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My Experience Attending the CFL1 Certificate Course

*Disclaimer: this blog post is a high-level overview of my personal experience. No details about the format and content of this course will be disclosed.*

Attending the CFL1 Certificate Course

At just about four years into my CrossFit journey: I finally bit the bullet and went for my CFL1. To those who don’t know what that means, it stands for CrossFit Level One, and it’s a certificate course that provides introductory education on the fundamental principles and movements of CrossFit.

So, why four years in did I decide to pursue it? It’s something I’d thought about more than once as I started to grow as a CrossFit athlete. For one, I loved the discipline and confidence I gained through CrossFit and wanted to share that experience with others.

Then, once I became an NASM personal trainer, I knew I would have to take CEU’s (i.e. continue my education) to keep my certification active. Since all my NASM studying occurred at home, on the internet/with a book, I wanted my next endeavor to be an in-person seminar, like this.

As I started to look into the certification further, I saw that the CFL1 course was being offered in Charlotte shortly after my move. Something that had deterred me previously was the cost: not only is the course itself $1000, but it’s typically offered in bigger cities (aka, not Syracuse) so I would’ve incurred travel expenses on top of it. (Sometimes it’s really hard to justify investing in yourself, but that’s a topic for another day.) With the course coming to my city, it would significantly reduce the cost, and I was out of excuses. It was time to dive in!

Here are my biggest takeaways from the weekend I spent at the CFL1 course:

  1. It’s humbling. I always refer to CrossFit as humbling because there’s so much going on that it’s impossible to be good at everything. But this course was another level of humbling. Four years in, I’ve made a ton of improvements. I’ve “won” a lot of workouts in the gym. I’ve gone to non-CrossFit gyms and been complimented by coaches, telling me that I move well and they can tell I’m an athlete. But in this course, I was surrounded by CrossFit experts, critiquing my movements and efficiency and challenging me on things I thought I knew so well. I received an overwhelming amount of critical feedback on the simplest movement, the move that most of CrossFit is built upon: the air squat. And it wasn’t just me: all 50 athletes in the room with their own levels of CrossFit experience received a wealth of critical feedback. Which brings me to the other reason this experience was so humbling: the caliber of the other athletes also participating in the course. In most social circles, if you do CrossFit, you are (among) the fittest of your friend group. People at work refer to you as the fit one. You stand out for your love and pursuit of fitness. Not in this room: you’re now the norm, one of many. In a way, it’s a super cool experience. Think of the last time you attended an event and not one person was overweight. I know it’s not the case at most sporting events, concerts, fairs or festivals. In a room of other CrossFitters, your “edge” is gone!
  2. I’m better for it. This was one of those experiences that was pretty far outside of my comfort zone. I knew that by attending, I would be opening myself up to criticism and to different ways of thinking, which is a position I don’t often put myself in. I know that putting myself out there like that and opening myself up to that experience has already made me better as a person and as a coach. It reminded me that I can’t be afraid of revealing that I’m not perfect, and that the only way to improve is to do things like this!
  3. I learned a lot about coaching fitness that I didn’t already know. Being in person with lots of other coaches and athletes exposed me to so many different ways to coach someone. I learned helpful new verbal cues and I also learned a ton about tactical cues. I’ve never used tactical cues when coaching, and I’ve very rarely been coached with tactical cues, but we used them a ton this weekend. I realized just how much more effective they are for me to learn. In the middle of a workout, my brain shuts off and goes into “just get it done” mode, so when someone tells me verbally to change something I’m doing, I don’t always have the awareness to correct. My brain isn’t always aware of where my body is in space. Based on what I saw this weekend, I think a lot of people have a similar experience when they’re pushing hard in a workout, so I’m excited to have a better way to help people moving forward!

So where am I going from here? I hope to use this experience to improve as a coach and as an athlete. I plan to take what I’ve learned about myself (just how much my weight ends up in my toes/midfoot when I move) to improve my own form and grow as an athlete. And I plan to use the techniques, methodology, and cueing I learned this weekend to coach others into their fittest selves. Who’s with me?!

