Training Tips

  • 4 Core Exercises For Stronger Olympic Lifts

    Unbelievable Abs?

    In Olympic weightlifting, the core is always used in more of an isometric and stabilizing manner. The abs are never actually in flexion as if performing crunches or sit-ups.

    In this regard, doing crunches and sit-ups will have almost no carry over to the Olympic lifts. Instead, core work for Olympic lifters should be performed as isometric holds or where other parts of the body are moving while the core is stabilized.

    Examples of great exercises that will transfer over to Olympic lifting are planks, isometric positional holds with a barbell, Hyperextension holds on a GHD machine and weighted leg extensions.

    1. Planks

    While doing planks, the athlete should keep their core tight and not allow their abs to sink into the ground. Ideally, this should be held for 30 seconds to around 2 minutes.

    2. Barbell Isometric Holds

    For isometric positional holds, the weight should be around 85-95% of the athlete’s best clean or snatch and the position should be held around 10 seconds.

    3. GHD Hyper Extension Holds

    Hyperextension holds on a GHD machine should be done around 15-30 seconds and depending on the strength of the athlete, a barbell may or may not be used.

    4. Weighted Leg Extensions

    For weighted leg extensions, a plate should be put on the shins while the athlete extends the legs out and then brings them back to the body.

    Make sure to keep the small of the back flat against the ground and the feet do not return to the ground while performing this exercise. The rep scheme should be 10-15 reps of this.


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  • CrossFit and Olympic lifting are very quad dominant sports in general. In a nutshell, this means that over time, the hamstrings become underdeveloped in relation to the quadriceps. There tends to be much more focus on the extension of the legs and squatting than hinging and deadlifting.

    In the sport of Olympic Weightlifting however, performing a pure deadlift does not necessarily transfer over to a clean or snatch as well because the positioning is very different from a clean or snatch pull.

    As a result of this, we need certain exercises that will train the hamstrings and glutes, but also will mimic the positioning of the lifts.

    For this we use:

    1. Good mornings
    2. Romanian deadliftsThese both mimic the shoulders being over the bar similar to the clean and the snatch. You can throw in additional work with RDLs to focus on the isometric strength as well, such as RDLS with a pause in the bottom position.

      You can do single-leg RDLs as well. These will challenge your balance extremely and build musculature you didn’t know you had! (Read more about the benefits of single-leg RDL’s here.)

      Other great exercises:

    3. Glute ham raises are also a great option for building your hamstrings and glutes.
    4. Weighted hip-ups are great as well for developing the glutes and focusing on glute “activation”.

    Check out our FREE Brute Booty playbook for more tips, exercises, and mistakes to avoid when building your go muscles (the posterior chain.) It’s all the rage these days.

  • Have you ever wondered how your 245 clean stacks up to that one big guy in the gym who cleans 275?

    Maybe he’s 60 pounds heavier than you and you are thinking there must be some way to accurately measure the difference pound for pound. There is a way!

    A little hidden gym all Olympic Weightlifters know about is called the Sinclair Formula. In a nutshell, the Sinclair Formula is an algorithm that compares your bodyweight to how much you can clean and jerk and snatch.

    Let’s take the example from above. Let’s say you weigh 170 lbs. and you can clean 245. Once you put these to numbers in the calculator, you will get a coefficient of 138.60.

    Now let’s take a look at the big guy across the gym who just cleaned 300lbs. He weighs 235 lbs. and his Sinclair coefficient calculates to 135.29.

    So technically you are pound for pound stronger than him, even though he lifts more weight. Here is a link to the calculator so you can play around with it:

    It will tell you pound for pound how you stack up to anybody. For powerlifting for the squat, bench, and deadlift you can use the Wilks formula and works just the same:

    On the topic of calculators, we have one of our own. The Brute Strength Calculator will show you exactly how your leg strength, overhead strength and speed-strength measure up against each other. This is extremely useful to know because it will determine where you should be spending your time and energy in the gym if you’re trying to move the heaviest weight possible.

    Hope you enjoy these simple tools to add a little more excitement and competition between you and your friends!

  • What should your front squat be in comparison to your back squat?


    The answer to this question is sometimes over complicated. If we assess these two movements in terms of where the bar is placed the answer becomes clearer. In the front squat the bar is placed on the front of the deltoid in front of the vertebral column. As a result of it being placed forward of such the bar creates a forward torque on the body.

