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Wednesday Details and Is This a 35 or a 45lb Barbell


Wednesday Details and Is This a 35 or a 45lb Barbell

4 rounds for time:
15 power cleans
12 back squats
9 pull-ups
Hillary logs 290 in 13.2 on her way to contributing to the Roots team score.  Photo by Shayna Larsen.

Hillary logs 290 in 13.2 on her way to contributing to the Roots team score. Photo by Shayna Larsen.

A quick teaser for WEDNESDAY: “Don’t forget to tune in to on Wednesday, March 20 at 5 p.m., PT for the live announcement of Open Workout 13.3. This week, Kristan Clever will face Talayna Fortunato at CrossFit Roots in Boulder, Colo. It’s a match you won’t want to miss. Clever won the 2010 Games and has been one of the most dominant female athletes in the history of the sport. She’s currently 9th in the worldwide Open, while Fortunato is 145th. Clever will be seeking revenge after losing the podium in the final seconds of Fran, and Fortunato is out to prove last year’s third-place finish was no fluke.” (Source:

Is This a 35 or a 45lb Barbell?

Many days as a coach, I am asked questions such as, “is this a 35 or 45 pound barbell?”, “is this a 20″ or a 24″ box?”, or “which is the front squat?” Often times athletes look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them, “think about it for a minute and then ask me again if you really can’t figure it out” or “ask a classmate.”

I get it, many of you probably think that I am a complete and utter asshole for not telling you the answer, but there is reason for my response far beyond what you initially might think!

I want more for each of you and what you get out of your fitness program. Hell, YOU want more out of this program and we want to help you get there. Could you imagine trying to master a basic level of baking and never learning how to turn on the oven? No way. In a similar manner, you will be hard pressed to master a basic level of CrossFit without knowing the movements and exercises that make up our beloved CrossFit. That requires a baseline level of knowledge about the equipment and movements we employ on a daily basis.

Knowing your equipment is the first step in getting the most out of this program. It creates a baseline level of understanding and respect for the program of which you are involved. Whatever you want out of this fitness program – health, longevity, performance, fitness, to look good naked – it will come quicker to the individual who knows the basics of the program. It also enables you to have a safety check for excessive loading or potentially unsafe situations.

Knowing the movements is the second step. If you do not have a mental image and recall of the movements involved you can not in any way expect to get the most out of skill/drill sessions and you certainly can’t expect to perform them well and with intensity during a workout.

Knowing your equipment and the movements will undoubtably increase your potential.

Remember this old saying, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” Bingo! That’s what we’re doing here.

If you’re thinking, “but Nicole, it’s just my workout, I don’t really care that much about what I’m doing, I know I’m getting fit. Can’t you just give me the answers.” No, we can’t, and you don’t really want us to if it doesn’t help you get where you want to be. There are so many places this knowledge can help you – from performance, to enjoyment, to crafting your own workout while on vacation.

Disclaimer: This does not mean you can’t ever ask the coaches for information on which equipment is which or what is a clean? Of course you can, we’re here to teach just as much as we are to coach; however, if you ask me which is the 20″ box and you’ve been here for more than 6 months, don’t be surprised if we tell you to go figure it out for yourself:).

24 Responses

  1. Thank you for this post! I know I can come off as a smart-ass in general. It’s something I’m working on, believe it or not, but Nicole is right. If we always just tell you answers to questions that you are completely capable of answering on your own, we would be doing you a disservice in CF and life for that matter.
    We’re not judging you but simply challenging you to not be lazy and take a few extra seconds to figure it out on your own. It’s no coincidence that many of the same athletes that ask questions such as the one mentioned are the same ones that tell me they don’t cook because they don’t know how. Connection? I think so. The reaches of such attitudes are much broader than you may think. The worst that can happen is you grab the wrong barbell and end up doing the wod with 10# more than you thought and get stronger. That’s not so bad.

  2. Ben O'Brien

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Hilarious! What you’re describing can also be called parenting! As coaches you have 200 children. By the way…….I hope we’re not having peas for dinner and can I have desert?

