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All Black in Bonsall by Mike Burgener - CrossFit Journal

All Black in Bonsall

By Mike Burgener

In Olympic Lifts, Videos

March 16, 2010

Video Article

The snatch might be one of the more complex athletic movements, but Coach Mike Burgener has developed a teaching progression that works for schoolchildren and elite athletes alike. In this case, Coach B is working with Owen Franks of the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team at Mike’s Gym in Bonsall, Calif.

Like many top athletes, Franks is a big, strong guy, but his best clean is 50 kg more than his best snatch, indicating to Coach Burgener that Franks needs to get faster—and the snatch is the best way to train for explosive power.

Burg starts the process where he always does: the Burgener Warm-Up with PVC, which is a great way to train parts of the complete movement while learning to put speed on the bar through explosive hip extension. From there, Franks moves through several skill-transfer exercises before picking up a 15-kg training bar for more drills.

Unflappable as always, Burg’s dogs hang out in the background while the master teaches.

14min 58sec

Additional reading: The Burgener Warm-Up by Mike Burgener and Tony Budding, published Jan. 1, 2007.

Free Download


34 Comments on “All Black in Bonsall”


wrote …

Coach B you are the best. When I am toasting the AB's World Cup Victory in 2011, you will be cheered with gusto. Owen and Ben Franks are some of the best up and comers in NZ rugby, so it's super news that Owen wanted to come improve his athleticism with the you.

Good Stuff,

robert vannewkirk
crossfit discovery


wrote …

great vid, many thanx coach B. i wish the Welsh rugby team would come out to cali for a few months with you.
more of this series please.


wrote …

owen franks is a legend in the making and the Franks boys devotion to the CF method may give the New Zealand fitness industry a kick up the arse. crossfit is still very much 'underground' but these boys will highlight how deficient most Big Box gym programmes are, and the people of this health and fitness conscious nation may one day soon see the light! Go The ABs!


wrote …

Can't wait to see what Owen will do to other props if he's even MORE explosive in that scrum. Go ABs!!!


Darren Coughlan wrote …

Great to see an athlete of that caliber on the journal. I met his Dad at a cert in Sydney and he was a top bloke.

CrossFit is great for rugby if done right. Some Super 14 Clubs have tried it here in the past without knowing how to do it and achieved some bad results.

We are running a rugby seminar for those that may be interested.

p.s. The All Blacks wont win the Cup ;)

CrossFit Newcastle


wrote …

This might also help his haka.


wrote …


Any material on what you're doing for Rugby. I've seen CF Football and it seems like some of the best stuff for backs. Might lack a little big of endurance work for forwards. Just curious.


wrote …

In an age where every 'little bit' counts - the fact that professional rugby union players are seeking advice from CrossFit coaches shows recognition of what the CrossFit program can offer athletes from any sport.

Jonathon - I can vouch for the CrossFit rugby program, whereby the endurance & aerobic capcity of the athlete are catered for. As a senior rugby coach and novice CrossFit athlete myself - I have seen forwards post 13+ in the beep test (which is an outdated testing format in my opinion for rugby players). I have also witnesed increased strength capacity, whilst morphing the body shape to suit the players position. These players are directly involved in CrossFit Rugby.

The problem in the southern hemisphere at present is failure of professional S&C coaches to accept that CrossFit (in all its capacities - CF / CF Endurance / CF Football etc) has positive implications for the athlete. Again I have seen from an Australian perspective whereby S&C programs will 'snip' a little Crossfit stuff - but not the wholistic approach.

As I began with - with players willing to open their minds, and videos like this emerging - if CF and CrossFit rugby can get a foot in the door - Lookout for the opposition that ignore those who will take the programme on...!

Hopefully Mikka Salo and his fellow countrymen don't take up rugby....!

Good article - thanks journal - you've covered my fee in 14 minutes..


G'day Jonathon,
What we are doing comes down to schedule as the most difference, but there is also a larger volume to what we do. Some more info will come out later and hopefully through the Journal aswell.

Follow our website and you'll start to see a pattern over time.

We will be setting dates for Seminars in Japan and Dubai shortly.

Contact Mike Smith at CrossFit Huntington Beach for dates in the US.

CrossFit Newcastle


Gerard Mcauliffe wrote …

Robert, its nice to see you have learned from your over confidence from previous world cups!
I was at the game in Cardiff against France in 2007 and i will never forget the look of utter disbelief on the faces of the All Black fans as they watched their team take a beating from France. Your nation has a history of bottling it at the World Cup and with the pressure of playing at home in front of an over expactant public i wouldn't bet against it happening again. You could do with another chant other than the mononetous 'All Blacks' too!
Coach B is fantastic, i could watch his videos all day. Definatley the best coach i've had the pleasure of learning from. Thank you.


wrote …

Would be interested to know whether NFL players use the Oly lifts? Are other rugby squads using them? Oly lifting (at least at the level of the snatch) seems to me like a very technical discipline which may not suit a squad system.

