Your spine and head are where your central nervous system is located.  Proper positioning allows for proper protection of the nervous system, proper transmittal of nerve signals into muscles, and it creates a solid ‘chassis’ from which you can generate the most amount of power and force.  This leads to moving better, playing better, and crushing your competition….

Creating Tension

Dr. Kelly Starrett, author of Becoming a Supple Leopard and total guru of all things fitness, gives three reasons for bracing your spine: 1) bracing your spine eliminates the possibility of a central nervous system injury – the kind of injury that will absolutely sideline you for a long time, 2) crappy spine positioning will rob you of positional flexibility in the prime movers which could further hurt your position, and 3) a disorganized spine will lead to mechanical compromises (bad) up and downstream in joints such as the shoulders, hips, and knees.

A lot of us don’t think in this fashion.  Our knee hurts, so we address the knee.  I like to think we have made CrossFit Hard more sophisticated than that and have you instead think up and downstream of the problem area.  But are you thinking all the way up to the spine? You know that we always talk about biasing into a strong, safe position before performing any movement.  And the beauty of the strongest position is that it is always the safest position as well – always!

So let me walk you through the four steps of the bracing sequence that you should be going through EVERYTIME before taking that bar out of the rack.  I know some of you still wait until you have walked that bar out a couple steps before thinking about getting tight, but this is impossible.  No one can reclaim a tight, braced position with 300lbs on their back; instead, you must get in to position first and then unrack the bar.

Proper brace sequencing starts with the pelvis and the ribcage.  Think about both of them as buckets…. buckets that are completely filled to the top with water.  The less you spill your water, the more neutral your spine will be.

Step 1:  Squeeze your butt as hard as you can.  Contracting the glutes places the pelvis in a neutral position. With your feet straight, you should feel a lot of torque through the legs, like you’re screwing your feet into the ground.

Step 2:  Pull your ribcage down.  Think about the water-filled bucket analogy.

Step 3: Get your belly tight.  This locks in the neutral position of the pelvis and the ribcage.  You do this by contracting your abdominal muscles, giving it about 20% of tension.

Step 4: Set your head in a neutral position and screw your shoulders back and down.  This addresses the top half of the central nervous system.  Tuck your chin back, don’t let it stick out forward.  Correct the neck and get the shoulders in a good position.

Congratulations!  You are now in a braced spine position!  This is the position you will need to be in to perform almost every movement at CrossFit Hard.

This sequence is the framework from which all movement should be built upon.  Improper bracing or positioning can create a host of other problems.  Learn the basics first and then move on to the complex.

Now you have a reproducible, all-encompassing strategy to set up for almost every movement we perform at CrossFit Hard.  Just like working on posture throughout the day, working on setting up like this takes a lot of effort in the beginning.  But if you want more strength, more power, more everything, this needs to be etched in your mind.  Make this a habit as strong as brushing your teeth (and flossing, I hope).  This will be even harder if you have ingrained poor movement patterns from previous training or everyday life.  Put some mental and physical sweat into making this your default position!

Go forth and brace

Coach G



Doing anything fun this weekend?

200 M Run
3 Rds
10 Empty BB Press
10 KB Swings
10 Leg swings (each leg)

Walking Lunges  

Every 2 minutes, for 10 minutes (5 sets):
20-22 Walking Lunges (32/24 kg KBs in each hand)

Metcon (Time)

For Time:
500M Row
Five rounds of:
15 Wall Ball Shots
10 Toes to Bar
5 Burpees

Cut Season Cash Out

100 Russian twists with Wallball - touch the floor both sides

Out of Town WOD




CrossFit Journal: The Performance-Based Lifestyle Resource