Variation in instruction.

October 20, 2016

Hello all.  First off.  Olympic Lifting is ON  at 7pm thursday 10/20 and the Thursday WOD is posted just below this one.

On a different note, I wanted to briefly speak to this circumstance.  There have been a couple of occasions where members have come to me and said words to the effect of  “Brandon (Or Kayla, or Jill, Or Whitney, or Jade)  said when I’m deadlifting (or Front squatting,or double unders, or Split Jerking etc)  I should  do “X” but I thought YOU said don’t do “X” do “Y”?

This is a very legitimate question, I understand the potential for confusion and please DO ask if you find yourself in this situation.  The best I can address this question is to say that while some aspects of a given lift or movement or technique are universally accepted as written in stone, other aspects are more subjective.

For a number of different reasons some tips that work well for this athlete may not work as well for THAT athlete. Physical differences like limb length, torso girth, a particular weak spot spring to mind.  Sometimes, perhaps if a person is very new, we might cut acorner on some small stuff, in order to insure that the big stuff gets through.  For example, I often say “put your weight in your heels” to an athlete who has a hard time getting out of her toes.  In reality it’s the midfoot, but at least for the moment, HEELS is easier to understand and feel.

Relatedly, CrossFit draws upon movements from a number of sports and exercise domains, and in doing so often changes their application.  For instance, CrossFit’s use of Olympic lifts in high rep sets done rapidly (as in: GRACE- 30 Clean and Jerks for time) is never replicated by strictly adherent Olympic Lifters, who train almost exclusively towards improving their maximal (1 rep) strength.  Some significant changes to the setup and execution of a clean and jerk will occur between an attempt at your 1 rep max and an attempt at your fastest possible GRACE. The failure to fully grasp this discrepancy is the source for a lot of the criticism CrossFit receives from the many specialists demographics that we (CrossFit) borrow from. But that’s another post…  More relevant to YOU is that if I said one thing and Kayla said another, it may have been with these different contexts in mind.

I use the phrase “Youtube can be a CrossFitter’s best friend”  because indeed there is easy access to a ton of information, but one downside of youtube is you are apt to run across some information that’s contradictory.   Below are a few examples of contradiction in the deadlift instruction from coaches all more reputable, more accomplished than me.

If you don’t want to watch the videos, here’s the conclusion:

Within a certain framework (again, SOME aspects ARE universal) there is some measure of latitude or variation that is not only acceptable, but for your circumstances may indeed be preferable to the textbook definition.  It is worth exploring all options and seeing which works best:  “Best” being, gets you the best numbers be it weight, time or reps, without provoking injury.


This is Ben Bergeron, coach of both the male and female CrossFit Games winners in 2016, coaching the deadlift exactly like I do on the way up, but departing from my sequence on the way down.

Below is Louie Simmons, the man behind the widely respected Westside Barbell, coaching the deadlift exactly the opposite of what I ask for in terms of Back first vs Knee Extension first.

This is Mark Rippetoe coaching a deadlift mostly like I coach it, using some cues I use and using some cues I dont.






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