Mike G and Ken Gall Games prep

March 6, 2009 11:00 AM

Posted in Regionals »
41 Comments » on this entry

CFAtlantaSDHPRingDip_th.jpgEnlarge image

Mike G and Ken Gall from CrossFit Atlanta take on 7 rounds for time of:
10 Ring dips

This may look familiar because Freddy C and OPT did the same workout back in 2007. But the game is tighter now, and both these guys smoked OPT and Freddy from back in the day.

Mike and Ken train together frequently, and push each other hard. Blistering performances both of them. Damn, that Dirty South competition is going to be tough!

CrossFit Atlanta Games prep video ... [wmv] [mov]

41 comments on this entry.

1. Chris H. wrote...

March 6, 2009 11:20 AM

Very impressive video, but I think the ROM that OPT and Freddy were showing on the SDHPs was significantly better than that shown by Mike and Ken.

Just my 2 cents, this coming from someone who can't come close to touching any of these times.

2. Sean wrote...

March 6, 2009 12:32 PM

Smoking quick times... but elbows/forearms were often (almost always) BELOW the bar on the hi pulls.

If people are going to nit-pick about form on the videos for folks that are highlighted/featured as potential qualifiers for the games, then...


That said:
Congrats for getting through the WOD in sub-4:00 and good luck in the Regionals!

3. David K. wrote...

March 6, 2009 1:51 PM

GR8T JOB FELLAS!!! Sub-4 is a really good time. MONSTROUS!!

4. Zach @ CFLV wrote...

March 6, 2009 4:34 PM

I'm actually appalled. Don't post stuff like this on the games website...there's no way these reps would ever count during competition (at least, I hope not).

Go read "Virtuosity" by Greg Glassman. That's all I got.

5. TomC wrote...

March 6, 2009 4:54 PM

To those that feel the need to constantly point out whatever small form issues may exist in these videos, please consider giving it a rest. Those dudes just did a lot of work in a short time. Was every rep perfect? No. How many people can come close to what they did? Very few. Words like "appalled" hardly seem to fit. Impressed would be more like it.

To Mike and Ken from Atlanta - strong work.

6. silverback wrote...

March 6, 2009 5:52 PM

I think it's agreed that form may decay in sake of intensity. Does every clean need to be picture perfect? If back posture suffers during thrusters, risk of injury aside, does it really matter? As long as the exercise gets from point A to point B, we consider it reaching full ROM. Look at "Grace" for example. But WHY do well allow a loose standard for ROM? Every distance allowance changes the work required to finish the workout. We don't run 375 meters when it calls for 400 do we? Why not? It's close and I'll be more intense. Someone please explain to me why we can't at least uphold that standard. These guys are studs, no question but I would never show that video to demostrate SDLHP's or ring dips.

7. Pat Barber wrote...

March 6, 2009 6:07 PM

What reps are you talking about not counting???? they pulled to their chin and opened their hips.... im not seeing anything appalling about that performance. I mean maybe a few ringdips were close to not being counted but other than that i see nothing... Good Job mike and Ken

8. Zach @ CFLV wrote...

March 6, 2009 7:59 PM

The reason I used the word "appalled" was because their form was just that...appaling.

Was it an impressive display of intensity and work capacity? Probably. Is it something I want displayed to a novice CrossFiter? No. Is it something we should showcase and covet as a community? No.

The fact is, taking a movement from point A to point B is one thing. Doing it correctly is another. I'm never impressed by someone who can deadlift 500lbs. if he arches his back like a cat.

The workout calls for SDHPs...Not "take the bar from the ground to your chin." Just like "Grace" calls for "Clean and Jerk"...not "two-hands anyhow." I'm sick of people looking for shortcuts in workouts to make their times faster.

Don't look for shortcuts in the movement...just get more fit, damnit.

9. TonyB wrote...

March 6, 2009 9:20 PM

I think it's time for you to send in a workout video for the world to see. My money is on you never sending one in because I don't know a single person who puts their heart on the line in workouts and doesn't recognize it in others.

You've misunderstood Coach's virtuosity article. If we were to take your advice, you'd stop people from clearing rubble in an earthquake to free buried victims because their technique was flawed. Virtuosity is to be strived for always, and at the same time, real output at the limits of human capacity always has imperfections.

You put a link to your site. On it, you have athletes shown with imperfect form (a neck cranked in a back squat, elbows too low and hips swayed forward in a KB SDHP). Of course you do. And you're praising them on the site. Of course you are. You should.

Your posturing here is inconsistent with what you do at home and it makes you look foolish.

10. Pat Sherwood wrote...

March 6, 2009 9:47 PM

Solid work boys!! Keep it up. You are training exactly as you should.

11. James H wrote...

March 6, 2009 9:48 PM

Nope. Their form is not perfect. Should it have been?

I think many Crossfitters (and, perhaps, even some higher-ups at CFHQ) could firmly and rightfully argue that Mike G and Ken were "[getting] more fit". Crossfit doesn't ask us to move perfectly all of the time, nor does it demand that we toss prudence to the wind and go as hard/ugly as hell until we puke. Form begets function to a point. A PR deadlift will likely deviate from what we teach clients to do with a nifty little piece of PVC pipe. And let's be bold: many of the top finishers at last years games likely wouldn't be numbers 1-5 if they didn't sacrifice some (some) form for more intensity.

Initially, it might not be wise to ask beginners to emulate either of this guys, but I would be glad to see any athlete I have trained to develop the quality work capacity of Mike or Ken--Yes, I said, "quality".

Why don't we try and be a tad more constructive and ask, "I wonder how overall fitness would change if we got every rep as close to perfect as we could?" To say that their form was appalling, is an egregious abuse of the luxury we have of playing backseat driver.