  3. Fair enough, Nicole. Fair enough. BUT if I come into the box and see “Pood” written anywhere on the whiteboard, my eyes will cross, and I will walk zombie-like up to you and say “which color/weight is that!?” Because no one in the m*&%$#$%ing world know’s what a Pood is aside from some East German gymnast. (I don’t care that East Germany isn’t a country anymore!).

    1. Sarah

      Speaking of the kettlebells… Nicole, you should do a post that lists our kettlebell colors and their corresponding weights. I can’t be the only one who has trouble remembering this (especially since the kettlebell color codes aren’t standardized, so you can’t just google this before the WOD…)

  4. Mango

    I am not kidding when I say I used to look up the work out on the website and then google the movements on the main site so that I could have a basic understanding of what they were before coming to class. I had no idea what a power clean was compared to a snatch, versus a push jerk etc. And then I still had questions…. sorry coaches!

    1. But I can imagine that your questions were so much more complex than “is this a 20″ box?” . . . doing the homework ahead of time is a great idea, but I’m afraid if I preview the workout, I won’t show up to the workout!!:P

  5. collin

    I’m glad you posted this, because it helps explain where you’re coming from. But I hope you realize that you’re not teaching people how to fish. You’re telling them “go figure out how to fish”. Which is totally different. Better in some ways, because they might learn how to figure things out for themselves. But not as friendly or as immediately helpful.

    1. collin

      Maybe it’s a revised adage for the new millenium – If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you want to feed him for a lifetime, tell him to google it.

    2. Sorry Collin but I disagree. Telling an athlete to go learn how to snatch would be telling them to go learn how to fish. Telling an athlete to grab a bar is telling them to go grab a pole.

      1. collin

        I totally agree. But the attitude presented by this post is NOT “grab a bar and I’ll show you”. I would love it if that were true.

    3. Hey Collin, I’m not sure I agree with this either. We never start from a place of “go figure it out for yourself.” We do teach initially – how to tell a 35 from a 45, a 20 from a 24, etc. It’s answering those questions after a person has been an athlete for more than 6 months when, well, there’s not much learning going on.

  6. bradical

    I hear ya, but since we’re keeping it real, I gotta say when someone asks a silly question it’s most likely because no one ever slowed down to explicitly explain the answer. I remember trying to piece the crossfit lingo together like a puzzle when I first started. Those first months are very intense…physically and mentally. Not everything the coaches say sticks the first time, but not everything is taught at the level folks are at either. Its a two-way street.
    I think “surprise” creates the opportunity for teaching and learning. When members are surprised by what the coaches say, they should ask a question. When coaches are surprised by the silly questions members ask, they shouldn’t waste the opportunity to slow down and get it right…whether it’s deadlift form, box height, or russian units for wieght. My $0.02.

  7. Melanie

    The coaches spend a lot more of their time/life thinking about all things CrossFit than most people. There are times when I’m freaking out about the workout and I ask, what I now know is, a stupid question. And other times when I have to ask for something to be repeated because I’m in my head thinking about what we’re about to do and miss an important direction/cue. It’s not because somewhere in my brain I don’t know the answer or I’m not listening. It’s because my brain is overloaded by a bunch of other things, so getting the “easy” answer in that moment can actually be super helpful to me having a better workout and building confidence in whatever it is that day. The effective bitchslap upside the head in the moment surely doesn’t help. From the two coach posts in this thread, it reads like the athletes only have one reason for asking silly questions. If that were the only reason, then i could see the perspective and reasoning behind that. If it’s not – then the coach has lost an opportunity to help build confidence and support. Maybe a better response would be “why are you asking me?” or “how can I help you better remember this?” While warranted, your post assumes a lot. +1 on Ben’s comment re: parenting

  8. wod 1.0 harder than u think...

    Most of the equipment in the gym has a label on it, except for the boxes and the barbells, and these are the two pieces being discussed,(Hmmmmmm….) how about we label the boxes, I am pretty sure most of us could read two numbers on a box ? I’ll even bring a stencil to paint the numbers on nicely, then we just have to worry about bar bells…Are boxes in Europe metric ?

  9. Kevin

    Noting that you are hosting the 13.3 Open and will most likely have increased internet traffic,
    I wonder how many members you will lose or gain from a post like this.

  10. Sandy

    Very well said….as this experience was so fantastic….humbling, and continuously evolving…great article.