve as firemen, policemen, and in our armed services.  We are grateful for the service you offer to our community every day.  Some of them around the world will be performing this WOD in their full fire gear; please encourage them and everyone as they do this workout today!

Saturday Partner WOD

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WOD- Saturday 9/09/2017

Skill Session
A. Dumbbell Thrusters (10-10-10-10)
B. Ab Wheel Roll Out (12-12-12-12)
C. Pullup Complex: (4 x 3+3)
  -Strict Pullups + Kipping Pullups

  -R+ build to max reps UB
With a Partner for Time

Run 800M together once then…

3 Rounds for Time;
-30 DB thrusters (35/50s)
-40 Sit ups
-30 pullups/ring rows

Time cap: 17


Friday- Updates!

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WOD- Friday 9/08/2017

Skill Session
A. Front Squat (12-12-12-12)
 -From floor
B. Ring Dips (5-5-5-5)
C. Toes-To-Bar (5-5-5-5)
4 Rounds for Time;
-15 Wall Balls (14/20)
-8 Ring dips/ 14 pushups
-8 T2B/ K2ETime cap: 12


CFBD Logistics and Updates! 

What up Big Dane Nation!  This year has been such a blessing for us as a community.  I just wanted to take a second and again thank you all for being apart of something bigger than ourselves.  It is truly an honor to lead you fine folks each and every day.

As you may have noticed, we are currently operating at/very near max capacity for memberships at CFBD.  Most classes are usually full and there are plenty of new fun faces at the gym.

In the mean time we’ve made a small adjustments to our schedule to accommodate as many athletes as possible.

  • Tuesdays and Fridays: class cap has been increased to 14 per class. 

It is still a hard cap.  Please do the best you can to plan accordingly with your schedule.  Do your best to avoid things like ‘no showing’ to class and late cancellations as these really just short-change your fellow Big Dane athletes by not allowing them to get into the class you had reserved and then did not attend.

Next Cycle Overview

I had recently received a suggestion from a member that a brief overview of the next cycle to come might be helpful.  While we are in the 1st week of a new cycle already I have put together an overview for you nonetheless.  In the future I will be sure to publish this info ahead of the start of the new cycle.

Current Cycle (4 weeks: 9/4- 9/30)

Monday Tuesday  Wednesday Friday 
-Strict Press
-Push Press
-OH Squat
-Deadlift (speed DL prep)
-strict pullups
-Front squats
-Ring Dips

This is by no means an exhaustive overview, but should give you a general idea of what we’ll be focusing on.

General Notes:

  • Overhead barbell pressing emphasis.
    • Remember: difference between the Push PRESS and the Jerk.
      • Knees= stay locked out through press/finish.
  • T2B and Pullups may be interchangeable between Tue and Fri.
  • New emphasis: SPEED Deadlift, see FB instructional video.
    • Goal= increase contractile potential of muscle groups responsible for pulling from floor (make you faster).
  • Front squats: reps will prescribed in the hypertrophy range (8-12).  This is intentional.  Let’s add some muscle mass to that ass! 🙂
    • High-rep does NOT necessarily mean low weight.  Go AHAP.
  • Specials: Monday September 11th= partner WOD in observation of 9/11.

Thursday- Active Recovery

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WOD- Thursday 9/07/2017

With a Partner

AMRAP  10;
-30 D-ball Cleans (50/75)
-40 Air squats
-30 DB Cleans (35/50s)

20 minutes of guided mobility and yoga based exercises focused on relaxation and improvement of range of motion


Active Recovery

The question has been asked by a few people lately; “what is active recovery/ what should I be doing for active recovery days?”

What is Active Recovery

Active recovery is done on a “rest” day.  It is a low to maybe moderate intensity work session that is done in an effort to help the recovery process.  We “abuse” our bodies during regular training sessions; running, jumping, squatting and pulling heavy weights.  Active recovery modalities are best chosen to be low impact activities- more details on this later.  Typical time domains vary from at least 20 minutes to a max of 1 hour depending on intensity.  

The basic idea here is to do some work to literally get your blood pumping.  More and more studies and anecdotal research has proven to show that an active recovery session will help your recovery process more than doing nothing at all.  

What You Can Do

The following is a list of active recovery modalities that I would recommend in order of preference;

1- Swimming (You’re best choice)

Swimming is absolutely the best option for an active recovery session.  It is as low-impact as modalities come.  You can get a great “cardio” based session that will not beat up your body.  Not a former competitive swimmer?  That’s OK!  You don’t necessarily have get in the pool and log a bunch of laps.  If you’re not a strong swimmer you can get in the water and just do dynamic movements like high knees and butt kicks etc.  Not only is it great for your body, but it directly relates to one of the major aspects of being a fitter and better individual by “regularly learning and practicing new sports and activities.”  Take at least 30 minutes to work on this one including warm up.  When I do this I usually do a 5-10 minute warm up in the pool with some easy dynamic movements followed by 15-20 minutes of stroke work.  Doesn’t have to be fancy here just some basic breast strokes or front crawl resting whenever you need.  

2- Take a Hike!

This is a very close second to swimming.  The impact on the body is only slightly higher, but what I love about this mode is that it forces you to get outside the box and explore new areas.  Again, fitness is also about getting outside and trying new things.  Intensity is pretty low in this one and you invested time in getting to the location so you probably want to make at least an hour for this one.  There are tons of great trails in the Madison area!

