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Back Squat | WOD 10.8.14

Fitness: 3 x 5 Linear Progression
Add 5 pounds to last week.

Performance: 5/3/1 3 week
70% x 3
80% x 3
90% x 3+

Percentages are based off your TRAINING MAX (90% of a recent 1RM). Aim to hit 6 plus on the rep out, but save 2 reps in the tank. 

Post loads to comments.

10 Rounds for Time:
3 Deadlifts 225/155
3 Dumbbell Hang Cleans + Push Presses (Rx 45%xBW) 

5 Rounds for Time:
5 Power Snatches 135/95
3 Muscle Ups

Post time and Rx to comments.

Michael A. getting up on the box. Fight Gone Bad is 10 days away! Are you ready?

News and Notes

  • The gym will be closed this weekend after the noon class on Friday, reopening Monday morning. Check out all the alternative offerings we're hosting in the Events column to the right!
  • Congrats again to all our FGB fundraisers! As of 11:46pm last night, we were 39% closer to our goal. How fast can we get to 50%?? (Also, team Wodtoberfest is back in first and Erik B. is holding onto his lead!)

Own the Weight: Moving Beyond PR-Dominated Thought

By Noah Abbott

A world-record mile. A half court shot to win a million bucks. A hit single that rules the airwaves for a month or two. Society has become more and more obsessed with the rare and extraordinary, celebrating and venerating the “once-in-a-lifetime” moment over the slow and steady grind of dogged hard work and incremental progress. Seen through this lens, greatness becomes a montage of single-frame snapshots instead of long form cinema verite. 

CrossFitters are not immune to this type of thinking. We celebrate PR’ed lifts and WODs, then cling to the numbers as though they are immutable testaments to our continued performance. This partially attributable to CrossFit’s complicated balance between training and sport.Singular numbers matter during competition, as they may be the difference between a win and a loss. They matter psychologically, as the tangible and obvious payoff from long hours of toil and sacrifice. However, confusing PRs with overall fitness, or becoming too reliant or attached to them, is folly. Consider this statement:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Aristotle was the philosopher’s equivalent of a CrossFit athlete, writing authoritatively on physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theater, music, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, and government. His generalist approach is echoed in that statement: true excellence is the sum total of constantly and consistently repeated action, not a one-time outlier. 

Let this inform your training and factor it into how you plan lifts and cycles and approach workouts. While a big snatch PR is certainly cause for celebration (doubly so and especially during competition) it is not the most important or descriptive indicator of your lifting prowess or overall fitness. What can you snatch reliably, every time? What can you snatch when you’re tired, sore, or haven’t eaten enough? What can you snatch after a 400m run, or before jumping on the bar for a set of pull-ups? What number would you guarantee you can snatch with your life savings on the line?

This thinking applies to Benchmark WODs as well. I know I’m personally guilty of clinging to certain WOD PRs that I haven’t retested in over a year, even bragging (or worse,humblebragging) about them a bit. While this behavior is somewhat natural and human, it also kind of sucks. What good is my “Fran” time from a year ago, under perfect conditions, with a friend supplying motivation and helping me stick to a strategy? Shouldn’t I be as proud of a “Fran” done 30 seconds slower, alone, with no music? 

I submit that we should focus less on our PRs, and more on numbers we “own.” To operationally define “own,” I mean a weight, time, or score that we can hit 9 times out of 10. I know a CFSBK member who has recorded the exact same “Annie” time three times in a row (and it’s a good one!). He can confidently say that he owns his “Annie” time. Likewise, if you’ve squatted your PR multiple times over a fairly broad time spectrum, you own that weight. Let’s focus on what we consistently own, not what we grasp for a fleeting moment. This is especially important when we use 1RM numbers as the basis for planning a cycle of lifts—don’t use your squat 1RM from when you were a college linebacker if you’re currently a 45-year-old computer programmer. 

This type of thinking is psychologically helpful in two ways. First, it is directly relatable to the way we should be training—valuing steady, long-term, and (relatively) permanent progress over quickly achieved and discarded goals. Second, it allows us to simultaneously take it easy on ourselves (for not always PRing) AND understand that consistency in training is the goal. 

Recently I did a training cycle on my own that had one day each week labeled “SNATCH/CLEAN AND JERK 1RM.” While initially exciting, I quickly began to dread 1RM day, feeling that any day I didn’t PR was a disappointment and indicative that my training wasn’t working. I was explaining this feeling to a veteran Olympic lifter, who told me to take it easy on myself.  “As long as you can consistently hit 90% of your 1RM, you’re fine,” he said. I did the math, and realized my 90% number was eminently achievable. In fact, I owned it. I’d hit it a million times. The rest of the cycle went smoothly—I didn’t PR, and didn’t care, because I got better overall. (The Olympic lifter recently qualified for the American Open, so it seems like it’s working for him too.) 