    For those with a weak upper back and core, this becomes what we refer to as a “turtling” effect where the upper back rounds. Even in higher-level lifters, as the weight gets heavier this effect can sometimes be present.

    Whereas in the back squat the bar is placed directly above the vertebral column. This results in no torque in either direction. As a result of all of these facts it is clear your front squat should be lower than your back squat, but how much lower?

    Most lifters will have a front squat that is 80-90% of their best back squat. When the front squat is higher than 90% of your best back squat typically you are quad dominant. This is no need to be alarmed, however, some posterior chain (hamstrings, lower back, glutes) work is certainly necessary to correct the issue as too much quad dominance can cause all sorts of issues.

    So how do your back and front squats stack up against each other? Are you spending your time in the gym efficiently by correcting strength imbalances? Whether you realize it or not, these imbalances are what’s keeping you from finally seeing a new PR in your snatch, or clean and jerk.

    Knowing exactly where these imbalances lie can be tricky though. That’s why we’ve created a tool that will show you where you’re weakest and help you correct it with smart programming.

    Click here to identify your weakest link and start making PR’s again.

  • The pandemic outbreak of CV19 is the most significant event in most of our lifetimes.

    With fitness centers closing around the world, both CF Games athletes and the fitness enthusiast who does a 1-hour class 3-6 times a week have been forced to change not only the frequency of training sessions but the equipment, the volume, and the intensity.

    Sounds like a de-load to me.

    If you have a smart coach, they are strategically planning de-loads into your training cycle that allows for supercompensation.

    Supercompensation is a period in the training cycle where volume is decreased, intensity is reduced, variation is often introduced for “fun” and “change of stimulus” ie more unilateral work, equipment variation, and/or lighter weights.

    It is a time in the training cycle where rest is inadvertently programmed by reducing the time each athlete spends under tension. It is needed, it is highly underutilized, and now is the best time to embrace this forced change.

    But most de-loads only last for one week because of the pressure of the training cycle. Here we have a break in regular programming that may last months.

    Now economically for everyone, this pandemic is horrendous. I own a gym myself and we are facing seriously stressful times not knowing if and when we are able to re-open.

    So I know… no one wants to forcibly reduce their training, no one wants to lose the potential of earning prizemoney at international events, no gym owner wants to face bankruptcy, no one wants their freedom taken away and no one wants to be restricted from testing themselves in the gym or in a competition they have been dedicating so many hours to and are excited for…

    BUT….from a holistic perspective, so many athletes should take this time to:

    • heal injuries
    • take the pressure off their performances.
    • mentally relax
    • forcibly reduce load through joints that have never had such a long break perhaps for years.
    • take more rest days, take a week of rest and truly heal tissues and joints that need do simply do nothing.
    • reduce training volume to a level that is truly enjoyable without external pressure.
    • spend time doing the things they have been feeling neglectful of due to their training volume
    • improve their relationships that get neglected from time in the gym
    • plan what next year could look like after the reset button has been pushed.

    If the CrossFit games are canceled or postponed this year, could we potentially see a group of athletes in 2021 who has been rejuvenated from a forced de-load of months, hungrier than ever to showcase the improvements they have made and with fewer injuries than ever in the field?

    Only time will tell.

    A criticism of the Games is that it is an annual event and athletes in our sport burn out young.

    Many things can come out of this situation, so if you are one of the millions who is restricted from their usual training volume. Consider it a blessing in disguise.

  • Swimming for CrossFit Athletes

    Swimming for GPP

    Swimming for GPP can be an athlete’s best friend. There isn’t one way to improve your general physical preparedness but here are a few reasons why I would recommend almost all athletes use swimming for GPP training.

    For an age group athlete (under 18), it can aid in helping build an aerobic base and improved lung capacity, along with coordination of arms and legs.

    When it comes to elite athletes who are fairly conditioned all season long and mostly work on peripheral skills for their sport, swimming can help with taking the “load” off and alleviate stress put on the joints during land exercises and specific land training.

    In this way, the elite athlete can use swimming for recovery and conditioning when sport specific skills are less important. Not to mention, when it comes to high intensity training with minimal impact, swimming can be your best form of training to avoid the high impact seen on land and in high intensity activity.