Enjoyed the video. Mike B clearly a master of his art.

As an aside, although Owen Franks seems like a nice, humble guy from that video, I'll be supporting the opposition to NZ at the World Cup in 2011. Used to like and admire them before "that tackle" on Brian O'Driscoll which nearly broke his neck. The subsequent arrogant dismissal of the incident and refusal to apologise promptly or in any meaningful way sealed the deal for me (and I suspect for many others who previously admired the men in black). If NZ can't win with all of the Pacific Island talent they've plundered, at home, they might as well give up.

Would like to see Part II of that video to watch Franks lift the weights. He looks like a very impressive athlete.


Colm O Reilly wrote …

Any follow up videos planned with Coach B and Franks?


Tracy Coughlin wrote …

I wish Coach B was my next door neighbor!


replied to comment from Shane Rugby


"Are other rugby squads using olympic lifts?"

I suppose it depends where you are.

In Scotland the Scottish rugby Union run Lavel 1 weightlifting and Level 2 Weightlifting and Plyometrics courses in conjunction with the UK Strength and Conditioning Association. The Level 1 course is basic how to squat, lift the weiht from the floor and overhead as well as introducing basic oly movements like push press and clean 2nd pull. The Level 2 course concentrates on Clean and jerk, snatch, programming and plyometrics. The Level 2 course is only in it's 2nd year so current pro rugby players may not have been exposed to the techniques as they were developing. The current crop of age grade players (under 16 to under 19) who are on the national age grade programmes are all learning to clean, jerk and snatch.

I think the Irish Rugby Union are promoting olympic lifting in a similar way and even hired in a specialist weightlifting coach for their national team about 2 years ago.




wrote …

Coach, great video... I have been doing the B.Warmup a little differently, but pretty close. I wasn't incorporating the push press from the bottom or the top positions. I love doing the Burgener Warmup.. I do it almost every workout. I agree that it increases your flexibilty as well as my comfort with the movements and the various posisitions. I usually use a 20 or 30 lb bar. Then move into a 45 or weigted Oly movements if those are on the agenda. For me I'll be concentrating more on the STRAIGHT down and up... I wasn't focused on the STRAIGHT part before so I'm sure I was leaning in a bit. Thansk C.F. & Coach for the complete video of a great great warmup and exercise.


wrote …

Great video. Coach B is top notch. It's excellent to see such a high level rugby player embracing CF, it is such a perfect match for his domain.


wrote …

Going to use it all today.
Thank you Coach B!


Phillip Sarris wrote …

Yes, it is great to see an International Rugby player from NZ wanting to embrace the training methods used by the top professional athletes here in the U.S.. I know for a fact that most S&C coaches in the NFL and College football have there players doing Olympic lifts. As for Crossfit, some S&C coaches understand and respect the method and there is a majority that dismiss it. Personally, I think because in schools that have S&C programs teachings are geared for specific movements for particular sport(s)being coached and a lot of the S&C students/Coaches perceptions are molded by the theory taught to them. What's great about CF is it is evidence based and when done by even the best athletes in the world it is a humbling experience.That said, in order to achieve balance physically it is best to develop a level of General Physical Preparedness(GPP)before you can even consider getting specific.

The athletes that practice the CF method will certainly reap the benefits.


wrote …

As Rugby player and Crossfit disciple its great to see the highest level recognising Crossfits benefits in our sport. To echo Duncans point Ireland and a lot of the provincial teams are using Oly lifting in their training and are using versions of CF workouts in their conditionning. No surprises we're currently experiencing our most succesful periods at International and Provincial levels!!! Only a matter of time until its the staple conditionning programme across the country. Perfect complement for in and off season - short, intense and effective.

Shane as an Irish man on Paddy's build a bridge and get over the O'Dricoll tackle. Its a contact sport. These things happen. Its emabarassing. NZ play the most attractive brand of Rugby going. Fact.

Really looking forward to more posts from Coach B and applications of Crossfit in other sports.



wrote …

this is an amazing resource for coaches....thx coach b!



replied to comment from Andrew Fraser

I love Crossfit, but you're giving misguided credit credit in your opening statement.

Franks came to Burgener to improve his olympic lifts not learn crossfit 101. Burgener is a Senior International Weightlifting Coach. He obviously takes part in CF and supports it, but the man is a weightlifting guru!

