Raw Strength

By Andréa Maria Cecil

In Kids, Powerlifting

March 21, 2011

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CrossFit Athletes—half of them teenagers—from CrossFit Brand X head to their first powerlifting meet and almost all come home with first-place medals. Andréa Maria Cecil reports.

Twelve competitors.

Nearly all at their first powerlifting meet.

Eleven first-place medals.

Twenty-eight state records broken.

All CrossFitters.

“It obviously shows we’re good at what we do,” said 15-year-old Cole Dick, one of the 12 from CrossFit Brand X who competed in the Feb. 19 USA Powerlifting California State Powerlifting and Bench Press Championships in Santa Clarita, Calif.

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18 Comments on “Raw Strength”


wrote …

Very glad to see this documented here.

When a gym which can only draw on a total population of 33000 produces athletes who can achieve results like this, there's no way anyone can claim that it's because they were able to pick and choose who they worked with.
Brand X has some special coaching going on there.


Bob Guere wrote …

We know it's not the water.....


wrote …

Interesting quote to put in the intro: " “It obviously shows we’re good at what we do,” said 15-year-old "

I don't mind that he said it. He's 15. But for a journal with an editor, it's a little different. It is not obvious. It shows that they were good that day compared to the other competitors. What records were broken? Compared to many powerlifters or even Rip/Kilgore's standards sheets, those lifts aren't THAT big.

And, since it is very relevant, what program did these "Athletes" [it's capitalized now?] follow prior to the comp? '4 met cons, 2 lifting days' doesn't have the same feel as "constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity". It sounds like a progressive plan. It doesn't sound like it's exactly Crossfit - but we can't tell because it's not clear.

They did great. They should be commended. They likely train with good technique and intensity. But lifting heavy things regularly makes you stronger. More strong than occasionally lifting heavy things through constant variance. The article should be more objective and include less fluff about how great they are.

A 364 bench is HUGE. But listing just a heavy bench is the anti-crossfit. I bet he has a mean bicep curl. Was he injured? How come he didn't squat or deadlift? Etc.


replied to comment from Matt Solomon

This was an article about an Affiliate sending people to an event which tested one aspect of their training and doing well at it, better than anyone else in the State had until that time.

If you want an article about their training methods, ask nicely, or go visit them, hang out, ask their Coach questions and write one.
Criticising someone else' work when you haven't done any is lazy and rude.

For now, do some homework.
The powerlifting federation is named.
The location of the meet is named.
From that I was able to find the current records and the results from that meet.
As I've said and you could have worked out, they broke several state records.

As far as their training methods.
Look up the author of the CrossFit Strength Bias article here in the Journal.
Look up the owners of Brand X.
Look at the name of their Coach.
See if any are the same.
You'll get some hints about what they're doing.

Take the same name you came up with in the previous exercise and look at the Strength related threads on the message board. You'll get more information there.
Mainly you'll see that guy being ignored when he quietly tries to tell people how to use CrossFit to get stronger, but then that just means that the people who are ignoring him miss out on knowing how to train kids how to break State powerlifting records. Idiots.

If you want to discuss the training program directly with the source and people who have helped to test the training program, the affiliate mentioned operates a message board which is currently mainly known for providing scaled workouts.
Sign up, ask politely and I'm sure the owner will give as much time as he can to answer your questions.


wrote …

Jeff and Mikki Martin have created a program for kids that has changed and will continue to change the limits of human athleticism. Their tireless stalwart work in creating the CrossFit Kids Course, and the subsequent effect it has already had upon my two son's as well as countless other children the world over, is something we all in the CrossFit community owe a debt of gratitude for.

