In Coaching, Powerlifting, Videos

October 06, 2009

Video Article

Dave Tate of Elite FTS is a powerlifting expert with a 930 lb. back squat, 610 lb. bench press and 740 lb. deadlift. Greg Amundson is the original CrossFit firebreather and consistently finishes Fran under three minutes.

To give Tate a taste of what CrossFit is all about, Amundson did Fran at a private seminar held Jan. 9, 2009, at CrossFit San Diego. With Amundson 10 reps into his opening set of thrusters, Tate shifts his position and starts pointing to Greg. During the post-WOD critique, the uncensored powerlifting coach explains what he saw.

“On his first set of thrusters ... his foot was everywhere. Every time he applied force, one rep it was in the front of the foot, one rep was in the back off the foot. One rep was here, one rep was here. There was a shitload of wasted energy being applied because of that.”

Amundson’s second set was better, but he shifted his weight too far forward and took his posterior chain out of the movement. Tate explains that the quads burn out quickly, and that leaning forward also makes for a longer bar path. His recommendation? Sit back and drive off the glutes and hamstrings. The resulting movement will be more efficient and will produce more reps in less time.

11min 25sec

Additional reading: Human Power Output and CrossFit Met-Con Workouts by Tony Leyland, published July 1, 2008.

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21 Comments on “Dave Tate Critiques Greg Amundson's Fran”


wrote …

I like how Greg just walks away after a 3 minute Fran like its no big deal. I manage to eek out a 5 minute Fran and Im on the floor afterwards for half an hour and my week is shot. Haha. Greg you continue to amaze and inspire!


wrote …

I'm wondering if ditching the ball (he doesn't need it anymore) and putting on a pair of flat-soled shoes would help him stay more upright in his thrusters?


wrote …

Save you some time:
When wondering about this a while back I had found this great article on Dave's site. (seems pretty w/f/s)

Word of warning, like the GHD situps if you are not accustomed to this movement, don't bang out a ton of them all psyched that you now know what your GHD situp machine is made for and then expect to walk the next day ;)

Thanks for these articles from Dave Tate. All the insider's stuff is awesome but I'm getting just as much from the outsider's perspective looking in.


wrote …

I love daves candid opinion and he may be right about gregs forward lean but the idea that its due to some weakness a GHD machine is going to fix im not sure i buy. Crossfit makes its money declaring war on our "feeble little legs" ( or posterior chains as the case may be)


wrote …

Sorry, I'm a big fan of Tate, but I don't think physics agrees with his point. More posterior chain recruitment in the Thruster is going to necessarily require more forward lean, which is going to increase the bar path and shoulder rotation in the push-press (and increase the time per rep, also.) I'm not sure how familiar he is with the front squat, but at the rate of descent Amundson shows, there are a thousand tiny adjustments happening on the way down AND the way up. Descending slowly, weight on the heels, isn't realistic. Hell, powerlifters don't even walk out of the racks anymore - they use a monolift. As for the pullups, he's right about the more-vertical motion being a shorter line, but doesn't factor the effect of the kip into the speed of the motion (and the ability to just keep going.)
Obviously, he's making observations on the fly from the position of a guy who's never seen a kipping pullup OR a thruster before, and I'm not criticizing the man himself. So why do I feel like I just stabbed a panda bear?


wrote …

I know the kipping pullup is taught using a nice 'C' shaped swing motion, but perhaps being able to focus your kip more in the vertical plane will improve your time.

Pushing down (or just falling) instead of away from the bar? Look at the recent video of Mikko doing Fran. He is lightning fast 2:10 or 2:20 but his pullups weren't fluid. They were violent and fast.

Kip + Straight Line = fast?

That being said it seems like all the guys who can butterfly go way faster, and that is a round path.


wrote …

Bring's to mind Coach's observations that his best athletes did not have the most perfect form - "92% or so" was how he seemed to judge their technique.

IOW, at what point does the perfect become the enemy of the good? How much special time would it take to make Greg's technique more perfect, and would that time be better spent on other work that would better contribute to his 'fitness' vice his Fran time.

There are and will be CFers of course that don't want fitness as much as a fast Fran - would be surprised if Greg's one of those.

Conversely, as fit as Greg is, perhaps he can afford to spend training time working on perfecting really small deviations in technique.

WRT pullups - I think the physics of stopping a 200 pound body in free fall with the shoulder joints dictates the necessity of some amount of swing. With a few more minutes to observe, I think Tate would agree that the circular motion, though increasing distance travelled, allows a more rapid cycle time from full extension at the bottom of the movement to back up. An athlete dropping 100% vertical from the bar would lose a lot of time and energy stopping him/herself at the bottom to ensure they do not absorb the full amount of that stopping force in the shoulder joint.

I like the Tate stuff a ton - has a lot to offer CF. Paul


wrote …

It was a week ago, wasn't it, that the Mikko 'Fran' was shown? I was struck by how straight up and down he kept his back throughout the thruster.

Two weeks ago, we were doing 'Daniel', with its thrusters, pull ups, and runs, and as I watched the first wave of guys go through it, I saw one of them getting hammered on the thrusters. Every time he hit the bottom position and begin driving back up, his back would bow forward a bit, so suddenly he was fighting two battles at once, getting it back to its proper position on his chest in addition to the front squat itself.
'Sit back; sit up straight," i told myself, which was very helpful when it came my turn.

