Removing the Ceiling

Each Friday evening, the coaches and coaches-in-training meet to practice, debate, and discuss the elements and ideas that make up our training. It’s these meetings and a specific talk that I listened to Kelly Starrett, founder of San Francisco CrossFit and author of the Supple Leopard, give recently that has put our training under a new microscope.


The ‘Fastest Male’ and the 3rd ‘Most Improved’ show some love – “Grace” Challenge 2013

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We program some of the details of our training, like load and rep ranges, in part, on the hypothetical performance of high level athletes. These workouts, then, create a ceiling from which we begin to scale under for less advanced athletes. This strategy works great. It maintains the logic that our training ought to be universally scalable, and it yields a powerful fitness adaptation for vitally anyone and everyone.

However, to really test our premises, we ought to, at least in theory, be able to scale up our training as much as we can scale it down. If our training is a closed loop model and we cannot see beyond the strict pull up, for example, then we have a faulty foundation. Of course, virtually anyone can see ways in which we can scale down a strict pull up. We can use banded assistance or even ring rows, but does the spectrum of scale move up as easily as it moves down? At least, that’s the question I’d like to ask.

Luckily for all of you, we are asking these tough questions. Introducing the L-pull up, a weighted pull up, etc leave us with options that remove the ceiling on the pull, for example. I’d like to argue that all of our training is this robust, and it’s worth mentioning that we are constantly questioning our methods to yield the best fitness possible.

Can you think of any other opportunities to “remove the ceiling” on some of the movements that you see around the gym? You’ll notice that the bodyweight movements may be more difficult to scale up than movements with load.


Logan Gelbrich




11/14/13 WOD

Complete 2 rounds for time of:
15 KB Swings (53/35)
15’ Rack Lunge
15 KB Swings
15’ Rack Lunge
15 KB Swings
15’ Rack Lunge
400m Run