Crossfit for rugby? Obviously perfoming functional moves are the best. But it's like CF Football, you know the time domain, although games/player's roles are more varied than in gridiron football. But I'm sure you can tweak it and so that it's not entirely varied like the mainsite, but probably some longer domains than CFF. What have you guys done at CF Newcastle, Daz?

Besides learning the oly lifts, this journal entry doesn't tell us anything about Franks' training. Maybe he does oly lifts, then bicep curls, then hops on a treadmill for 25 minutes? He's an international athlete (AND A BEAST) but that doesn't mean he has an effective program.


replied to comment from Matt Solomon

Trust me Matt when I say, coach B also introduced Owen to alot of Crossfit metcons, so I beleive credit hasnt been misguided in the above statement,I can also tell you that as far as Ben & Owens training is concerned bicep curls and hoping on a treadmill are way down on the list of training priorities (almost insulting).

Crossfit & oly lifting is one segment of the boys rugby training...but it certainly gives you bang for buck!


replied to comment from ken franks

The ABs post lots of their training videos online. This is the first video on google when i search all blacks weight lifting. (link is WFS).

Sure, there are some functional moves in there, with obvious examples being weighted pullups and Carl Hayman's 220kg box squat!!! But the guy doing half squats one rack over? the standing one-legged lat pulldowns?? The stuff Nonu is doing on the Swiss ball? It doesn't give me the impression they are Crossfitting. Nor does the gym look very "crossfit" or the words of the physio/S&C coach in the video.

Maybe Ben and Owen are now crossfitting (is the whole team? are you related?), but my past internet creeping of the All Blacks didn't give me that impression. So, I'm glad they'd be insulted (which would only be the case if they didn't train like that...)


wrote …

Matt - sorry mate but I won't retract my comment from my initial sentiments.

Ben & Owen could seek the advice from their own S&C coach - but no they chose B.

You Tube video's only highlight that CF principles are used in snippets by various sporting codes - the development of CF Rugby could / should see the S&C programs redeveloped. As you would know the CF program also increases mental capacity to cover a workload.

I would encourage coaches from all aspects of sport to consider CF rugby / CF prgramming. I just love the fact that a player like Franks - from the highest calibre and great rugby nation - seeks imput from other coaches like B.

CF rugby / CF programming won't make you a better rugby player (skill wise) but it will damn well improve your physical & mental capacity and with increased gains in these areas - you can start to improve the skill level of the player. As a coach you can't ask for a better preparation.


wrote …

Crossfit is constantly varied functional moves performed at high intensity. There are many paths to achieve that target. Using CF principles in snippets is not one of them. CF didn't create the moves (except maybe some random stuff like wallballs or thrusters). Using CF's major 9 moves is good practice, but it's how you do it that makes it CF, not the moves on their own. This is done by making workouts seem like a competition for best time/most reps/most weight.

Using Burgener to learn olympic lifts was a smart move by Franks and Crossfit. Crossfit uses Burgener's expertise, but the workouts at Mike's Gym are all olympic lifting not CF. That's the difference. This isn't going anywhere. I shouldn't even have brought it up. I commented on what I saw. I also gave a compliment to Burgener that got misconstrued as a slight to CF and Franks. And to his brother! His brother isn't even in the video, how does anyone watching know how or with whom Ben Franks trains?

If you're arguing that rugby players and other sports' athletes would benefit from CF, it's not even an argument. I agree.

Geez. Let's pretend this never happened.


wrote …

I was thinking about all the same stuff last night and I find that lots of others are thinking just the same. The video we saw was Mike Burgener coaching a rugby player how to improve his snatch - nothing more, nothing less.

Coach told him that with his clean at 150kg and his snatch at 100kg he was obviously very strong but not very fast. Fair comment. But bear in mind that an olympic athlete such as Jonathan Edwards (former triple jump world record holder) had a power clean of 150kg and you realise that depending on your partiular sport you want to be training at a different place along the strength - speed line. For example, a sprinter will have a better power clean than a weightlifter (of the same bodyweight) because the weightlifter is working more towards the strength end. The same weightlifter will be able to lift more than the sprinter in a full squat clean though. I bet the rugby guy could beat the triple jumper on a deadlift easy!

As for CF programming for all sports. Obviously for CF as a sport itself the programming is specifically designed for it so it goes without saying. In rugby you have all sorts of different requirements depending on the position a player plays in. At one extreme is a prop forward. Modern professional props are squatting 250 - 260kg for 3RM on squat. If you want to get that strong you must do a lot of strength work and so where does the CF programming come in? If you decide to spend your time doing CF then you get to the 1st scrom and get your head stuffed up yourself and you lose!