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My Podcasting Debut: Listen to My First Interview

I love listening to podcasts. On my commute, on my lunchtime walk, as I’m getting ready in the morning.. virtually any time that I can, I’ve got my AirPods in and a podcast on. I feel like I am always learning something new or expanding my perspective. Some of my favorites include Mind Pump, Girls Gone WOD, She Thrives, Meathead Hippie, The Model Health Show and PaleOMG Uncensored. It should come as no surprise that literally all of these have to do with improving your health/fitness and/or lifestyle. That’s the content I gravitate toward (although I do try to expand into other avenues from time to time so I would love some recommendations in the comments or my DMs!).

I recently had the very exciting opportunity to step into the other side of podcasting by being a guest on the very first episode of the Colin Cerniglia Podcast! If that name looks familiar to you, it’s because he’s my husband ;). He owns a full-service coaching, training and consulting firm, called Talent 409, that helps athletes discover their talent altitude. Talent 409 hosts a number of paid events (seminars, workshops, etc.) but also has some great free content, like the Colin Cerniglia Podcast, to get you started on your journey to becoming a dynamic leader.

You can hear my interview below, where we cover things like: my athletic journey, the impact of sports and athletics in my life, and my thoughts on leadership. I have found a lot of parallels between sports and the workplace which I’d love to hear your thoughts about! Give it a listen here and let me know what you think!

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2017 Holiday Gift Guide: 7 Ideas for the Crossfit Athlete on Your List

Crossfit is a commitment, and most athletes who show up consistently are looking to improve and perform at their best. Get them a gift that helps them reach those goals. This roundup will help the crossfitter on your list tackle any WOD!

Gift Guide

  1. Lifters. Hands down, lifters were the best investment I have made since starting Crossfit. If you’re looking to hit new PR’s, stability and ROM are essential. Getting below parallel on a squat becomes much easier when your feet are locked in place.
  2. Grips. Crossfit athletes are known for their calloused (and often ripped) hands. Lifting and rig work (pull-ups, etc.) take less of a toll with the added protection grips provide.
  3. Jumprope. Double-unders are a crossfit staple, but they require a lot of practice to become proficient. Gift your crossfitter their own rope to practice at home. Bonus: unlike most gym equipment, a jumprope won’t break the bank or take up a lot of space.
  4. Foam Roller. Recovery is an important part of the training process, especially for someone who likes to go more than 3x/week. Help them ease sore muscles with a heavy-duty foam roller.

Stocking Stuffers:

  1. BCAA’s. Drinking BCAA’s during/after a workout is a great recovery tool. They help reduce muscle soreness and promote muscle building. This kind tastes so good I look forward to drinking it after my workouts.
  2. Hand salve. Sometimes even grips can’t stop hands from ripping if there’s a high volume workout. This salve will speed up the healing process and have the athlete on your list back in the gym ASAP!
  3. Wrist Straps. Overhead lifts put a lot of stress on your wrists. Wrist straps can provide extra stability (and may even help with a new PR!).
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Sweaty Sunday Workout

Sundays call for sweating! And due to the endless rain in Syracuse, I took my workout to the gym in my apartment complex.

This 45-minute circuit mixes cardio with total-body strength moves.  Each move listed has a tutorial below to help guide you. Give it a try and leave me your thoughts in the comments!

Sweaty Sunday (1)

Renegade Rows with Pushup

Bicep Curls

Shoulder Press

Single Leg Deadlifts

Alternating Front Rack Lunges

Suitcase-hold Squats

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Establishing a Morning Routine

I recently made the switch from listening to the radio to listening to a podcast whenever I’m in my car. I’ve been flying through The Model Health Show on iTunes, and I’m amazed at how much time I was spending mindlessly listening to music I didn’t love when I could’ve been learning and motivating myself. I feel like I just discovered a huge life hack and I’m HOOKED on this habit! I think I’ll dabble into audiobooks soon too..

