Using CrossFit with Your Swim Team by Brian Nabeta & Cortney Martellucci, Arden Hills Swimming (2013)



My name is Brian Nabeta; I’m the head coach at Arden Hill Swimming out in Sacramento, California.  I just happen to be the next-longest tenured coach at Arden Hills behind Sherm Chavoor.  I think some of the things that I have implemented into my program, such as the dryland program, some of it might make him turn over in his grave, but you know it will be alright.  I believe that what I’ve done in the past five years, with implementing CrossFit into my program, has definitely changed the way my kids look at dryland.  So what we’re going to do is go through how I use CrossFit with my swim team.


How many of you guys watch ESPN?  Yes.  How many of you guys watch CrossFit on ESPN?  Okay, that’s not CrossFit.  That’s not… that’s not what the masses use as CrossFit.  Those are athletes that train twice a day, just like our swimmers, just like Track & Field, just like gymnasts; and there on… they are there for half a million dollars, okay.  A lot of those athletes are professional athletes; they’ve got sponsorships and everything else.


So what we have going on with Arden Hills: everything we do is scaled proportionately to every group that we have on our team.  And I’ll go through how we integrate CrossFit into our program, and what we saw, and how well we did, how we build our skill base and how we design our WODs—WODs meaning workouts of the day.


A little history.  I’ve been at Arden Hills from ’99 until the present time.  And when I got to Arden Hills, I came from Golden Bear Swim Club and I also coached at U.C. Berkeley at the same time helping out with Mike Bottom and Nort Thornton.


So nothing against them, but I did a lot of stuff that I thought was important to the team at the time.  We had a twenty-station circuit.  The club bought me 10 Vasa Trainers.  I had surgical tubing.  I had bosu balls.  I had thousands of dollars of equipment, but every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we would go through a circuit.  Kids would walk in, they would know exactly what they were doing on Monday, have an idea definitely of what we were doing Wednesday and what we were doing on Friday.  We were circuit training.


At that time, we were going about 4,000-5,000 in the morning, and also going 8,000-10,000 yards in the afternoon. Between ’99 and 2006, I was mainly known as a distance-based program.  Up at Arden Hills, I kind of kept with the lore of Sherm Chavoor and most of my athletes were distance-oriented.


Between ’08 and present.  I want to just give you a little history of how CrossFit started.  I was 240 pounds in 2006, okay.  I had to make a lifestyle change.  So, I went from 240 pounds down to about 220 pounds, and then one of the trainers at the club introduced me to CrossFit.  And in January of ’08, I started doing CrossFit myself.  And I decided I was going to go to a Level 1 Certification in order to learn what CrossFit was basically all about: how it was going to make me better.  How I researched on the CrossFit webpage, it kind of just had me interested.  So I started CrossFit in 2008; I went to a Level 1 Certification.


I then went to CrossFit Kids.  I thought: if I can learn how to do CrossFit, what is this CrossFit Kid Certification, and how can I apply it to my swimmers?  So I went to CrossFit Kids.  Probably one of the best certifications I’ve ever gone to; even better than being CrossFit certified.


Those trainers down there at CrossFit Kids, their #1 emphasis at CrossFit Kids is to have your elementary school, junior high schoolers and high schoolers pass the Presidential Physical Fitness test.  I just gave my high schoolers—in my group, my Senior group—three exercises off of the Presidential Physical Fitness test for high schoolers; half passed the high school Presidential Physical Fitness test—at least of those three exercises okay.  And these are USA Junior National swimmers that I feel that they’re fit—they’re Swimming fit. Are they physically fit?  Maybe, maybe not; but they’re Swimming fit.


So what I’ve done is in the past five years we implemented CrossFit workouts, anywhere between 3 and 30 minutes long.  All of our CrossFit workouts are constantly varied; we just change-up our workouts on a constant basis.  And I’ll get to what our programming is in order for you to see how we go about our programming and coming up with workouts.


A little bit of how this came about: trial and error.  I think one of the things that… was it at last night’s on the Hall of Fame?  (What was his name?  No, the one that got the award.)  Don Swartz was saying: don’t be afraid of experimenting.  And one of the things that he said that brought it to light, a lot of what I learned at U.C. Berkeley with Nort Thornton, is: don’t be afraid to fail.  Okay?  I failed plenty of times implementing these CrossFit workouts.


Benefits of the first year, 2008-2009: the swimmers like variation.  We went from a twenty-circuit station, 20 minutes, 50 seconds on, 10 seconds off.  20 minutes, hustle your butt out to the pool, change, and get into water and pound it out.  Swimmers liked the variation.  They liked what we did.  They like the intensity; constantly varied functional movements done at high intensity.  They became stronger and more fit.


Drawbacks: as intense as we were with the varied CrossFit workouts that we were doing, I would still tell them to hustle your butts out to the pool—let’s get in.  Their heart-rates were pounding still at about 110 to 115 beats per minute.  They would get in the pool.  I just start warm-up, and we’d try to get in 4,000-5,000 yards, right after a CrossFit workout.  Probably not the smartest thing for me to do at that time in 2008 and 2009.


The only three people that it benefited in ’08 and ’09 were: Nicholas Johnson, he made National Junior Team in the mile; Michael Franz, one of my other swimmers was a Top-16 in 800 free; and one of my senior swimmers Katie Edwards, at that Austin Juniors, she ended up winning the 100 and 200 breast with the 1:00.08 and 2:11—they were Junior Nationals records at that time.  But those three are the only three that actually felt like they definitely benefited from CrossFit at that point.