Thank you for all you have done for us and continue to do for our future generations Jeff and Mikki, the CrossFit Kids Program is a gift that will potentiate our children's future health and well being.


wrote …

From my perspective, this article is like the Results section of a research paper. Wow! Those kids lifted THAT much, under the pressure of a competition, and broke state records... As cool as that is, as a trainer, I'm more excited to read the nuts and bolts in the Materials & Methods section, you know "how can I do that too?". What did their training consist of, how often in each element, how did you prepare them for the unknown of a competition, how did you keep them motivated, were these kids hand selected, where did they start out from, ect.? Hopefully equally inquisitive trainers will ask their specific questions and be able to apply the answers to training the next generation of CFers.


wrote …

I love the perspective and specifically I love Matt's challenging questions. The only thing that I have to say is that I have had occasion to both train and train with several of the teenagers from Brand X. What I find impressive is that they are not "powerlifters" as it were. They train CrossFit and are pretty adept at it. However, they stepped outside of what would normally be considered a CrossFitter's comfort zone and came home with some hardware. To walk out of that competition with that much hardware merely speaks to the efficacy of the programming inside of the Teens program at Brand X, not to mention the grace under pressure (and the bar) that these kids embodied during a competition in a sport that none of them have ever technically competed in. I also think that it is important to note that all of these "kids" have been lifting for years. They have basically been a study in what appropriate programming and supervised weight lifting can yield. Simply: performance.

I think that instead of letting the world know that "those lifts aren't that big," we recognize them for what they are; the expression of the strength of the teenage work ethic when gently encouraged in the right direction.

Nice job guys, chances are that you can out-lift a significant number of the readers and you really haven't even finished growing yet, I can't wait to see what you can do in the next 5-15 years.


wrote …

I competed at this meet too, and it was really great to see all those kids putting up huge numbers.
Awesome stuff guys!


I am happy to discuss with you any questions you have, just hit me up.
To address a couple of points here.
Regarding the numbers, Rips strength standards are for adults not teens. I would say some of the lifts are huge. Alison, who works on the CrossFit Kids staff, certainly lifted some big numbers. Her lifts won her the best female lifter in the state award. I purposely had the kids lift their first two attempts within numbers that they were comfortable with, and then go for broke on their final attempt. As an example, Keegan squatted 303 at the meet, but missed 350 which would have been a 5 pound pr. He deadlifted 358, but missed a 403 deadlift which would have been a 10 pound pr. I am sure the next time he competes he will lift closer to his top end.

The man who did the bench press was injured. He hurt his back and had been nursing it for several weeks. He also was working in Chicago Monday-Friday, and taking the redeye home to Cali to spend the weekend with his family. He chose to compete to support the gym and his 14 year old son. As far as his capacity, he did the Open WOD #1 this weekend and got 6+ rounds, 20 minutes later he benched 405 x 3. He has a 1:14 Grace and a sub 2:45 Fran, squats in the mid 400's and shoulder presses 225 for reps. Yes he likely has a mean bicep curl since I have not, as of yet, been able to correct his clean so that it looks anything other than a 300# deadlift/reverse curl.

I am very proud of the kids for the reasons John outlines and more. These kids chose to step outside their comfort zone, and into the arena. I know what these kids have struggled with, where they came from. Cole walked into Brand X, 5'8" tall 11 year old weighing almost 240 pounds. He had trouble squatting to a chair. At 15, he is now 6'2" and weighs about 190, I watched him squat 300 x 3 last week.
I may know where these kids have come from, but I don't think anyone knows where they are going or what their potential is.


wrote …

In reading the comments I always notice the negativity of Matt Solomon. Perhaps he could get his own page that you have to link to from each and every comments section so we don't have to read his tras...er I mean comments. I know it's probably not going to happen but at least all who read this can nod their head in approval and have a smile on their face, I know I am!

To Jeff and Mikki Martin I applaud you for the incredible job you've done with all the kids at BrandX. I have two young children myself and can't wait to utilize your training technique and have a blast with them. It's nothing short of a miracle what you've done with Crossfit Kids! In the future and beyond so many healthy strong vibrant people will be able to trace their fitness roots back to you!


wrote …


Thank you for your response. Your three paragraphs would have added immensely to the article.

And that is my point.