Anyway, one of the episodes of The Model Health Show I just listened to was about establishing a morning routine (listen here). I’ve always considered myself a morning person since I have to start my day with a workout, but this got me thinking. I wake up at 6:15 every (week)day, but what am I really doing in that 45 minutes before my crossfit class starts?

I make my coffee, pack everything for work, go to the bathroom, drink some water.. but I’m not really accomplishing anything. Those 45 minutes are valuable time that I could spend setting myself up for true success, every day.

Why should you establish a morning routine?

You know the saying “you run the day or the day runs you”? Knowing how your morning will look and going about it with purpose sets you up to run the day. Starting the day by checking your phone and replying to texts, emails, social, etc sets you up to run on someone else’s time, needs and desires. How can you accomplish your goals and be your best self without identifying your purpose for the day and executing on it?

Something else that really spoke to me was the part of the podcast that outlined the stress of being “on time”. I’m regularly “on time” for crossfit – meaning I’m rushing out the door, speeding down the highway, and running into the gym in my socks because I haven’t been able to change into my sneakers yet and can do so as the warmup is announced. That’s a highly stressful way to start my morning. After hearing this and acknowledging how it affected my own life, I knew I wanted to make a change.

Establish A Morning Routine (1)

What does my morning routine look like now?

Since I made this conscious shift, I started waking up a few minutes earlier and my morning now looks like this:

  • brew coffee
  • 5-minute meditation in the legs up the wall yoga pose
  • drink coffee while writing a gratitude journal (3 things I’m grateful for) and today’s purpose
  • drink at least 2 glasses of water
  • change into my gym clothes
  • gather my work bag, gym bag, and lunch bag (all packed the night before)
  • leave 5 minutes earlier than I used to so I am early instead of on-time
  • listen to a podcast on my drive to the gym

I find the gratitude journal and meditation to be so powerful when it comes to starting my day on the right foot. I feel more positive and in control with those simple additions.

One thing you may notice is missing from this list is breakfast. Since I workout at 7, I don’t have much time for digestion pre-workout. Coffee and water are necessary, but my high-protein breakfast has to wait until my workout is done.

This routine may shift as I figure out what I like and don’t like. I’d like to work in more goal setting, planning, and stretching down the road.

How do you go about establishing your own morning routine?

Ask yourself: What do your mornings look like now? What are you hoping to accomplish and get out of each day? There are so many different options for different people, but a simple place to start that is applicable to everyone is: drink more water. Even though you’re laying in bed for hours at night, your brain and body are doing so much and using water to do it. Start by replenishing your water stores for an immediate improvement in your day!

A quick Google search will also return plenty of articles where entrepreneurs and high-power CEO’s share their morning routines if you’re looking for additional inspiration!

Do you already have a morning routine that you love? Leave your feedback in the comments!

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Thoughts On Crossfit and Working Hard

About a month ago, I posted recaps of the Crossfit Open workouts I participated in. A few things happened during my first open journey – one of them being that I learned a lot about myself. Now that I’ve had some time to digest what I’ve learned, I’m ready to document it and use it moving forward.

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Here’s what happened when I did the Crossfit Open:

  1. I fell more in love with the sport. I don’t have games ambitions (or even regionals ambitions for that matter) – but I do have more goals I want to explore when it comes to Crossfit. I’ve stopped viewing it as just my morning sweat session – I’d like it to be more than that, and I think it is now. It’s not just a workout: it’s a sport; where I will be competing with myself every time I do it.
  2. I learned the difference between doing something just to get it over with, and doing something that I’m trying my best at and pushing myself through. I think this hit me truly in 17.4 – I knew I could do each move, but that the workout would require an ambitious mindset for me to perform well. I pushed through large sets of wall ball shots and didn’t give up on the rower (a large mental task in itself). I knew I had pushed my limits when the workout was over and I couldn’t get off the floor/almost threw up. This gave me some perspective – am I really pushing myself hard enough throughout the week? I know I shouldn’t always go 110% or be on the verge of throwing up every day (I need at least a little bit of recovery to be at my best) but was I ever pushing as hard as I should? Since then, I know I’ve improved my mental toughness and stamina. I push beyond what’s comfortable in a workout, even if the moves aren’t my strengths. I perform more reps per set and I move at a faster pace. I go all-out for at least 2 workouts per week. It’s that push that will make me better.
  3. I nailed a move I’d been struggling with previously: the bar muscle-up! Call it open magic (even though it didn’t happen during a workout) or call it focus. Either way, I’m pleased to have accomplished it, and it’s made me less scared of my weaknesses.

What does hard work mean to you in a workout?

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Crossfit Open: 17.3 Recap + Tips

So this post is a little later than usual, meaning the tips won’t really help anyone trying that’s in the open this year. BUT if your gym is like mine, you’ll have this workout thrown into your programming at some point anyway! Might as well know what to expect, right?

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I like to watch the live announcements for the open workouts. I’m the type of person who needs to know ASAP what to expect. So as I sat with my glass of wine watching Dave Castro put the dumbbell down and say the workout would be using barbells, I felt some immediate relief. THANK GOD, A BREAK FROM THE DUMBBELLS (which are such an irregular part of our programming!). Then he announced “snatch ladder” and I knew I was in for a rough one. Make that a SQUAT snatch ladder. Paired with chest-to-bar pull-ups? Absolutely savage. Brutal. Bring it on.

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Let’s start by taking a look at those jumps in weight! My power snatch max is right around 100 lbs. Squat snatches are a whole other ball game, so I knew 95 would be a struggle. Taking a look at the standards, I also saw there were “no free rides”- aka, you can’t power snatch, adjust your feet, and ride the bar down into an overhead squat. You either had to catch the bar below parallel or ride it down smoothly (no pause). Hellooooo, no reps!

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Let’s also note that chest-to-bar pull-ups increase in reps per round. So as you’re getting more and more tired and your muscles are feeling more and more taxed, you need to do more reps. Good thing I won’t be making it too far into this workout, right?

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Taking these movements into account, I went in with a few strategies.

  • I knew shoulder mobility would be important, so I spent a  lot of time rolling out/stretching and opening up my shoulders prior to the workout.
  • I knew grip would be taxed quickly – the rig + snatches are the special sauce for popeye arms.
  • Being in the rig and on the barbell means your hands are likely to rip. Especially because the kip required to successfully execute a chest-to-bar pull-up means your hands are really moving on the bar. I made sure to chalk up and break up my sets of chest-to-bar to avoid this.
  • Knowing that the weight was going to get too heavy too quick, I made it a point to fly through the reps at 65 lbs so I would have plenty of time to try to get as many 95 lb snatches as possible (and get the best possible tiebreak time at 65 lbs).

So how did it go? I made it successfully through the 65 lb round with few no-reps (squat snatching is awkward. I got better as I went along.) The chest-to-bar pull-ups presented no issues for me.

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Then I got to the 95 lb snatches. There were a lot of deadlifts, high pulls, and no-reps among my 4 successful reps. I power snatched the bar and got stuck/paused on the way down too many times which was wasted time and wasted effort. The last 4 minutes of this 8-minute workout were a bit frustrating and slow for me, but again, I know something I need to work on moving forward: squat snatches!

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I also learned just how big of a difference lifting shoes make. I borrowed a pair from a friend for this workout and they were a game-changer for stability. I went home and immediately ordered a pair!

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All in all, I left this workout with a sense of purpose. I know my goals moving forward. Is a 135 lb squat snatch one of them? Absolutely not. But I’d like to get to a point where 95 lbs is easy. Stay tuned!