In 2009-2010, I sent one of my assistant coaches to CrossFit Level 1 certification—Cortney [Martellucci].  I also sent her to CrossFit Kids.  I thought: if I had the knowledge to introduce it to my Senior group, I can send my Age Group coach over to get certified so that I can implement it to my whole team.  What we did a little bit different in ’09 and ’10 was we used more main-site CrossFit workouts.  And ’08 and ’09, I used a lot of CrossFit Kid workouts.


And it was important for me to start small and get bigger.  Most of you guys, if you guys have been on, those workouts are brutal, okay.  Myself, I do CrossFit three days on, one day off; and I scale workouts okay.  So if I’m scaling workouts, I know I’m scaling workouts for my own swimmers.  All the way down to my second grade, first grade and kindergarteners; they do similar workouts, but just scaled versions of it.


In 2010 and 2011, Cortney and I did a lot of in-house training of what movements we wanted for CrossFit within the program.  And, here, I blame myself and I apologize to my own swimmers during 2010-2011.  We did a lot more CrossFit; we did probably another 20% more CrossFit than I did the year before.  I was experimenting with lowering my swim volume and increasing my CrossFit volume.  So we were in the water (on the left-hand side, right down here), we were in the water in the morning maybe 1,500-2,000 yards—in the morning after the CrossFit workout.  It’s not much for a lot of your programs that are out there doing you know 2,000-4,000.  In the afternoons, because I knew that we were broken-down in the morning, I would be going about 5,500-6,500 in the afternoon.  So my volume dropped again between the high number of 9,000 or 8500, down to 6,500.


So we did not have that much success, at least based on the history of Arden Hills since I’d been there, where we had success at the middle distance and distance, Age Group.  What happened was we had some motivational issues: being in CrossFit, it takes a toll on your body, it also takes a toll on your mind.  As you know, as swimmers and coaches, you see how much the kids train.  That’s why you know some of the programs have a two week break in August.  They also have one at Christmas, and one in the springtime.  Well, we did CrossFit all year-round.  So one of the things I noticed was they were waning in motivation.  They came into practice; you could tell that they were they weren’t intense.


And so what I did is I dropped CrossFit for over four months; we decided that we’re going to take a break.  And on the right-hand side you could see what we increased for swimming.  So basically it was a CrossFit taper.  It basically went from all dryland to all swimming, and we actually did fairly-well that summer.


2011-2012 was the first time we went to back-to-back seasons of our full team doing CrossFit, all the way down from our kindergartners all the way up to our seniors in high school.  It seemed like their motivation was back—because when you take something away they want it returned.  And so we had a great amount of intensity and the kids really wanted to learn more and more about what benefits that they were going to have.


One thing that Cortney and I were doing a little bit better at, as we got more educated:  You know all you guys sit down as a coaching staff: you plan-out your season.  Your coaching staff gets together, you have a big calendar out there, you plan-out your meets, you plan-out your training cycles.  In the past, I used to just create dryland.  In the early stages of ’08 and ’09, I used to just plan-out a CrossFit workout the night before.  Now our CrossFit workouts for the season are planned basically at the beginning, all the way through.  So we cycle through CrossFit, our dryland program, just like we plan-out our swim season, our training cycles.  So it’s no different than how we sit down and plan-out our season for swimming.


The benefits.  Cortney and I are definitely… we watch and talk to our coaching staff; we’re very much involved and sensitive to the signs of over-training.  We realize that the pounding that our kids take.  It’s important for you to understand that: if they’re going to do a long, 30-minute MetCon [metabolic condition, a type of WOD] for dryland, that that afternoon, they might just be abused.  And you have to understand that if you’re wanting to do something hard and fast, that might not happen.


The drawback that we still have and that we’re still learning at the time was: how far can we go in and do workouts while during taper?  So we were experimenting with: are we going to go three weeks out, are we going to go two weeks out?  And we still did not have… and I think most of us during taper, not an exact science on when to stop lifting or when to stop doing a certain dryland program that you guys may be involved with.


So quickly now to 2012 and 2013.  The club that I work at is Arden Hills Resort Club and Spa, okay.  Did you hear that word resort club and spa?  If any of you have been to or seen Arden Hills on a website, we have palm trees, we have chaise lounges, we have cabanas.  We have a hair salon, we have massage therapists on deck—in the little cabanas.  But our General Manager decided that he was going to take CrossFit out of my hands, and give it to the strength and conditioning coaches—the NSCA [National Strength and Conditioning Association] strength and conditioning coaches—that we have on staff.  They’re used to only training personal trainers; they train 1, 2 and 4 people at a time.  So he wanted me and Cortney to hand over 30 of my kids over to the NSCA strength and conditioning coaches.  So my hands were wiped clean for about four months.


The kids.  The sophomores, juniors and seniors—who had done it for 1-3 years—they didn’t like it at all; they felt like they were going too slow through things.  A lot of the freshmen that were in the group, they didn’t know any better, so they actually made gains.  Because they were doing something different than the year before; they actually gained a little bit of strength.  But the sophomores, juniors and seniors really had a difficult time not really getting stronger.  One of my butterfliers actually, he lost muscle, about a half an inch off of the broadness of his shoulders, in four months.  And he didn’t perform in December as well as he wanted to.