Gerard Mcauliffe wrote …

'a sprinter will have a better power clean than a weightlifter (of the same bodyweight) because the weightlifter is working more towards the strength end'

Is this true? if so im very surprised.

Crossfit is strength and conditioning. As usual people are mixing up metcon for Crossfit. Strength work is one of the most most important parts of Crossfit. If all you needed you be a top scrummager was a big squat then they would just use the worlds best powerlifters, but they would need 10 mins rest between scrums! The reason Crossfit metcons would help professionals is because better conditioning means better perfomance late in a game as people tire and more mistakes are made.

As a foot note, i know amateur rugby players that concentrated on Crossfit and Crossfit football during pre-season. They found a huge difference when the season started. One player switched postion from prop to number 8 all thanks to his new found conditioning and mobility.


wrote …

Guys go to and check out the rugby wods there. Darren myself and Jeremy have had amazing results with rugby players who have been on the programming. Please get coaches, players, especially the younger players that are starting to weight train to the site, said wods will accelerate the nervous system development which leads to higher work capacities..isn't that what all coaches are looking for? The common mistake at this stage of development is too much emphasis on conditioning exercises(too much low intensity volume) and so called sport-specific training-please contact us regarding seminars,the programming fits nicely within the rugby calendar.


Phillip Sarris wrote …

Crossfit in general is a great method for training a Rugby team. Mike Smith and Jonnie Cox proved its merit with the 2007 Belmont Shore team in the Super League Championship game. Down by as much as 18 points Belmont staged a comeback that saw their foe the Chicago Lions wilt in the last 10 minutes to win 27-21.

Now there is which is a great template for aspiring Ruggers men and women to get valid training routines to improve their fitness level. Written by experienced professionals and tested at the top levels of professional rugby their programs are a credit to their service to the International rugby community. I only wish we had something like this when I was playing.

Fitness levels will only get better.


wrote …

The Franks (Owen, Ben, and dad Ken) just affiliated. They are CrossFit Canterbury in Christchurch, Canterbury, NZ.

Here is a news story on their opening:


wrote …

Pete #19, great to hear that Irish teams are using Oly lifting. It's clearly adding value to the training as I think we're a lot more explosive than we used to be even 4 years ago. I hate Oly lifts and am trying to get more flexible to make them easier!

As regards, "that tackle", you go and build a bridge if you like. I'm happy to have mine stay collapsed. Don't bother me none. Can forgive Backy's "hand of God", can forgive Finlay Calder taking out Jim Staples. But the Umaga / Mealamu spear was in a different league. Come on "ABABs" in 2011.


wrote …

Crossfit Newcastle Rugby is the best programming for rugby players by far. The results I have witnessed from Professional, Semi Professional and Amateur players has been outstanding (and in only 6 weeks). The pre-season, in-season and off-season regime is utilised to enable players to be at the peak of their fitness all year round. By taking the strength/conditioning/fitness aspect out of coaches hands and giving them fitter, stronger, bigger, faster players is a win-win for everyone. Coaches now can do what they do best - Coach players for skill development and pattern play. Rugby Seminars will be coming shortly.......

Darren, Mike and myself have worked hard to get this program tweaked to be used by any rugby player on the planet, regardless of ability and fitness level.


replied to comment from Gerard Mcauliffe

If all you needed you be a top scrummager was a big squat then they would just use the worlds best powerlifters, but they would need 10 mins rest between scrums!

Yes there has to be a balance between strength and endurance. I'd say an elite powerlifter would not have enough endurance to be an elite rugby prop. An elite rugby prop wouldn't be strong enough to be an elite powerlifter.

From what I've seen on the website CF pretty much goes along with strength being the foundation of "fitness". Everything you do is a proportion of your 1RM of doing that thing. The better your 1RM then the less you take out of yourself on each rep of a loading less than your 1RM. This is subject to diminishing returns because all the metabolic pathways are used in everything you do and you have to address them all to varying degrees depending on your chosen sport/playing position.

I coach amateur rugby players and what I'm saying to them is that most of them can get a quick benefit from just becoming stronger. So I have them start with squat, press, pullup, deadlift etc. The next thing we get onto is clean, then jerk, then snatch. I can get an improvement in max power output by increasing strength. Diminishing returns on this means that we have to start working specifically on increasing max power output so we do cleans. Snatches work the faster end of the strength - speed continuum. If I have my guys in the gym on Monday and Wednesday evenings during the season and they do field sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and play on Saturdays then they don't have much time for anything else.

A lot of th professional teams (and some amateur teams here in Scotland) are incorporating judo into their training. Seems like a good idea to me.




replied to comment from Tony Budding

Great piece Tony!

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