3- Biking or Rowing

Ideally you would own a road bike for this one.  Again, forcing yourself to get outside and tear up a new trail.  The key here is to just get lost and try new things.  You can ride as long as you feel good- 20 minutes is probably the minimum, but if you’re feeling good and enjoying yourself, feel free to get lost for an hour.  If you don’t have a bike or the time to go for a ride, a good alternative is a quick rowing session.  Put the damper down low and just keep moving at an easy “conversational” pace for 20-30 minutes.

Finish With Mobility!!!

This is very important.  No matter what modality you choose, budget at least 5 minutes to get a good stretch in.  Doesn’t have to be elaborate, just hit the basics- hammys, quads, shoulders and any other area you think you might need some work in.  This is a great opportunity to increase your flexibility and you will feel much better for it!


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WOD- Wednesday 9/06/2017

Deadlift (5-5-5+)
EMOM x 3;
-2 Speed Deadlift (about 50%) then…

Continue to 531 ;
-5 reps at 65%
-5 reps at 75%
-Max reps at 85%*

*Round down;
-0-150: 5
-150-250: 10
-250-350: 15
-350+: 20


2 Sets;
-2 Strict Pullups (find metcon)
-10 KB swings

-3/4 strict Pullups
-20 KB swings (50/70)
-10 burpees



Monday- Breaking Down the Push Press

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WOD- Monday 9/04/2017

1. Shoulder Press (8-8-8-8-8)
2. Push Press (6-6-6-6-6)
In 15 minutes;
-build to an 8RM on strict press then proceed immediately to find a 6RM push press.


2 Sets;
-10 DUs

-15 STOH (65/95)
-30 DUs


Breaking Down the Push Press

The push press is a great full body exercise that requires lower body and core strength and power as well as a dose of some decent upper body pressing strength.  The push press is foundational to the jerk which is half of the holy grail lift of olympic weightlifting the clean and jerk.  Improving your push press has a plethora of carry over benefits the will help with all overhead movements from the jerk to handstand and regular pushups.  

Breaking it Down

We’re going to take a look at 2 main parts (with subgroups) of the push press and review ideal positions and progressions. They are;

  1. Set up
    1. Stance and Grip
    2. Midline stability
  2. Execution
    1. The Dip
    2. The Drive
    3. The Press

The Set Up


When performing a push press you start in the front rack(FR) position.  This FR position is similar to that of a front squat but with 1 major change.  Hand and elbow position.

When setting up in the FR position for the push press you need the bar to be resting on your shoulders.  If you took your hands off the bar you should still be able to support the weight in an upright position. From there we need to talk about your grip and elbow positioning.

The grip in a push press is different from that of a front squat.  For the PP you want to have your whole hand (all 4 fingers) under the bar and ideally your palm as well. You ‘can’ grip the bar somewhat tightly as long as it does not sacrifice for a solid front rack position.  

Elbows should be in front of the bar slightly.  However, if you have the mobility, you can drop your elbows ever so slightly to put yourself in a more ideal to press the bar later in the movement.  Again, this should NOT come at the expense of a good front rack (bar resting on the shoulders).

Stance. Your feet can be hip to shoulder width.  Basically whichever you are most comfortable with as long as you’re not doing anything weird.

Midline Stability

It’s important to have a strong and braced core with performing this lift. This allow you to translate all of the force you will produce from your leg into the bar.

To set your core, squeeze your butt to set your pelvis and spine in a neutral position. Then contract your abdominals just like if you were trying to show off your abs. Then release your glutes and hold your abs tight throughout the movement.

The Execution

The Dip

Success in the PP is set up by an ideal dip position.  When performing the dip you should think about initiating with your knees by pushing them forward and out.  This is to keep your hips forward and directly under your shoulders- to maintain a perfectly vertical torso.

Some common flaws in the dip are mostly not maintaining a vertical torso.  This comes from either pushing your but back in the dip.  Which, i know, is hard because that what we usually initate with in almost all other lifts.  Another flaw is leaning forward at the bottom of your dip at the bottom. This comes from allowing the weight to ‘pull’ you forward into the position it wants you to be in versus the position you should be in. Imagine you are doing the PP with your back to a wall. When you dip think as if you are going to lean your shoulders back into the wall.  

The Drive

The drive is what initiates all upward momentum and is the biggest source of power in the PP. This is a leg driven movement. You want to imagine you are driving the bar off your shoulders and indeed you should perform as such.  As you go into the drive think of exploding through your lower body as if to do a box jump. Your feet should stay on the ground however. Once the bar has left your shoulders your legs need to stay ‘locked out.’  When I was first learning this exercise it helped me to squeeze my quads and glutes upon fully extending my legs at the end of the drive. This will ensure that you don’t rebend the knees.

The Press (and finish)

As I said, you need to keep your legs locked out through the finish. This is to force the shoulders to take over and finish the 2nd half of the press.  This is important for developing upper body pressing strength that will carry over to all other overhead lifts.  

Once the bar has left your shoulders (as a result of an explosive leg drive) you shoulders will take over and finish the press just like any other pressing movement. Just like in the drive, you want to press the bar as fast as you can. Always aim to be as explosive as possible when lifting the bar even if heavier weights slow the lift down- your intent should be the same.