January of 2013.  During the winter break, we took two weeks off; I sat down with management, I sat down with the NSCA trainers.  They told me that they were to going to give-up my group, because they had no idea how to coach 30 kids in one workout.  Yeah, kind of ridiculous, right?  The club took it out of my hands and now it was giving it back to me.  So what we did: in January, we resumed CrossFit.  Again, similar to that four-month break that that we did in, I think, 2010-2011.  The kids were psyched up; they were excited about it.  They wanted to pound out 3-minute workouts, they wanted to do 7-minute workouts; they wanted to just grind it out.


One of the things that I did take—I did an advantage of learning from those NSCA certified trainers—was my warm-ups.  My warm-ups: integrating stretching and balance drills, agility drills, dynamic stretching.  That all happened, and my education, through the NSCA trainers, prior to the workouts of the day.  So now I implement it.  I learned from them, as much as they were just dropping me off… giving me back my own swimmers.


The benefits: the kids’ appreciation/enthusiasm for CrossFit was noticeably renewed.  So again, we started back up.  During that time, I increased the morning workouts, another about 500-1,000 yards; so we’re now going 2,000-3,000 yards in the morning.  We’re back up to 6,500-8,500 at night.  So I now average the volume of morning and afternoons out so that I can experiment a little bit more with keeping them in the water a little bit longer.


Alright, the cumulative effects of CrossFit.  So some of the things that we do.  (This is where I think Sherm will rollover in his grave.)  We shifted from primarily a middle-distance/distance program to a solid middle-distance and some sprinting.  In 2012 and 2013, I had 14 girls under 24.99 in the 50 Free.  I know that’s not that fast for some of the programs that are in here; it’s just big for our team.  My team has a 165 swimmers on it, and to have 14 girls under 24.99, I thought that that was pretty good.  11 girls under 53 in 100 Freestyle.  I point out girls, because my group basically is like 80% girls, so I don’t have as much data on guys in 2012-2013.


So here are a couple of kids that I have that I do test sets with throughout.  And here’s some noticeable improvements on land, in our CrossFit workouts.  So Sydney Johansen—she goes to Boise State, she went to NCAAs.  Her freshman year, she rowed a 2,000 meter row on our C2 rower—we row a lot—she went from a 7:58, which is pretty solid, to a 7:40.  She would actually ask me what I thought about if she were to row crew, and I actually got interest from University of Washington for Sydney.


Maddie Johnson (over there), she rowed an 8:08 her freshman year.  She’s now just a starting senior right now.  Last season, she rowed a 7:50, at the college regatta up at Lake Natoma in Sacramento.  Stanford actually is inquiring with Maddie Johnson because she’s light enough to be in the lightweight boat.  So she’s a good swimmer, but now she rows a 7:50 2,000 and can be in the lightweight boat and she can possibly go to Stanford, rowing crew instead.  So swimmer going one way, great at Stanford and rowing crew another way.


So I have different kids that might be doing different things by the time they graduate high school besides been a swimmer.  I’m actually trying to create great athletes.  Okay.  Not everybody is going to be a Senior National swimmer.  But if I can find another niche with what they can do, then I can create other opportunities.


Katie Edwards (down there), she’s the one that won the 100 and 200 breaststroke at Junior Nationals.


Karen, the workout: is 150 wall-ball, with a 12-pound medicine ball, squatted and thrusted up to 9 feet.  It’s 150 of those reps.  She dropped from 7:06 down to 6:02—that is a ridiculous time okay.  Russell Mark has film of her underwater works at Juniors that year; he had it on the USA Swimming website.  She was actually getting out further than the boys 100 and 200 breaststroke at that Juniors.  Even though her stroke wasn’t as powerful, her walls were just as far as the boys were.


So I have taken-up 25 minutes and I want to give you over to our Age Group coach, Cortney.  She will explain what we do with our Age Group programs and our younger kids.  She has done a phenomenal job; she has developed a lot of Top-10 swimmers, several #1 athletes in the 9, 10, 11, 12 age groups.  So I’m going to turn this over to you, Cortney.


[Martellucci begins]

Okay.  So what we try to do with our program—whether it’s a 10-year-old coming-in or maybe a Senior kid who hasn’t been with the program, maybe they’re transferring from another team or something and they haven’t gone through the program:

  • We like to create continuity between the groups.
  • We want to use a similar language. So when we describe things, we described them with the same words, from our 7, 8, 9 years-olds up to our big kids.
  • We want our movements to be simple. We don’t need to complicate them.  And we want to make sure that they can do the basic ones right before we make it complicated.
  • We also create movement standards. So we want all our kids to do push-ups the same: we don’t want push-ups out here, we want them like this.  We want them to know that.  So when we have kids come in who are new to the program, they may do a push-up one way; we have to revise what the definition of that movement is.  We also make sure that they can do it right before they move on and do it more complicated.  We take the simple movements and we move them on, and combine them to make other movements.


I’m going to go through some of our basics and tell you kind of what the most important pieces are.  As you go through this, there’s a lot more on the screen than I’m probably going to say—hopefully, so that I can kind of keep us rolling.  But you can always go online and find the presentation; it’s on our website.  If you’re taking pictures, feel free to read through.  But I’m going to hit really the errors we see and the cues we use.


So in a squat, we always ask our kids to start by looking forward.  We make sure their hips are neutral.  We ask them to place their heels under their thumbs.  When they squat, the first motion they make is they move their hips back, and we make sure that their chest stays tall as they move their hips back and their knees stay out.  Those are the two big things.  When there are problems with that, it is often flexibility: in the hips, sometimes in the back.  But it’s also strength in the hip adductors.  As they go down, that they keep their chest up, their eyes forward, and that they squat properly.