In sum, try and recommit to enjoying not only the successes and bright moments during your training career, but the training itself. Savor the small sacrifices, the little breakthroughs, and the slow build towards mastery and consistency. PRs are the zenith of a pyramid, built on the wide and strong base of training data that is consistent (and trending upward) over time and circumstance. 

Go forth and own it.

The Benefits to Foam Rolling CrossFit Invictus
Why You Hate the Sound of Your Own Voice Slate
IT band cont | Feat. Kelly Starrett MobilityWOD
Your CrossFit Friends CollegeHumor

Reader Comments (32)

6am with Arturo and McD

Did the Perf lift today for backsquat. I worked off of a 330# 1RM, so 230# x 3, 265# x 3, then 300# x 3. I couldn't get past three for the rep-out, so I will likely drop my working 1RM 10# next week. Overall the lifts felt crisp but I definitely felt smoked by the end of the third round.

The metcon today was a surprise nasty one. Hit 8:10 on the perf version at the rx weight. I took Brad's advice and dropped every snatch from the beginning and that saved my arms enough to do the MU's unbroken for every round. Thanks to Alex for hanging around to give me some much-needed encouragement. :)

Great article Noah. I've personally been focused on the 90% of 1RM for most of my lifts, and I've gotten way further than I have previously. It's also awesome to occasionally "surprise" yourself with a 1RM when a set is going really well, but you weren't planning on it. I find that with less of a focus on 1RM's those serendipitous ones actually happen more often.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Affronti

6am with Arturo and McDowell

Back squat: 330x6 for the rep out, the other work sets were 255 and 290. This felt better than last week when I only got 7 at 310. I think that must have just been an off day.

Metcon was rough for me. My wrists are all torn up from a muscle up practice session at open gym last Sunday, and then turning right around into strict muscle up work whenever that was last week. Everything was mostly healed this morning, but I was really uncomfortable hanging from the rings and was trying to take the weight off the torn up area... which resulted in slipping off the rings a few times and prematurely breaking up sets. Snatches went smoothly at 135# though. Ended up with 4 full rounds + 5 snatches at the time cap, and a pair of freshly wounded wrists.

In the spirit of Noah's article, I've really liked working at 80-90% for multiple reps on the oly movements so far this cycle. It's nice to take the pressure off and work at a weight that really allows me to concentrate on doing it correctly - something I have trouble with if it's not part of the programming.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrad D

Ahhh now I know why I hate the sound of my own voice- and that I'm not alone. Funny article.

7:30 Last night with Jess and Noah
3x5 back squat at 125# . This felt hard and I got frustrated about it- silly me.

WOD was more miserable than expected. Did the DL at 115# and 25# dumbells. Did 6 cleans instead of 3 clean/press because of my shoulder.

Finished in 8:15. Everything moved so much slower than I anticipated.
Welcoming today's rest day :)

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJenny M

Great article Noah, little known fact, Aristotle was a certified level 1 crossfit trainer.
7am with McRo,

HBBSq, 45x5, 95x5, 135x4, 190x5x3 My left knee was not enjoying this at all, I considered stopping after the second set.
WOD in 9:40, @185#DL 45#DBs, we are short on 35s and 40s, I used the 10 minutes cap as my target.
I'm noticing a pattern with this cycle's wods, anything involving 2 movements are things to be scared of.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPigeon

I really enjoyed this article, as well! As someone who has no desire to compete athletically, I honestly don’t even want to make PR a part of my vocab. I’ve found that when I become overly-concerned with getting more rounds in or putting more weight on for the sake of putting more weight on, my technique suffers. Over time, I imagine the 4 extra deadlifts with a curved back I squeezed in and the extra 5 lbs I added to my bar when I shouldn't have will eventually add up to lower back pain or arthritis or something.

I think the ultimate PR would be to be 55 with a rocking fit bod and no joint pain. Next time I am feeling disappointed in not making these quickly achieved and discarded goals, I’m going to remember that nothing is more important than steady progress and the long-term health of my body.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAllie B.

6am class with Arturo and McD

HBBS: 185x3, 215x3, 235x3
Easing back into gym life after a couple of months of little training, so I took a conservative weight here and didn't push the rep out. This felt pretty heavy as is.

Got some good tips from Arturo about keeping my breath held at the bottom and not letting my hips go so far back on the HBBS.