The lifts are all great. I guarantee I'm not the only person left with more questions than answers after reading the article. I never doubted John Mckay's capacity, the article just doesn't comment. It's simple to say he was injured vs only interested in bench press. Similarly, the article is not giving the competitors full credit since they apparently 'played it safe' for the two lifts, as you mention. The kids followed 'standard teen programming'. What did the adults follow? (Whatever it was worked - it just doesn't say whether it's general CF, CF Strength Bias, CF plus 5-3-1, half CF/half HEAVY.

My beef is with the article, not the performances. Commenting on overcoming adversity, comfort zones and family moments would have been far better than describing two powerlifters' credentials and then a quote that the lifters had "good numbers". They did X, we got that. Who got which records? How did they get their (eg training)? Could they have done anything differently? What was the competition like? Just off the top of my head.


You are mistaking your 'tivities. Objectivity. I lost track of how many emails I have received from CF and CFJ posters, lurkers and HQ staff continuing (and encouraging) debate and discussion. This is a journal not a fan club.


replied to comment from Matt Solomon

So it would have killed you to post, "Well done to everyone but the article is a bit light on detail as to how this was achieved. Is there any chance we could have an article about the training methods used?"?

Instead you chose to insult the writer and the editor.

Sorry to burst your bubble Matt, but not everyone is a member of your fan club. You don't say how many people have written complaining about your posts and it's quite possible that the people who should have have been too polite to do so.
I guess someone has to start and Fernando having done what I should have:
I don't enjoy reading your negative comments and find many of them offensive.
I find you consistently rude, inconsiderate, deliberately abrasive and arrogant and I would like you to stop.

I know that won't count for anything in the scheme of things, but it isn't fair that the maintainers of the Journal think people find your behaviour universally acceptable simply because no-one is stating otherwise.


wrote …

At least I'm consistent!

It's not about the training methods. Being a part of my fan club (??) is irrelevant to the message and the quality of the article. And, I did my 'homework' as you snidely remarked earlier.

Jeff Martin's last paragraph in his above post probably says more about their performance than any score or place could.


wrote …

Oh for the love of all that's good in the world - will you two quit fighting! Congratulations to the competitors and coaches involved.


wrote …



wrote …

Excellent work Coach! I imagine you must have been very proud of their effort, their results and to have been able to walk the journey with them! Paul


wrote …

Having spent some time with two "OG" Crossfitters in my "babysitting" days, Its refreshing to see them follow in the path of their parents and stay strong both physically and mentally. Nice job Brand X

TJ Cooper
CrossFit East


Jeff Martin wrote …

The written word is easy to misunderstand. Being civil takes extra effort, but generally worth it. Debate and questions are good, I would appreciate the extra effort to be civil as we discuss your questions.
I think the article was just what it intended to be, a very simple overview of what was accomplished. I look at it as simple documentation. As that type of article I was very pleased with it. I especially enjoyed that the author sought out powerlifters and discussed what we had done. I don't believe the article ever set out to discuss the "how".

At the CrossFit Kids Cert I discuss our typical CF Teens programming. We have been running this programming for several years. The programming revolves around two weightlifting classes where we focus on Deadlift and Squat and four Metcon classes per week. The Metcons revolve heavily around, Olympic lifts, Jumping, Agility and Tumbling. As Craig points out we are in a small town, we have consistently produced some great results from our program. Some of these are:

2008 - first kid to do Fran as Rx'd under 3:00 (2:30)
2009 - first kid to do Helen as Rx'd under 7:00 (6:29)
2010 - California State High School High Jump Champion (7 feet)
2011 - 5 California State USAPL Powerlifting Champions
2011 - 57 inch standing box jump

Just last night I had two 12 year olds who did the Open WOD 11.1 as rx'd, using 75#'s. That's only 10 pounds under their bodyweight. I think the simple documentation is well worth the effort and important. I believe the documentation should make people want to learn the how, and perhaps that is the next article.

Brother those "OG" kids benefitted immensely from that babysitting. Both young men now, they are working for CrossFit presenting at courses and working as trainers. Good to hear from you my friend.

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