They need to stay on their heels—that’s a really big deal.  We have a lot of kids who think they can go onto their toes.  Because they don’t have the flexibility, they might naturally go that way and we have to force them back.  You can give kids targets to squat to; you can give them a ball.  At CrossFit Kids they say give them a cone and then they won’t plop down so hard.  I don’t know about that, but anyway.


So we also have some different ways that we can do squats.  The lower left-hand side is our swimmer Maddie when she was younger; she’s doing an overhead squat.  We do overhead squats some warm-up with PVC because kids do really-great squats when they have their hands up, because I think it extends their torso.


We have Noah, up on the left-hand top; he’s doing a thruster.  Thruster is a press combined with a squat.  They are not fun.  He—with those younger kids as you see with weights—with the younger kids, all we do is teach them the movement.  We don’t actually… we give them maybe a 2-pound weight.  So that they know how to finish, they know where they are going, they know what they are doing.


And then this is Cathy Woo; she is going to be a freshman at UCSD.  She’s doing a thruster.  Her chin is up a little bit, but we’ll forgive her for that.


So the next one: push-ups.  This is a hard one because we struggle with strength; they’re not strong enough to do it the proper way, often times.  I know with my 10&Unders, my strongest kids can do it; but there’s a big gap between the strongest kids and those who just can’t get it right.  So I’m going to show you some modifications on that too.


Whenever we do a push-up, we actually teach it from the ground, up.  We ask them to get their hands in front of their shoulders, and to get their hips up off the ground before they press up.  We want their core and their quads really, really tight.


This is how we say it too: this is where you start, this is where you go, and this is where you finish.  So when I teach that to the younger kids we say that: this is where you start, this is where you go, and this is where you finish.  So we tell them what to do.  With the older kids, we might not say quite like that.  But there’s never any harm in doing that; we find that using silly terms and things like that works for everyone, as long as it creates a funny visual in their head or a word that they can remember.


So when we do a push-up, hands start there.  We want their elbows mostly pointed back.  We want them in a neutral position with their shoulder; we don’t want them extended outward thumbs out.  We want to keep things close and tight.  And then when they go up, the hard part for some of them is moving their hips at the same rate.  You guys have seen kids do push-ups where they get off the ground and they push their chest up and then their butt comes.  We try really hard not to do that, and we have some variations on that.


When we do a push-up in a WOD, the rep counts if their chest touches the ground.  So when they come down, they have to keep tight, their chest touches the ground, and then they press back up.  We try to get our kids to call each other out and say no rep if it doesn’t count—if they don’t get it—but we’re still working on that.


Variations on push-ups.  (We have Kylie a lot because we needed pictures last minute.  We’re like hey Kylie, come do this.)  So she’s doing step-ups right there.  You can do different heights of step-ups.  I do step-ups with the younger kids, especially those who aren’t able to do push-ups.  And you can do you know a small 6-inch step, you can do a curb.  She’s doing a quite-large step.  The biggest thing I always tell them is they need to not rock their hips.  It’s not swimming freestyle, we want them to keep their hips tight.  It makes their abs tight; it makes their core, back and butt tight.


Second revision: she’s doing an incline, or you can do it from the knee.  There’s a little trick I’m willing to show you guys at some point.  The knee push-ups, people say oh they don’t ever get much better.  You can do a decline push-up: set the knees down and push it back up from the knees, as long as the hips never touch the ground.  That’s kind of a nice revision.  We’d some success with some of the freshmen who’ve come into his group, who can’t do a good push-up; we ask them to do it that way.  And then eventually they’re able to do it a clean push-up that looks really good.


And then this one is decline push-up.  And you think well, if you can’t do a regular push-up how do you do a decline push-up?  It’s actually amazing.  They do better with the decline push-up than a normal push-up, because their hips can’t touch the ground.  So it’s a little trick to throw at them if you want to mix it up, so that they’re forced to rely on strength and figure out how to do it versus kind of struggling through it.


Pull-ups.  We do pull-ups once or twice a week with nearly every group.  The biggest thing is hands are wide and your body fully extends at the bottom.  A lot of the boys come-in after high school gym class and they’re like to here, and I’m like no all the way down, all the way up.


The big question: is kip or not kip?  Do you guys know what a kip is?  Okay.  You get a kid who comes in, cannot do a normal pull-up.  But, if they can kip four or five times and get a pull-up, or they can get their very first pull-up because they can gymnastic-kip that thing up; their pride swells.  Maybe they can’t do one strict, but over-time they get to where they can do 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 kipping; then all of a sudden you say hey can you try a pull-up for me?  They can do a pull-up.  So it generates it.


I have video of all of this.  When we’ve kind of wrapped up… and I’d love to show you guys that stuff, and I can toggle in-between the presentation and that.  So when we’re done.  Or at some point, if anybody is like what is a kip?  I can show you what a kip is.


So we do it.  We try to teach it.  We teach it all the way down.  We have monkey bars, so hands strength across, learning how to control your body.  We do something called dead fish.  (I’m actually going to go ahead and show you guys this real quick.  Hopefully it doesn’t mess up the presentation.)




[audience member]:  Can you show us a kip pull-up?


[Martellucci]:  Okay, so this is a kipping pull-up.  Okay, she doesn’t know how to do that, when she started it.  Power is generated from your core on that.  If you watch one more time, she bends her knees; that’s actually inefficient.  If she would keep her legs straight, she would throw her hips harder, it would be easier for her to get up.  Do you like how I’m all critical?  You know she can do a regular pull-up.  She doesn’t like them, but she can do them.