Performance WOD with #115 on the bar: 3 rounds + 5 snatches

Snatches were pretty easy at this weight. The challenge was all in the muscleups, which were unbroken the first round then singles after that. Second round was the ugliest to me, and I think my positions on the muscle ups improved as the WOD went on and I started concentrating on it more.

Thanks for the great article, Noah.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlex C

We're taking my mom home from the hospital soon.
Yay! Thanks for the well wishes, all.

In the meantime, I went to CrossFit Rising Fire again.

Bench: find 2RM, then 70% of that for 2 rep-outs. 135x2, then 95x12, 95x9.
Chin-ups: max reps x4 with thin blue band. 10,7,5,5.

10 push press 65# (Rx)
10 burpees

Then 50 ring pikes (push-up position with feet in rings, bring feet to chest). 1:48. My abs were fine but my shoulders were SMOKED so I took a bit of rest here.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStella

6am with Arturo and McDowell. 155x3x5 on the fitness back squats. I still feel like there's plenty of room here to add weight - I might just hit my own bodyweight this cycle. I did the fitness wod in 6:24 with 155# DLs and 30# dumb bells. I could have probably gone a little heavier on both, but walking my daughter to school later was plenty slow and stiff as it was.

I'm not sure if you other 6am-ers noticed, but we got a little bonus this morning. On my walk to the gym there was a brief moment where the clouds parted enough to show a glimpse of the fading lunar eclipse (by then, the moon was only about a half eclipsed-but still pretty spectacular). It was pretty damn awesome and made me happy to be awake at an hour I'm usually not that thrilled about. For me, early classes are a scheduling necessity - I certainly don't get up before the sun because I like it. Quite the contrary, actually (don't get me wrong, though, the 6am crew is super cool). But that little sky-show this morning made dragging my not-a-morning-person ass out of bed a little extra worthwhile today.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterShawn

A+ post Noah!!

I have had my days where I am frustrated about numbers, but I am trying to keep in perspective: 'I have next week, the week after, the week after that...' Let's face it, I am not going to the Olympics anytime soon, nor am I competing in a Powerlifting meet. Consistency really IS key. Having a long term goal is better for me than just a 1RM that may have been a fluke!

Then there are times I even have trouble getting in a mindset I can go higher in weight. like if I have a day where like my 'elbows are not up enough', etc. I am already hesitant to go up next week and think I should just stick around that weight at least another week, even if it wasn't a grind, otherwise...

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCamille

Humblebrag!!!! Yes! So I am in London for work this week and the tuxedo-clad grand piano player in the atrium of my hotel in Marylebone is quite loud, making it hard to sleep. Yesterday I had to go into one of the other rooms in my suite and bang out about 200 push-up in a row to try and tire myself out. Unfortunately that wasn't enough so I did about 400 airsquats. Luckily he stopped just as I was about to deadlift the Louis IX armoire. SOOOO annoying.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJay

10am with Arturo.

45 x 5, 95 x 4, 145 x 3, 165 x 1, 180 x 5 x 3. Again, this felt a little heavy for Week 2, maybe? Hard to tell... I needed both the 'knees out' and 'chest up' cues so maybe I will make a smaller jump next week.

WOD- fitness- 6.06. I messed up on the DB weight here. I did not scale enough on a few workouts last week and I am STILL sore from Sunday so I erred on the light side today. 30# felt too heavy but the 25# were gone so I started with 20# which was way too light, did two rounds there, switched to 30#, which I got through pretty quickly but not unbroken in the last set. Deadlifts were easy at 155#. Fun workout.

Sometimes it is hard to know when and how to scale. I overestimated myself a few times last week and as a result of that, today I was more cautious. I guess the more I CrossFit, the better I will get at knowing what I am and am not capable of. It's like I have to re-learn what my strengths and weaknesses are, since they have most definitely changed significantly since Strength Cycle.

Some DUs and handstands afterwards as well as the cash-out. Looking forward to the kipping workshop on Saturday.

Really enjoyed this article and the comments people have been making so far. Allie, I like your outlook- we must meet soon.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie


Perf HBBS - 105x3, 120x3, 135x10 for the rep out. Still had 2 left.

WOD - 7:19, scaled DL to 145 and used 30lb DB. This is the heaviest all around WOD I remember doing in a long time! DL went ok but DB work was tough.

Cash out was fun. Worked my strict pullups. I am close, just have to eliminate that tiny hip thrust I do to get started.

Great read, thanks Noah!

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMichele W

Great perspective, Noah. 1RMs are fun and provide bragging rights for sure ("What do ya bench, brah?), but knowing what I can do on any given day is more useful. In CrossFit, since we're training so many other things besides strength, our top strength numbers after the pure novice phase are not always on a smooth, consistent, linear rise. As others have said, looking to other markers of progress can be affirmative.