Greg Amundson's pull ups looked perfectly fine. He's swinging and kipping, but when he engages the pull up itself, his collarbones travel to the bar in a very straight line.


wrote …

Isn't the purpose of CrossFit and Fran in general to push the intensity to the limits, where your form might be suffering a little bit, you are pushing the boundaries with intensity. I can see Dave Tate critiquing on every little point, but in the end who is way more legit of an athlete...Dave or Greg? How about Dave doing a Fran and then telling Greg what he thinks lol. I know this sounds kind of judging or mean, but I would much rather take some advice from lets say Josh Everett, who is 185 pounds and can clean and jerk 340 pounds then from a guy (Dave) or couldn't run a 400 or do a Fran if his life depended on it. If your slowing down to think about every little aspect of your form in a Fran, your time will be slower. On the other side, when practicing thrusters for weight or warming up, you can work on your form and flexibility, but in the actual workout isn't the time.


wrote …

Jordan, I think you're spot on with your assessment of the goal of Fran, but I also think there's value to be had in Dave Tate's perspective--regardless of whether he is CrossFitting or not, agree or disagree? If there's a way to improve on force production that comes from a set of "fresh eyes," then we all benefit from it. And I think that Dave recognizes top tier conditioning when he sees it, so I venture to say that his critiques weren't ad hominem criticisms of Greg, they were valid coaching points hinging on the movement itself.


wrote …

Jordan et al,

I think you need to examine the coaching pts. made by Dave and not Dave himself...The coaching pts are valid. Some of the best coaches at the professional level cannot throw a 100mph fast ball, or hit a golf ball 300 yards but their coaching pts are still valid and listened to by Josh Beckett or Tiger Woods...

If you respect the coaches abilities/knowledge/experience, it doesn't matter what his/her skills are or were...Dave is knowledgeable in certain domains and not others...and power/strength would be one of those domains..

My 2 cents


wrote …

How is Tate's physical shape/abilities in any way related to his coaching? You could say the same thing about Glassman? It's irrelevant as Tony pointed out.

I don't think he is encouraging Greg to sit back like a box squat since that would pitch the shoulders forward. I think he wants him to sit back a bit more, so that every rep comes off the heels (like a proper front squat) with a vertical torso, since that is the most effective way to do a front squat/thruster. Of course when going for high reps and low weight form is not going to be bang on.

This might have been Dave's first exposure to a CF workout, so it was just him speaking off the cuff, not sure the relevance even of posting the video, I also found the foot pounds discussion awkward, like they were trying to brag to Dave how awesome CF is.


wrote …


Set yourself up a little competition with Tate. It'll go like this:

For Time:

Run 400m
Powerclean(345lb) 1-1-1-1-1-1-1

Each rep counts as one point. You cannot move on to pullups until you've completed the cleans.

3-2-1 go!


wrote …

Greg Amundson is the man, all your videos are awesome.



wrote …

dave is no crossfitter and im not a powerlifter. dave gives constructive criticism of what he knows best and is trying to help amundson to get a quicker time. u can hate on the fella for that. kudos tate love ur vids


wrote …

If you look back at the archives to dave's intro he states clearly that is discpline is powerlifitng, not olympic lifitng, running or anything else. He nevers claims to have expertise in any other field or whether what he knows will cross over to what we do and make you a better Crossfitter.


wrote …

Interesting that he says he's quad dominant when most CFers are posterior chain dominant and have ridiculously weak front squats...which would fix thrusters more...

Not bagging on him but this goes way back to the "high bar vs low bar squats" powerlifting versus Oly lifting...Its a front squat to a push press (in a minimal amount of time I might add)...both Oly-centric things. Tell me how powerlifting helps here other than to put up more weight without a speed factor.

Greg Everett could do more to get his time down I'd think.


Richard Meurk wrote …

Intensity vs Technique


Andrew Stemler wrote …

it gets us thinking, thats the important thing. Who wouldnt like a bit more juice in their posterior chain.


wrote …

The point here is to get you thinking about the movement, the biomechanics, and how it may (or may not) be relevant. Clearly kipping has it's place in CF and it's done for a reason but it's not very relevant to a PLer so I'm not surprised at Tate's comments. The comparisons between a CFer and a PLer aren't relevant to the points here -- apples and oranges.

In fact, I'd love to see more specialists offer their $.02 on some of the core CF lifts/exercists. Bring in an olympic lifting coach and a gymnastics coach and let's hear their feedback...surely more info is better, right?

[Former competitive PLer here and Westside fanboy]


replied to comment from Jordan Atwell

Dave may not be able to do a "fran" very fast but the guy knows how to lift. I would like to see Josh Everett lift 900 pounds off a squat rack and just stand there, let alone actually squat it. Dave knows his stuff and your argument is pointless saying that he couldn't perform fran. Your crossfit leader, Glassman, couldn't perform any of the workouts you're prescribed yet you listen to what he says like he's some kind of God. The point is, you've got a genius of a technical lifter in Tate and he's putting in time to help people whom he doesn't even agree with in terms of training theory. Thats called giving back to the fitness community.

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