Okay, this is dead fish.  This is his attempt at figuring… he hasn’t done pull-ups in a while.  This kid actually can probably do 15 pull-ups or so, but he took three weeks off and now his coordination is all….  That’s dead fish right there; how he’s trying to control his hips and then he does a pull-up.  Okay?  That initial movement that he was doing, right here—where you kip back and try to control your hips—you get that in a rhythm, that would be considered what we call dead fish.


(Does anybody need it again?  We’re good.  Anybody want to see any of the other stuff I’ve already covered that I forgot about?  Okay.)


So we do teach everyone to press, even the little guys—give them the little tiny 2-pound weights.  Because we want them to have the awareness, the body movement and the ability to do these things as they get more advanced.  Biggest thing, and this is a great cue that I learned at CrossFit Kids: in a press, it’s a down, up, and we want them to dip.  We don’t want them to go like this.  (You’ll notice she’s down: it’s because I froze her doing a thruster.  She’s not actually dipping.)  We want their spine upright.  But it’s a short little dip, knees out, and then it’s a press.  A lot of leg drive, a lot of hip opening.


We call it Oompa Loompa, because everybody has seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  And so we say: do you know what an Oompa Loompa is?  They’re like yeah.  So: Oompa Loompa, right?  Okay.  So they know what that is.  And say I don’t want you to go down deeper than that; I just want you to down, up, and then I want you to jump the barbell up, make it weightless.  So you can see there: jump.  Get your hips moving.


Deadlift.  This is a 4-year-old: you can teach a 4-year-old how to deadlift.  Again, there’s no weight—she is using a soccer ball.  But if we teach them how to deadlift when they’re young, their flexibility is better usually.  And when they move-up through the groups, then they are able to do cleans—they’re able to do med-ball cleans.  They’re able to be in proper positions for things.


You see on their angry gorilla.  Angry gorilla is the position we asked them to get into.  You can see right… the third picture at the bottom.  She’s a little low, but she’s 4, so I let it go.  She’s in that position.  We asked them to stick their butt out and get their chest up, before they stand up.  So I tell that to Matt Spallas, who is a Junior National qualifier: Matt, where is your angry gorilla?  Let’s go.  And he laughs, and then he does it, and it’s good.


So we also make sure that anytime we’re cleaning or deadlifting, that we go from our heels and that your chest is tall and your shoulder is back.  We have kettlebells, we have med-balls that we use, we have sand bags that we use; and all of it appropriate to age.  The 10-year-olds go up to 26-pounds kettlebells.  If their parents are worried about that, ask them how much their backpack is.  Their backpack is probably more than that or right around there; so if they can learn how to lift their backpack up, then they can lift that light weight.  And again, it’s more of a training the motion, than it is training a strength-piece at that point.


Cleans.  We go to that angry gorilla again.  This is called triple extension.  We look for them to straighten their legs, open their hips and shrug their shoulders.  And you can see in the second picture, Cathy’s hit that position quite nice.  I think she freeze-framed that for me, though, and had to stop right there.  So ideally, if she’s really going, she’s moved back a little bit.


I can show you real quick what this one looks like—it’s worthwhile seeing, I think.  So this is clean, and this is with a med-ball.  So we ask her to extend all the way and then drop quickly under the ball.  You can do this with… we do it with sand bags, med-balls.


So one more time.  Now, this is the fun part, okay.  So we have Cathy Woo, we say Cathy, you know how to do a thruster, right?  You know how to squat obviously.  And we do this to them.  And if you ask me, I actually like that more than wall ball—that’s wall ball with a clean.  Wall ball to me is more tiring, because you don’t get to put the ball down.  So, if you don’t mind cleaning, this is easier.  So that would be how we can combine some of these things.


So we want to make sure they catch it high.  This is Karen; so when he was mentioning Karen, the 150 wall ball, this is throwing that ball up to that target 150 times.  They get to a point where they want to stop every 3, and you have to just encourage them not to.


And finally: rowing.  We do a lot of rowing; we probably row every other week, if not maybe every 8-10 days.  This is way more complicated than it looks, so I’m just going to go ahead and say that it’s the coordination.  Some people are going to get it right away; some people you are going to have to teach it.  It’s like breaststroke, you know; it kind of has its own little idiosyncrasies and you’ve got to figure out how to get it to work for them.


But basically we have them start here and we say: send your arms back, send your legs towards the fly wheel, legs back, arms back.  So it’s: arms legs, legs arm, arms legs, legs arms.  Because most of the kids want to send their knees back, instead of putting their hands back first.  So it’s having…  we’ve been using the terminology: you don’t want to swim breaststroke like this, so you wouldn’t want to row like that.  Send your breaststroke arms back and then bend your knees.  So it’s kind of neat to use them across each other.


This is the list of stuff we use—we are going to come back to this, hopefully, at the end if we have enough time, so that we can show you some of the different ways we use the different things.  Some of the stuff is scaled; some of the stuff is kind of progressively harder, progressively easier.  It’s just groupings; there is no particular rhyme or reason as to why we put them in the order we put them in.


We use a lot of burpees.  I didn’t show you a burpee; I would love to show you a nice burpee.  They get pretty sloppy at the end of the things, but as long as they’re moving that it’s often what you’re looking for, with intensity.