Noon class

Moving just fine, though I wound up a bit forward on each 5th rep

Wasn't going to do the WOD, was going to take a 1/2 "Rest Day" but...

Performance Rx
Rested a lot between movements. First round of snatches was 3/2, then all singles. Muscle Ups unbroken but not super organized. Not a fast time but in the end I'm glad I did it. I feel that I've earned the breakfast torta that I'm about to make.

Cash Out of 5x5 Pull Up to Front Levers was fun. First one of each set was the hardest, then it was like playing on the bars in the playground, except at 41 years old.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFox

make-up post from yesterday:

4:30 with Whit & Noah, working on today's back squats.
Partnered with Serene, 200x5x3 all of which felt solid with plenty of room to go for this cycle.
WOD: #135 DL and #30 DB. In hindsight i should have Rx the deadlifts but underestimated myself, now i know. Finished in 8:02 (i'm very happy anytime i finish under the time cap)!

In addition to posting more often i'm working on being consistant - moving consistently during WODs, consistent in lifting form (especially Oly lifts), and consistently getting to the box.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBeccaWolf

Make-up post from last night's 7:30 class with Jess.

HBBS 120x3, 135x3, 150x6. I could have kept going and still had some in the tank, but I get nervous pushing past the "at least 6..." Damn squatting still scares me. Better positioning in my trunk this week than last week.

Fitness WOD (almost) Rx-ed in 7:24 (I think?), 155# on DL and 30# DB. If I'd done 35#, I think I would have really struggled to press them up well. My last four deadlifts weren't very pretty but that was a fine weight for most of the workout. I was fried from Monday and probably rested too much. Wasn't someone talking about needing a mental break from pushing hard?

Allie, I agree with Charlie, your comment was awesome. This article is really useful. I definitely get too excited about new PRs that make me feel stronger than I am. It's a fine line for me between going for heavy weights to really push myself (and maybe move slower in a WOD) and doing something heavier than my capacity just so I can "feel" strong. I really want to get stronger, and focusing on the weight I "own" will be a subtle and good shift in my head.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKate R

MGMT, will there be a "Saturday option" at the Friday AM classes this week, or will it be Thursday's workout only? Thanks.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterShawn

Noon w/ David & McDowell:

Low-Bar Back Squat:
Performance off a 300# 1RM. Realized during the 90% that the percentages are calculated off the "training max" not 1RM. Oops! Thanks for clearing that up DO. Anyway:
210x3, 240x3, 275x2. And the second at 275 was tough.

Fitness WOD:
225 DL, 40# DBs @ 5:55
Heavy, but since it was a series of short sprints, I enjoyed moving through all of them quickly.

Cash Out:
Worth mentioning, because those pull up front levers were interesting. Hard for me to control my body in a stiff plank position and rotate in and out of them. Fun movement, and looks really cool when performed correctly (thanks McDowell), so I want to practice these before/after class.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRio

@Shawn Yes, we will have a floater WOD for people who come in on Thursday, and again on Friday morning.

October 8, 2014 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

Pre Class Movement Prep

Foam Roll/Couch Stretch
Snatch BB Drills
Crossover Symmetry

4:30pm Class

2 Rounds NFT:
10 DB Thrusters 20#
10 Ring Rows
10 Cal Row

(45x5, 135x5, 155x3)

5 Rounds FT:
5 Power Snatches, 135
3 Kipping Muscle-Ups


Did the Snatches as methodical singles
Did all the muscle-ups unbroken
I liked this metcon!

Did 5 total reps of the Lever assistance work then called it day

October 8, 2014 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

HBBS Wendler 'Three' Week:

175 x 5
205 x 3
235 x 20

WOD @185lbs and 35lb DBs:

Finished in 6:19

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSamir Chopra

6:30 - McD - Noah

HBBS Wendler - 205-230-255x5
5 reps on the rep-out. I'm still behind the prescribed pace, but they felt a lot crisper today. Interested to see how next week goes.

Metcon - Perf - 9:25 - 135+banded MU

All singles on the Snatches, was actually really happy with my pace tonight..I'd take a breath and get back on it. First time with the red-band...and they still felt pretty solid, no missed reps.

Cashout - Two 500m rows

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

6:30 pm

HBBS: 45, 95, 135, 155# 3x5
Focusing on slowing down my descent and maintaining tension. Actually felt like I was getting the hang of it...but made the weight feel SO much heavier. Good place to be for today.

fitness WOD: 6:07 w/ 155# DL & 30# DB
-felt uncoordinated with the hang clean and press for the first few rounds. Got a little better. No repped myself on a few sloppy presses to punish myself. This was 45% my BW but probably should've gone with 35#. O well!