    Training Frequency for Health and Longevity

    Athletes training for health and longevity should at the very least try to get into a pool 1 time per week for an hour.

    Anything upwards of that is a bonus. There aren’t many activities one can do that will force them to take notice of their breathing. In swimming, this is fundamental in order to move efficiently… or move at all for that matter.

    I believe that on top of all of the therapeutic benefits we know swimming offers, swimming can quite literally teach us to breathe, which once understood, will transcend into all other activities one does for health and fitness.

    Swimming for Recovery

    Swimming for recovery is programmed based on the swimmers current level. A more advanced swimmer can afford to do 2000m+ of swimming at a heart rate of <140; they have the efficiency and skill.

    A beginner level swimmer would be more limited in what they can do but they could still use swimming. For them I would advise on using fins and kicking with a flutter board or shorter swim distances that doesn’t compromise their technique.

    Swimming for Competitive Athletes

    Swimming should be in all competitive CrossFit athletes’ training, as swimming is showing up more and more in CrossFit competitions.

    When it comes to training in terms of becoming “fitter” swimming is a great tool for building aerobic capacity without the punishment taken from high impact activities, like running for example.

    Without bashing other modalities of training, swimming is just another way to stay aerobically primed and can be a wise alternative for athletes who may suffer from minor injuries. It can also come in handy for athletes rehabbing injuries who don’t want to lose base fitness.

    I can go on all day about how great a semi-buoyant environment is for training.

    Balancing Swim Specific Training with Mixed Modal Training

    Programming for swimming specifically is periodized just like any other sport (except E-Gaming… not sure how they do it).

    You have phases of training and you coach the athlete for their goal race, typically over a period of 48 weeks. It’s fairly linear.

    Programming swimming in mixed modal training is mostly based on the athletes goal at that time but also the other modalities involved.

    My ability to “play” with the workout is more limited as the athlete may have had a heavy leg day in their other training, so I’m cautious in how much more load they can take for that body part.

    Overtraining/overreaching is important in both specific swim training and mixed modal training but it takes a lot more consideration in the latter. However, no matter the goal, I always want one thing for all athletes in mixed modal sport to achieve in their training session and that is to have the athlete learn something new about themselves.

    If the athlete can leave the session knowing that no matter what unforeseen obstacles may appear on competition day, that they have the “tools” to overcome them, then I’ve done my job in programming the right workouts.

    Self awareness is perhaps the most underrated skill in sport, mostly because it requires the athlete to fail a ton, reflect and try again.

    3 Most Common Mistakes CrossFit Athletes Make in the Water

    First mistake is their approach to training. I typically see short sessions with a lot of attempting to swim and basing swimming success on their WHOOP score or heart rate.

    Swimming is a highly technical sport and requires a lot of detailed practice to become more proficient in. However, if all you want is to spike your heart rate, no need for the drill work…

    Which leads me to point two. I see a lot of “fast” swimming up and down. Everyone wants to swim like Phelps, but no one wants to do the training required for performance.

    Yes, practice is not always sexy or instagram worthy. To get better at swimming, practice the fundamentals! Yes they are boring and yes they can be challenging but like I said in the previous point, swimming requires finesse, and a lot of that is gained from doing drills such as the side-kick.

    The final mistake I see is long breaks in training. CrossFit athletes sometimes tend to get really into a training modality and once it’s not potentially present in a upcoming competition, they stop cold turkey.

    Taking breaks is important, but only for 1 or 2 weeks. After this point, you should at the very least try to maintain the training you’ve built. Keeping at minimum a once a week swim session will go a long way when you want to ramp it back up for a competition.

    It will take less time to get competition ready and will mitigate the chance for injuries.

    In terms of technical mistakes in the water… let’s call them lack of training.

    1 – Low hips and heavy legs due to poor body position.

    2 – Over kicking to attempt to get the hips up.

    3 – Swimming freestyle with no rotation; very flat freestyle.

    How to Break Bad Habits

    Breaking bad swimming habits with CrossFit athletes is not difficult. CrossFitters are typically keen to learn better movement patterns.

    My most common starting point to breaking bad habits is by showcasing that swimming can be done with ease just by changing your body position in the water.

    Once they realize that learning how to “float” better can make it easier to swim longer, they buy into all the other drills and skills designed to break bad habits and create better movement. In short, selling the idea that technique goes a long way in swimming makes all the difference.