And then the other one I would hope to show you is double-unders.  We have a boy who did a 153 double-unders.  If you don’t know how hard that is, it takes a 1:30 or so; and when he got done, he put his hand on his chest and he was like oh my god, my heart is pounding.  So it’s a skill that we teach.  We start jump rope when they are 5 and 6 years-old, so that we have -year-olds who can do double-unders—we have 9-year-olds who can do double-unders.  I couldn’t do a double-under until I was 31, so….  But we’ll come back to that one.


I’m going to give this back to Brian (and we have about 20 minutes).


[Nabeta returns]

Okay.  Cortney went through a lot of our skill-based work that we do with the kids.  We happen to be very spoiled at the club with the amount of equipment that we have.  We have dumbbells.  We don’t do a lot of barbell work.  We use PVC pipe.  We use med-balls.  We use kettlebells.  We use battle ropes.  A lot of different things that we use in order to get 30 swimmers in each group through a CrossFit workout.  We just so happen to be fortunate to have all of that.


We don’t do heavy weights.  I hope you saw some of the dumbbells that they were using; they aren’t very big, okay.  Like Cortney was saying, her group and below, they may use 2-pound dumbbells, they may use 5 and 7.5.  My group may max-out a 25-pound dumbbell, at most.  We are talking about boys that are 180-190 pounds that use a 25-pound dumbbell.  Because I feel comfortable teaching them the proper technique, in order for them to know what the movement standard is before they go off to college.


Sydney Johansen, I taught her how to do a front squat, back squat, and overhead squat.  And she was actually tickled pink to text message me to tell me that she was the example of all three movements of their first squatting session at Boise State.  Okay?  I was stoked; I was like I taught that girl well.  And I felt pretty proud.


So CrossFit goes over 10 general physical skills.  And same with any other sport, for Swimming, Track and Field: power and speed.  That’s what we want to create in Swimming, okay.  Power and speed especially yards.  Our group, you know the majority of the season that we coach as Age Group coaches… short-course season is two-thirds of the year for most of us.  So a lot of the stuff that we do is power- and speed-based.


We do swimming, cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina.  We use mainly the first six, with a little sprinkling of the bottom four, okay.  I know that a lot of people go: well you know coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.  Yeah, you’ve got to be accurate on the turn; I understand that, we work on it in the pool.  But a lot of the dryland, we work for… we want power and speed.  And that’s where the intensity comes at in the Crossfit workout.


Seasonal planning and programming.  This is where, at the start of my talk, I was talking about me messing up a lot and realizing what I needed to do.  So what I did is I talked to Cortney and since this past summer—Spring and Summer were very successful.  I decided to go ahead and let you guys…. Eight weeks: we planned from NCSA Juniors to the high school Section meet.  What we did was reestablish intensity after the NCSA Junior meet; we also increased endurance and max aerobic capacity.  A little bit longer MetCons.  We did not do a lot of interval work in workouts; we did a lot of 10-, 12-, 15-, 20-minute WODs in the morning.  And then from 10 weeks: from the high school Section to Sectionals, that’s when we increased their interval work for the CrossFit workouts.


The 8-week planning—NCSA Juniors to high school Sections—I had a girl at 1:56 200 Freestyle; she thought that was so awesome.  She was actually 1:55; she went from 1:58 to 1:55.  And then we must have hit something really-well at the high school Sections, because she ended-up going 1:50 at high school Sections and dropped five seconds.  That same person—that girl that didn’t miss very many workouts, loves CrossFit—she also went from 5:12 to 5:03 to 4:53 in the 500 Freestyle.


We had a lot of other major drops in swims, because… one of the main things that the kids tell me, and it’s funny, because they can get themselves through a swim workout and pop out of the water and go I’ll see you tomorrow.  They can’t do that when they finished a CrossFit workout.  They get out of a CrossFit workout, they could barely breathe.  They’re not picking up their backpack, they’re not talking to each other right after the workout.  They’re recovering; they’re trying to catch their breath.  And that’s what I tell them after a swim race.


How many of you had swimmers get out of the pool and come walking over to you talking like talking to you like they’ve been sitting next to you all afternoon?  I’ve had plenty of swimmers that came up to me and go, “Oh man. I probably could have gone another 2 seconds faster.”  Well, why not?  You don’t even look tired.  But you’ll die doing a CrossFit workout.  There is no difference between a two-minute CrossFit workout and the two-minute freestyle.  Go. 


Okay, this is the plan; this is how I do it—lunch is a must.  I always do my best planning eating over food, just like here at the clinic.  Plan-out our needs, plan-out time to introduce new skills.  We plan maintenance skills prior to workout.  So if we’re going to do med-ball cleans; we’re going to introduce it prior to the workout.  Or we’ll do it the day before.  They have not caught onto me yet or Cortney: if we’re doing med-ball clean skills on Wednesday morning, they don’t realize that it might come-up in the next couple of workouts.  But I’m actually kind of getting to that and making sure that they understand what type of work that we’re doing.


We go week-by-week.  We determine the intensity, skills, duration and the workouts.  We do constantly vary; they have no clue what’s coming.  Okay.  We don’t give them hints.  We don’t say well we are missing an endurance workout.  That may not come this week; it may not come next week.  So we kind of just plan…  we constantly vary all our workouts every week.


All right, our organized chaos.  This is how we started, and then we plan-out our season.  This is going into this summer’s Far Westerns.  This is some of the work that we did from June all the way until the end of July.


[Martellucci]:  Most of these workouts are on our CrossFit Kids website as well, so you can go back and see what we’ve done.


