Brian PCF's Blog

Mike Crisci – The Burgener Warmup – And a 30 lbs Snatch PR

I was talking to Mike C. the other day at the gym and he mentioned off hand that he had hit a 30 lbs Squat Snatch PR. Now Mike is already a pretty strong guy and pretty coordinated, so hearing that I’ve got to ask as a coach: How’d he do that?

This is how the converation went:

Mike C.: So Brian, I hit a 30 lbs snatch PR the other day.
Brian PCF: You did what!?!?!!?
Mike C.: 30 lbs Snatch PR
Brian PCF: HOW???
Mike C.: I did the Burgener Warmup.
Brian PCF: AND???
Mike C.: That’s it.
Brian PCF: [looks dumbfounded]

I was so stupified by this that I didn’t even ask him what his old and new numbers were. I found out later that he went from 155 lbs to 185 lbs. What’s amazing about this is that he didn’t do any snatch work in between these two sessions – HE JUST WORKED HARD ON THE BURGENER WARMUP FOR A FEW MINUTES BEFORE HIS PR LIFT!

Here’s how he described it:

1) I technically didn’t start doing it [Burgener Warmup] until a squat snatch day with, Chad and Allison, probably 3-4 weekends ago. Of course, I have done it before but always kind of just went through the motions as I only really used the PVC for SPT’s [Shoulder Pass Throughs].

2) I literally hit that snatch 30 lb PR that Sunday, the first day I really went through the Burgener with a sense of purpose. Chad just did a really nice job that day going through the warmup and we spent about 10 minutes on it. For whatever reason, I really focused on it that day. Snatch and OHS [Overhead Squat] were still my 2 weakest lifts at that point so I really wanted to improve on them. I don’t recall the last time I did 1RM OHS before yesterday and what I got but I honestly don’t think i got more than 165-175. There was a day I came during open gym, you were there, and I worked on OHS but did a half-ass warmup with the Burgener before I started. I think I ended at 165 that day. I also believe this was before that weekend class with Chad. That was probably about 5-6 weeks ago. Yesterday I did 225 [on OHS] and felt like I had something left. I attribute that to the Burgener Warmup as well. There was also a day you corrected my positioning when I was doing OHS with PVC pipe. No one had corrected that before so I had been warming up that way since I started, thinking I was positioned correctly. If you recall, my arms were extended way too far back.

3) Since it wasn’t that long ago and I took some time off for my back and vacation I really still hadn’t been incorporating it other than maybe a couple more times. However, after yesterday’s results I am convinced that one squat snatch day, and your correction of my arm position are the reason I made monster gains. So with that in mind, I will be doing it every time I come into the box.

I think the most relevant thing is for anyone serious about CF to do everything with a purpose in mind. Like I said, I did the Burgener plenty of times just going through the motions and it of course resulted in nothing. There is no way it is just coincidental that the one day I really focus on the Burgener Warmup my squat snatch goes up 30lbs. I had a good strength base coming into Crossfit but, in my opinion, the snatch and OHS are not two lifts you can just muscle your way through with crappy form, like you may be able to a regular squat. A good analogy you can relate to would be to compare to a pitcher that throws bullpen sessions in-between starts. He doesn’t go out there and just play catch with his catcher. He throws to particular spots and does not go away from that spot until he has thrown a perfect strike to that location. If he just went out there and played catch he obviously will not make any gains.

So two things I want to just mention are about shoulder position and about working with a focus.

First, the shoulder position is a very simple issue that we see frequently with athletes. It usually consists of one or both of the following flaws:

Hands too far back, looking for strain in the chest and shoulders

Shoulders too far forward, looking for strain in the lats

Combination of both

Lastly, where everything should be at: bar over the middle of the foot, weight in the heels, and shoulders BACK and up.

I can’t stress enough this point of putting the shoulders back and then up. The shoulder is a delicate thing.

Mike had the combo issue of shoulders forward and up with hands back too far. I just used a very simple tactile cue of grabbing his shoulders, moving them down and back. I then placed my fingers at the top of his thoracic and said “Pinch here.” While I was doing this, I was moving the PVC into position directly over his center of mass, which would have been somewhere right around the middle of his foot.

The second point about focus is HUGE!

If you are not consciously trying to find the right “groove” as an athlete during these movements, especially skill sessions and warmups, you are most certainly going to be out of the groove the second we add load or intensity.

It’s just an example of what (guess who) Coach Burgener says all the time: “Only perfect practice makes perfect.”

For more info, check out Coach B’s own video of the Burgener Warmup here (and for CFJ Subscribers here). For more in depth info on Olympic Lifting, check out Catalyst Athletics and Coach Burgener’s Website. You can also check out’s excellent library of videos here.


December 2, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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