    Measuring Progress in the Pool

    I use two benchmarks to assess an athletes natural abilities in the water, but also their progress. The first is the endurance test, which for most CrossFit athletes is a 400m swim freestyle. The second benchmark is a sprint test, which is typically a 50m swim freestyle.

    This gives me a speed/distance index. From this, I can get a bigger picture of whether the athlete needs more speed, technique or endurance. Usually it is a combination of all three varying in percentage spent on each.

    3 Essential Drills for CrossFit Athletes

    The three drills I like to use with CrossFit athletes are the superman kick drill, the dribble drill and the catch-up freestyle drill.

    The superman kick really teaches the athlete to find a great body position for moving through the water effortlessly.

    The second drill is dribble drill. This pretty much is a broken down freestyle that forces the athlete to get comfortable not only on their front but on their side. The side-kick position in swimming is extremely important. It’s a difficult position, but once mastered goes a long way to improving quickly.

    My final drill for crossfitters is the catch-up freestyle. This drill works well with CrossFit athletes because it teaches them patience.

    I eventually want them to move away from doing catch-up strokes, but when you are a beginner, this drill works wonderfully in teaching the athlete to calm down and that they won’t sink if they don’t fight the water.

    Programming for Competitors vs. Folks Who Just Want to Stay Fit

    Program design for a competitor is geared more to the side of periodization to peak for their competition. My approach for a competitor is “how do I get this athlete to get the best possible result on competition day.”

    From there, I work backwards. A competitors program has strict parameters that should be followed diligently. Some days the athlete may feel beat and broken. Failing in training is not out of bounds and can happen often.

    My job is to set these parameters correctly so that the athlete is challenged and loaded gradually until it is time to peak.

    For an athlete wanting to stay in shape, there are some similarities in terms of periodizing their training, however the finish line is not as concrete.

    Without the time constraint to peak at a very specific time, my approach is having the athlete leave the session feeling challenged but never broken. Longevity is more commonly the state of mind.

    Not to say that competitors should not strive for longevity, however, “health” is a negotiable when we talk about performance.

    Whether it’s a program for a competitor or an individual wanting to stay in shape, setting clear goals is extremely important for many years of continued success both mentally and physically.

    If you’re ready to reap all the benefits of swimming by adding it into your training schedule, check out for more information on workouts, programming and coaching options.

    Also, be sure to follow us on social media @trainsinkorswim for regular swim tip videos, drills and much more!

  • CrossFit Open Workout 19.5 Strategy

    Thrusters and chest-to-bar pull-ups have been in every CrossFit Open so far — so is anyone even surprised by this workout?

    Whether you’re shocked or not, you still want to crush this final workout in the competition — and that’s what we’re here for.

    Join Brute coaches Adrian Conway and Nick Fowler for your 19.5 warm-up and strategy guide.

    What can you do in 20 minutes? Prove it.

    Here’s the workout:

    33-27-21-15-9 reps for time of:

    Thrusters (95/65)

    Chest-to-bar pull-ups

    Time cap: 20 minutes

  • It wouldn’t be the CrossFit Open if we didn’t see at least one burpee, would it? Well, 19.4 is keepin’ the tradition alive with 72 of them 😬

    Join Brute coaches Adrian Conway and Nick Fowler for your warm-up and plan for conquering this week’s challenge.

    The workout:

    For total time:

    3 rounds of:

    10 snatches (95/65)

    12 bar-facing burpees

    Then, rest 3 minutes before continuing with:

    3 rounds of:

    10 bar muscle-ups

    12 bar-facing burpees


    Time cap: 12 minutes

  • 19.3 CrossFit Open Tips

    It’s go time for CrossFit Open Workout 19.3 and Brute coaches Adrian Conway and Nick Fowler are back with your strategy and warm-up.

    If you like hanging out upside down — you’ll like this one 🙃

    The workout:

    For time:

    200-ft. dumbbell overhead lunge

    50 dumbbell box step-ups

    50 strict handstand push-ups

    200-ft. handstand walk

    50-lb. dumbbell, 24-in. box

    Time cap: 10 minutes

  • CrossFit Open 19.2 Strategy

    Brute coaches Adrian Conway and Nick Fowler are back again with your warm-up and strategy for tackling this week’s CrossFit Open Workout.