[Nabeta]:  This presentation is also on the Arden Hills website; the presentation has a link to our CrossFit Kids website where I post all of our workouts.  And some of my peers in my LSC actually going to go, and they will email me and ask me what the movement is.  And I’ll explain it to them.  I’m into sharing whatever we do at Arden Hills, and what I have.  I’m not saying that what we do is right or wrong, I just feel that it works for our team.


[audience member]:  What is the address of your site?


[Nabeta]:  It’s, and that’s in the presentation as well.


We present our workouts on big dry-erase boards.  So each group has different ways that I present it.  Our Senior group, we do a warm-up and then we go over agility work and then we go-ahead and do a workout.  So we have a warm-up up there.  We do 200 skips, we do some leg swings, do some Spiderman, and lunges, and also double-under work.  And then on that workout they went three minutes rowing 500 meters, and also max double-under amrap.


Our 11-14 year-olds, they’ll do a warm-up, they’ll do a skill, and then they’ll hit the workout.  And then 10&Unders, because they are pretty squirrely and they like awards; they like games at the end.  Our 10&Unders, they’ll do a warm-up, they’ll do a skill, they’ll do a workout and then they’ll finish with a game.  They love little games at the end.


And basically this is where Senior started in 2008, right here with all of these things right there.  Because the high schoolers started with CrossFit Kids, and we would do games.


And here are the games.  Cortney was awarded last night with that one.

  • CrossFit Baseball: We divide the teams into two. We have a buy-in.  We have movements at each base.  There are fun games for your teams; they’re fun for all age groups.  You determine the exercises at each base, and you split put them into two.  It’s a pretty interesting game.
  • CrossFit Dodgeball: No different than regular dodgeball, except for when you get hit by colored balls, you have to do what the exercise of the color ball is. And then they get to get back in—you don’t have to re-catch it.
  • CrossFit Cards—that is kind of long to explain.
  • And we also do MetCon Relays: whatever crazy kind of relay that you can create.


We like to do plate pushes, where we—my group—put 45-pound plates on a towel, yes on our basketball court.  And they do plate pushes across the basketball court.  There we go.


[inaudible audience comment]


So in CrossFit, a lot of what this movement is… when I do it outside, it’s a prowler push.  So basically, this will kill their calves; their calves will get be burning as well as their gluteus.  Their rear ends will.


Here’s your little kids.


[Martellucci]:  They are, I want to say, 8, 9, and 11.  The boys over there are a little stronger have 10-pound dumbbells, and the others have 5.  And this a relay, where they have to get out and od that five times, and stay together.  This is our very first day of dryland this year, so it’s not quite as together as we would be normally.  But they love dryland; they have a lot of fun.


[Nabeta]:  All right, so those are our games.


Here’s our retest and testing that we do.  I showed you that with Nick Johnson, Cathy Woo.  Karen is a 150 wall ball.  We like to row, so a lot of our rowing tests and retests are 500, 1,000 and 2,000 meters for time.


Depth by 10 meters is an endurance workout.  If you have a tennis court at your club, this is a great one.  From sideline to sideline of your tennis court, line-up your kids on the sideline.  Every minute on the minute, have them add 10 meters.  So they’ll go from one side to the other side, and they’ll think it’s boring at the beginning.  By the time two minutes, three minutes, four minutes, five minutes… by the time they get up to about twelve minutes they’re going 12 times back-and-forth within the minute.  Then at the thirteen minute they are running 13, 14… until they cannot go anymore and their legs feel like they are going to fall off.


Flight simulator.  I’ve only completed that once, and it’s not a very fun workout.  It’s double-unders, unbroken.  So 10 double-unders unbroken, then you go to 20, then you go to 30, 40, 50.  Every time you breakup a set you, you have to restart the number that you were on.  And you go all the way up to 100 and then come back down.


The hardest one that we have, that we do with our kids, is that work out right there called Fran.  The names Annie, Karen, Fran, they are hurricanes, okay; they are named after horrible things, and you feel that way.  So thrusters: 21 reps, 15 reps, 9 reps.  They do dumbbell thrusters and pull-ups, and it’s very high intensity.  For our kids, they use anywhere between 10-, 15- and 20-pound dumbbells, okay.  That’s light on CrossFit; the Fran-prescribed is a 135-pound thrusters, and regular pull-ups, okay.  My best time with Fran is 3:45, okay.  My kids doing thrusters and pull-ups, do about the same time or faster—if they are adequate at pull-ups.


We also do tests of 100 burpees for time to a 6-inch target.  So they will raise their hands, we’ll measure 6-inches above their hands.  So they will come down, and they will jump-up and touch the 6-inch target.


A lot of these workouts, such as Karen, the Burpees, Fran, we do a lot of the test during the short-course season.  Because with the amount of walls that we have, I want their leg-strength to be as powerful as we can get them, and be in great shape.


Taper WODs.  We realize that the kids, swimmers, definitely want to feel strong during taper.  The last couple of tapers, in the last two years prior, swimmers told me that they were sore all the time.  This Spring and Summer, I started coming-up with workouts that we were about seven days out, they felt strong.  Swimmers carry a positive mindset and feeling strong; we had less complaints of soreness during taper time.  And what we did, consideration for WODs: decreased overall intensity, maintain movement standards, and explosive movements with even lighter load.  So we were still moving.  We were still creating intensity, but just not as heavy.  So they weren’t as sore, but they felt strong.


And we tell them they’re doing a good job.  You know the kids like to hear is dryland is fun.  At the younger age, we probably get bigger attendance during dryland than some of the swim workouts.


(And we are back to movements.)