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Crossfit Open: 17.2 Recap + Tips

It’s week two of the crossfit open (you can read about week one here). On Thursday, I anxiously watched the live announcement of the workout. I started off feeling pretty good about the movements. Weighted lunges? Hell yeah! Toes to bar? GREAT, I’ve become really efficient at those! Dumbbell power cleans? Not sure what’s with all the dumbbells this year, but yeah, those are fine. Then Castro announced the move I’ve been dreading since I decided to sign up for the open: bar muscle ups.

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I was pretty discouraged to hear it even though I knew it was coming. In my years of crossfit, I’ve probably spent a collected total of three hours working on muscle ups (i.e. not much time at all). So it’s no surprise that I’ve never successfully performed one, and I’m very unprepared for the 16+ that this workout is calling for.

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When you can’t perform a movement, you have two options: scale it or fail out. In crossfit workouts, you actually score better for getting through the workout up until the muscle up portion than you would for scaling the workout and smoking everyone else competing. Also, there’s always hope that with the competitive atmosphere, you’ll be able to do things you’ve never been able to before. I knew I was strong enough to do a muscle up and just needed to get my form down, so this was the hope I went with.

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I also went into the workout planning for the worst. If I wasn’t going to get any muscle ups, I better get a great time for the movements leading up to them.

The workout started off great: I finished my third round of lunges right around the 5 minute mark. This left me with 7 minutes to attempt a bar muscle up. I knew I would need a solid break before I made my first attempt. Those movements crushed my forearms and had me breathing pretty heavily – no need to waste any energy trying a muscle up when I knew I was too tired and would fail.

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So after about a minute passed, I made my first muscle up attempt. Fail. Breathe. Second attempt. Fail. Breathe.

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I filled the last 7 minutes of the workout with failed muscle up attempts and rest. I was stringing together chest to bar pull ups like a boss, and I had a couple of pulls where I was close to getting over – but I fell short every. single. time. Even with the cheers and the coaching, I just wasn’t ready. At least I know what I need to work on moving forward! And who knows.. maybe I’ll try again before I submit my score on Monday 😉

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As for my 17.2 tips:

  1. Be efficient with how you hold your dumbbells on the lunges. This workout taxes your grip – don’t make it worse by relying heavily on your forearms during the lunge portion. Make sure the dumbbells are at least somewhat resting on your shoulders to help take the load off your arms.
  2. Only touch the front head of each dumbbell to the ground between cleans.
  3. If you’re going to rest on your cleans, rest around rep 6 or 7. DO NOT drop the dumbbells after your 8th rep. Move right into your lunges to avoid having to add in an extra clean to get the dumbbells into the front rack position.
  4. Try not to break at all during the lunges. You’ll get tired re-cleaning the dumbbells and you have to start again from behind the last line you passed. These are heavy lunges, use your momentum to keep you going.

Did you do 17.2? How did you do? What are your tips?

 

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March Goals

You know what they say about March weather: coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb? Well, in addition to the weather portion, March has come in like a lion for my personal life – stomach bug, wedding planning meetings, open prep. So I’m a little late with this post! But I’m excited about everything on this list and will be using this blog (in addition to my fiance and the goals outline hanging on my wall) to hold me accountable.

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So without further adieu, here are my March goals:

  1. Grow my @healthydoseoflife Instagram to 450 followers. My action plan is to post at least twice a day, follow 100 people per week, and take the time to comment on other peoples posts and connect with them rather than just liking their pictures and moving on. I really enjoy Instagram as a platform to connect with other like-minded people, so this is where I’ll focus a lot of my energy this month.
  2. Break my record for “most viewed post” on the blog. So far, my most popular post has been my 17.1 recap. This post even ranked in search engines for some terms about crossfit open tips which brought people to my site – a first for my blog. I think I’ll need to recap all of my open workouts to break this record!
  3. Run 75 miles. This is always a tough one to complete on top of crossfit. My runs outside aren’t very long (especially when the temp drops below 30) and the treadmill doesn’t keep me occupied for more than 30 minutes. I’ll also count the few elliptical miles I accumulate each month when the only way I feel like going to the gym is if I can read during my workout. So far I’m only 5 miles in and need to pick it up!
  4. Perform a muscle up. This goal has eluded me since I started crossfit. I tried for 7 minutes to get my first bar muscle up last night during 17.2 and failed, but got really close. I know I’m strong enough but my form needs work and I need to believe it will happen. The time is now!
  5. Read 1 book for purpose rather than pleasure. I love to read fantasy. My fiance loves to read sports biographies and motivational books. The more I see him take notes and learn from the books he reads, the more it makes me want to try it myself. So this month I took out a library loan for “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. It is SO good, I can’t put it down. I can’t wait to start my own happiness project after reading it – not because I am unhappy, but because I could be happier and more appreciative of what I have right in front of me. This goal is as good as achieved already.

What goals are you focused on? How do you keep yourself accountable?

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Crossfit Open: 17.1 Recap + Tips

My crossfit journey started in July 2014. Since then I’ve completed countless wods, but not many serious competitions. This year I decided to enter the open.

The crossfit open is a 5-week, 5-workout competition that crossfit athletes all over the world can enter. The workouts are announced on Thursdays and athletes have until Monday to submit their scores. Workouts are completed in the presence of a certified judge who ensures you follow the rules (and in my case, counted my reps out loud for me).

17.1, the first workout of the series, was a couplet: single arm snatches and burpee box jump-overs:

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In my years of being a crossfit athlete, I’ve done countless wods. I start most days doing a wod before going to work. None of them felt like this: heart racing, dry mouth, nerves out of control. I started off strong – 10 snatches and 15 burpee box jumps? No problem. The snatches were unbroken and I jumped right from my burpees onto the box, no step in between.

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Follow it up with 20 snatches and 15 more burpee box jumps? You got it. This isn’t so bad, right?17-1-1

Then came the round of 30 snatches. My back was tightening up, my throat was on fire. I was really starting to feel it – which was evident by the amount of times I dropped the dumbbell, and the step I started taking between the burpee and box jump. This is where my time really started to slide.

I caught myself struggling to get full extension on the snatches and made a conscious effort to catch the dumbbell standing straight up. There were also a few times my non-lifting arm started to rest on my leg during the snatches, which would’ve been a “no-rep”. I felt it happening mid-rep and dropped the dumbbell completely so as not to waste any more time/work. 17-1-2

I was more than 18 minutes in when I started my last 15 burpee box jump-overs. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it under the 20-minute time cap – and you can see from the faces in the picture that the spectators were skeptical too (the ones not looking at me are looking at the clock).

One of my coaches saw I was fading and put on my favorite song (Project T) while one of my other coaches cheered like crazy beside me. I ended up finishing with 4 seconds to spare: 19:56. The energy in the room around me played a huge part in helping me to the finish. I struggled hard and ultimately was hoping for a better time, but I’m happy that I finished. I feel accomplished and ready for the next workout!

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So what are my words of advice for those who haven’t done 17.1 yet?

  1. HYDRATE. This is taxing cardio, you’re going to need all the water you can get leading up to (and following) this wod.
  2. Keep your shoulders above your hips when you bend down on the snatches. It’ll save your lower back in the long run.
  3. Start off taking the burpee box jump-overs slower than you think you should. It’s easy to burn out on them when you’re moving quickly.
  4. Turn mid-air when getting off the box and fall right to the ground into your burpee. Don’t waste time stepping around/setting up between each rep.
  5. Keep a number of snatches to hit unbroken in your head. This was a miss for me – I should’ve set the goal of doing 10 unbroken each round. I didn’t keep this in mind and dropped the dumbbell more times than I should’ve, wasting a lot of time.
  6. Don’t stand to full extension on the box. The completion of the movement is getting OVER the box to the other side. Standing up on the box is unneccessary and will slow you down.

Did you do 17.1? How’d you do? What advice do you have?