Then: Acupuncture post game. That's the good stuff right there.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterK HarpZ

I've started coming in straight from the office on Monday and Wednesday and getting some solid AR time before 6:30 class

Today I was wiped out and really hungry, but I'm heading out of town with strong intentions of minimal physical activity so I gave it my best shot.

Lap, rolled out hamstrings, shoulders, traps, quads

6:30 class - everything felt slower and harder than normal
Lap, Warm up 1 x2 w 20#db

HBBS - 45x5, 95x3, 120x3, 137x3, 157x4?5?
Just felt hard and ugly so racked it

10 RNDs in 5:31 of:
3 Deadlifts @ 150 - we thought it was 155..oops
3 DB cleans @ 25ea - didn't do presses bc my shoulders are smoked

Pretty poor training day, but always fun to be in the gym and I kind of have to move around after being in the office all day and the long commute.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

6:30 class with Noah and McDowell. Hbbs at 130x3 150x3 165x7. Felt pretty good. Then did the fitness workout in 5:07 with 155# deadlifts and 35# dumbbells. I liked this one and managed to rest less than I usually do mid-wod.

I benched myself for the last few days due to some heel pain (plantar fasciitis apparently! Whooo!), but it felt better after lots of stretching, and even better still following a brutal calf mash session as recommended by Melo. I hereby promise to take care of my shit and do stretching, foam rolling, and/or lax balling every day for no less than 20 minutes.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Mc

Make that 15 minutes let's be real.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Mc

Day something of this brutal training program.

Jerk, 3RM, -5%x3x2

HBBS, 10RM, -5%, -10% x10

BTN Push Press, 8RM, -5%x8

Bent over rows, 10RM, -5%, -10%


October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJakeL

Interestingly, I also had an experience with a training cycle that called for a 1RM in each lift, every week. Just like Noah, I began to dread it, and my lifting suffered due to the stress. I went so far as to actually trash that cycle and start a new one.

Here's to consistency, and to those rare moments of glory that poke through every so often and rain a little PR juice on your head.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJakeL

Oh yeah ps @noah finally sat down and read your article. Thanks for this! It's especially helpful to have this advice coming back from an injury..where I have been slowly figuring out where I stand compared to last year. Following CFSBKs principles I have learned not to be a hero and will not retest a single 1RM until I feel completely ready.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterK HarpZ

8:30 with Melissa. Tried warmup 2 tonight but my right elbow is still totally blown for pull ups, too bad. Back to thrusters!

Hbbs 250x5x3 with Joe and Jay, both of whom make it look easy! This was actually better than last week and only the last rep felt a little grind-y. Note to self, at this weight, staying back is super important!

WOD: well, I'm back to thinking my scoli decrepitude limits my deadlift, so did this at 155# & 40# dbs, which is the Rx 45% at least. Since the dls were light for me I did this at a sprint. Slowed down a little at the end but finished in 3:32.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdave p

Great article Noah!

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMurat A

Well, today was a day of training that I wouldn't write home about.

12pm class with McD and DO.

-x-over symmetry, pushups and pistols

HBBS 5/3/1
(45x5, 95x5, 135x3)
-used a belt for the last set. given how sore I've been from group class programming and soccer, I was surprised how good this felt.

WOD, however was a shit show.
-Since yesterday I had planned on doing the Fitness WOD rx'd. Had already written it in my notebook and even changed my shoes after squatting to get ready for it but then somehow was 'convinced' to do performance. Bad idea.
-First round of 95# snatches were unbroken and I did banded muscle-up transitions with strict dips. But then, I lost my confidence in the snatch and just fell apart. Like tears fall apart. David noted that I was keeping the bar far away from my shins during my pull and like always, I just have a hard time getting underneath it. After 2.5 rounds, I eventually dropped to 85#. Also switched to 6 c2b pullups each round. Not a legit substitution but I'm just happy that I didn't just walk out of the gym after round 2. Trust me, this was a very real option at the time.
-Finished my hybrid mess in 9 and change, though that means nothing.

What's interesting is that my performance today ties into Noah's article so well. I know that I can on any day hit a 95# snatch. However, can I hit it 25 times consistently under duress? Obviously not. I didn't scale today's performance WOD appropriately and my training (and ego!) suffered from that. Thanks for the well-written and apparently well-time article Noah!

I'm off to Ohio to deal with tons of 'fun' family stuff so see you guys next week. Will try to keep up with programming while I'm out there.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterlady fox

I <3 you, Noah.

October 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChris Yun

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