I appreciate you guys coming out.  I know that I said it during the presentation earlier: CrossFit can be scaled.  It’s not what you see on TV, okay; it really isn’t.  You guys need to understand that.


I was hesitant to present this.  John Leonard asked me, and I said, “You know, I do CrossFit with my swim team.”  And he said that would be great to talk about here.  And the more I thought about it, four months ago, I was like you know I really don’t want to talk about CrossFit.  Because all I hear from other people is like CrossFit will injure you, CrossFit will do this, CrossFit will do that, you’ll hate it and all of this stuff.  We have been working for five years at this, and if you see: we take care of our little kids.  We take care of them as they grow up from kindergarten all way up to being seniors in high school.  We watch every movement that they’re doing, and we scale them appropriately.  That’s important, okay.


I have been asked if kids have been hurt during CrossFit.  I had a kid trip on his way to CrossFit, and sprain his ankle.  Okay?  So they’ve been injured that way.  I had a kid forget to look at the flags; sprained his wrist on the wall, okay.  I try to keep as best eye I can on them, but the kids also have to pay attention to what they’re doing.  Not just in dryland, but in swimming.  So I lay a lot of responsibility on them as well.


[audience member]:  Are you guys actually a CrossFit affiliate?


[Nabeta]:  We are a CrossFit affiliate club.  On the far right-hand column of the main webpage, down at the bottom with Steve’s club.


[audience member]:  What is a double under?


[Nabeta]:  The rope goes under their feet twice.


[audience member]:  Do you do competition burpees (chest-to-ground) or does it matter?


[Martellucci]:  Yes; the chest must touch the ground.


Are there any other movements you guys aren’t clear about?


[audience member]:  This is a question for Brian.  With the Senior group can you talk a little bit about testing and tracking.  Is it formal or informal?  Do they do it?  Do you do it?


[Nabeta]:  I track their… they don’t know I’m recording everything down.  I take pictures and I go home; I take pictures of the workout results and then I take it home and I put it on an Excel sheet.


[audience]:  Can they monitor their development?


[Nabeta]:  Yes.  They will ask me what they did before.  And the majority of the time, if they are at the workout… like I’ll have one or two that miss a morning and they won’t be there.  But I’ll let them know how fast they’ve gone.  Similar to like the 3,000 for time, in the afternoon or something—10×300.


[audience member]:  Do you think it’s still beneficial enough to present to people who are injury prone?


[Nabeta]:  I believe so.  I mean the scaling of our workouts to make their shoulders stronger, and doing presses with 5-pound, 7.5-pound, 10-pound dumbbells.  I believe it has.  We actually have rehabilitated my Junior National 200 flyer who… Nolan Rogers is in here.  He had shoulder issues, we started doing CrossFit and Matt Spallas has not had any shoulder issues.  We actually have made him stronger in areas where he needed to be stronger at.


[audience member]:  Do you do stretching before and after your practice?


[Nabeta]:   We do a lot during the beginning of the workouts.  A lot of it came from like I said the NSCA trainers.  I took a lot of their stretching and a lot of their warm-up.  And dynamic warm-up and agility warm-up, and then we do the workouts.  So I actually took from them… I learned from them more than they learned from me.


Any other questions?  Yes.


[audience member]:  How long is your dryland session?


[Nabeta]:  Our dryland session will depend on our planning—seasonal planning.  Some WODs are an hour, some are 30 minutes.  Depending on… like if we do Annie, Annie is only is 50-40-30-20-10 of double-unders and sit-ups.  That workout, for that one little girl, Cathy, only took her 5:01 to do it.  So if we warm-up, do Annie; we’re done within a half an hour.


There was another one over here.  Yes?


[audience member]:  So do they do this and then go in the pool?


[Nabeta]:   Yes, we do it in the morning.  When they get into the pool, our main emphasis in the pool after a CrossFit workout is all technique-based.  We do active-recovery swimming with technique.  Cortney covers the short-axis kids in the morning, I go with the longer-axis kids; and all we do is stroke technique.  And we go between 2,000 and 3,000 yards after it.  They’re fatigued and we are working on good skills, while they are tired.


[audience member]:  What about with the 10&Unders?


[Martellucci]:  10&Unders, they do dryland twice a week.  Depending on which group they’re in, they may go Monday-Friday or Wednesday-Saturday.  And they go 45 minutes to an hour of dryland, and then we go to the pool for the last 30-45 minutes—it just depends on we spend on dryland.  And when I do it, we’ll do a look of drill work that day; we’ll do kicking on their back. Because they’re body’s tired from the CrossFit.  And I feel like, as a coach, I don’t give them much time on their back.  And then I try to end with sprints.


[audience member]:  Are you two the only coaches that are doing this on your team?  Or do you monitor the other coaches dryland?


[Nabeta]:  Yes we monitor what the other coaches are doing; we do staff training.  My goal is to get all of my staff down to the CrossFit Kids so that they have even-more in-depth idea of what we’re trying to get them to.  But we incorporate a lot of teaching to our staff in order for them to understand what the movements are when their kids are going through CrossFit.   Like my pre-Senior group goes Monday-Wednesday morning, Thursday afternoon.  So they will know exactly what the movement standards are on those mornings and afternoon.


[audience member]:  What do you set the baseline for the 2K in your plan?  What’s the length of time before you test again?


[Nabeta]:   Our 2K, when I was charting it out, was once in the Fall, once in January, and once in March.  And then we did one more in the middle of summer, and I didn’t date it, so it was kind of off.  Alright


Any other questions?  Thank you very much for coming out.



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