    16.2 is here! Again. Basically.  

    Here’s the workout:

    Beginning on an 8-minute clock, complete as many reps as possible of:

     25 toes-to-bars

     50 double-unders

     15 squat cleans, 135 lb.

     25 toes-to-bars

     50 double-unders

     13 squat cleans, 185 lb.

    If completed before 8 minutes, add 4 minutes to the clock and proceed to:

     25 toes-to-bars

     50 double-unders

     11 squat cleans, 225 lb.

    If completed before 12 minutes, add 4 minutes to the clock and proceed to:

     25 toes-to-bars

     50 double-unders

     9 squat cleans, 275 lb.

    If completed before 16 minutes, add 4 minutes to the clock and proceed to:

     25 toes-to-bars

     50 double-unders

     7 squat cleans, 315 lb.

    Stop at 20 minutes.

    Warm up without wearing out.

    Approach the warm-up as a way to get your blood flowing and grease your grooves without fatiguing yourself. Focus on movement patterns more than anything.

    When it comes to the barbell, we don’t suggest warming up to your max weight. Instead, shoot for around 75/85% of what your goal weight is so that your muscles are getting used to lifting heavy without wasting your heaviest lift.

    The biggest thing we saw in 16.2 and that we don’t want to repeat is people neglecting their breathing.  

    There’s a big aerobic element to this one, so make sure you’re warmed up — and you’re breathing through the workout.

    Our warm-up for 19.2:


    8 min. air bike

    Do 4 min. @ recovery pace

    *Every 60 sec. after +5RPM




    2 rounds

    8 monster walks

    10 alt single leg glute bridges

    8 banded good mornings

    10 alt Cossack squats

    10 squat thoracic rotation

    10 singles


    Then… (Put lifters on if you need them to get in good positions)

    Empty BB positional work — hi-hang/ hang/below knee/mid-section


    2 Rounds

    10 beat kips

    3 muscle cleans

    10 alt front rack rotations

    3 power cleans

    3 front squats

    2-4 TTB

    10 double-unders


    Then… Complete the following, but do not go heavier than your 85% (use your corresponding weight for your division)



    2 sets all singles on barbell

    2-4 TTB

    10 dubs

    5 singles @ 135#/85#



    2 sets

    2-4 TTB

    10 dubs

    3 singles @ 185#/115#


    2 sets

    2 singles @ 225#/145#

    Rest 60 sec.


    1 set

    1-2 singles @ 275#/145#

    Rest 60 sec.


    1 set

    1-2 singles @ 225#/145#

    **Shut down the cleans one round (weight) prior to your max

    Rest 2-3 min.


    Gear up.

    You’re executing this great workout… you’re flying through it… kicking ass… taking names…. then… BAM: your jump rope snaps.

    And you have to do the entire thing over again 😭 😭 😭

    ^ Don’t be that person.

    Grab your go-to jump rope. Then have a back-up pair right next to it in case, god forbid, your old faithful isn’t so faithful.

    Find your favorite bar in the gym and be picky over the height if you can.

    If you’re used to wearing lifting shoes while doing movements like double-unders, then go for it. Or if you know your lifts will be much smoother with your shoes then maybe consider switching them out mid-workout before the lifting portion.

    As far as a belt goes, if you decide to wear one just don’t tighten it until you’re going for your max load because it will affect your breathing if you have it tight throughout the entire workout.

    Drama queen when it comes to sweating? Consider wearing sweat grips and wristbands to stop the waterworks and keep your hands dry. The wrist bands can also help take some pressure off of your wrist if you’re used to them.

    Devise your plan.

    You’re not in a race with another person— you’re in a race against the clock.

    Toes-to-bar: Unless you’re an absolute gymnastics ninja, breaking it up early and often is a good idea. Try starting with sets of five.

    Double-unders: Depending on your aerobic capacity, you could go 25 or 50 unbroken if you’re into that kind of stuff.

    Barbell: Do your cleans one at a time. We believe it’s a huge error to assume starting fast at the lower bar will create any kind of advantage. Attempting to do touch and go with these reps will likely lead you to break down later in the workout.

    Overall, be patient with yourself in this workout and operate a little slower than you normally would to get in a good rhythm.

    For all of our tips and strategies for this workout — watch our full episode.

    See you next week!