12. Zach @ CFLV wrote...

March 6, 2009 10:36 PM

Ok, I'm not going to be the stubborn jack ass that digs his heels in and argues to his last breath...

But I do have a response, Tony.

Will I ever send in a video of myself? Probably not. Just not on the priority list (but feel free to come out to Vegas if you'd like me to do "Fran" for ya).

Your analogy of earthquake victims is a stretch. In a situation where someone's life is at risk, you're going to do whatever is necessary to get the job done. Does that mean you train that way? Absolutely not.

You train correct movement patterns. Always. You train to pull that gun from the holster the same way, every time. Why? Because when shit goes wrong, you have to rely on yourself to do it the right way. Does that mean you will? No.

My point is, these guys didn't show consistently good technique on the SDHP at any point during the workout.

You are right about the pictures of our athletes on the site. There form isn't perfect. You are right in saying that the limits of human capacity will always have mperfections. No PR or max lift is perfect. What frustrates me is the fact that athletes of this high of caliber show such poor technique right from the beginning of the workout! There form doesn't degrade as they fatigue...it starts that way!

C'mon Tony...please don't defend poor technique just because awesome intensity and power output are there. Mike and Ken deserve better.

13. TonyB wrote...

March 7, 2009 5:10 AM

Stubbornness aside, technique is not the goal. Work and work capacity are the goals. Technique is only useful to the degree that it helps work output. It makes no sense to defend technique independent of improved work.

Ironically, perhaps, you and I probably wouldn't disagree about how to coach them. I didn't see a coach in the video. I know I would be yelling at them to keep the same output while keeping the elbows higher and maximizing ROM on the dips.

The reason I engaged you is because you're being an ass. I'm not defending poor technique. I'm recognizing phenomenal work output and tremendous athleticism. Do you think I didn't see the imperfections? Of course I saw them. But for you to come on and be only critical of the imperfections is both inconsistent with the spirit of CrossFit and simply misguided.

Sending a video not a priority? Did you see the Kevin Montoya video? He put a cheap camera on a tripod, hit record, worked out, and sent in the raw footage. If you're working out anyway, you're talking about an additional 2-3min of effort plus the upload time. And really, I don't care about your Fran. My point was that folks who are only critical in public of workouts like this one rarely have the integrity to put themselves in the public light.

14. James wrote...

March 7, 2009 5:55 AM

Quit spending so much time breaking down form of the athletes in these videos. A simple, "Great job, keep up the good work," would be appropriate. Most of the athletes on the Games site are level 2 and level 3 certified which implies they are well aware of correct form and dont need criticism on a public forum. That's what their coaches are for.

I would NEVER post a video of one of my athletes on here because I dont want the community to rip them apart. I am their trainer and I will critique them in a private setting.

Tony and Pat, thanks for your comments. Lets try to discourage fellow crossfitters from condescending and inappropriate comments about videos.

Ken and Mike G, Great job keep up the good work! I'll drop by and we'll hit a WOD soon.

15. Micah -D wrote...

March 7, 2009 6:23 AM

Man, some of these comments ripping these athletes really discourages me. When I try to introduce someone new into Crossfit one of the main things I say is that this is a very supportive community, that is certainly not what is being displayed here. There is nothing wrong with busting your balls and losing a little bit of ROM. The one place where ROM really matters is at the games and we wont have to worry about it there cause each athlete will have a judge watching every rep. Lets be a supportive community. I would never post a video on here because everyone would just look for the tiniest thing to rip on.
Ken and Mike, solid work.
Mike I live in South Atlanta I was wondering if I could come up to your gym and do a WOD with you.

16. Chris H. wrote...

March 7, 2009 7:14 AM

Ladies and gents, I think that everyone here agrees that these videos all show tremendous effort and incredible athleticism.

With that said, I think it is a disservice to the Crossfit community to say that Mike and Ken "smoked OPT and Freddy" when clearly the athletes are not being held to the same standard. The whole point of standards is that it gives us an objective measure by which we can compare performances. IMHO, these performances are not directly comparable in the same way that chin-over-bar Fran is not comparable to chest-to-bar Fran.

Crossfit has always been to forgiving of small form errors at high intensity as they are inevitable, but objective standards are not to be messed with if you want to compare apples to apples.

TonyB, Pat, and the others, if you really can't see how OPT and Freddy's ROM was better, I will splice the two videos to show them side by side. There are many reps in which you can see Mike and Ken's elbows below the bar. You may disagree, but to me those reps should not be counted in a competition.

I also want to be clear that no one is attacking the athletes themselves when we make comments regarding the standards to which reps are performed and I want to reiterate that I am not belittling a very impressive performance by Mike and Ken.

17. Zach @ CFLV wrote...

March 7, 2009 8:12 AM

I was never trying to be an ass. I apologize for that. I've never posted my frustration about ROM and technique issues about the highlighted athletes (here or on the main site) and I think my initial post a result of was the "steam that blew the lid off the pot."

Tony, thank you for holding legitimate discussion with me. You're right about coaching them during the workout...I would have been screaming.

I think I would have been less ill-received had my first post been more like Chris H's. That's all I was trying to accomplish.

18. silverback wrote...

March 7, 2009 8:28 AM

Chris, Very well said. To me, it's all about standards. ROM is the only argument I make here. I think at least we should be upholding it. Our best athletes are certainly capable of it. I don't see these athletes being attacked and the criticism is constructive. I personally love feedback on what I do, positive or negative. Helps me become a better athlete. Most people admit that these guys would smoke them on these workouts. We know how dominant they are and I think that's why we expect to see them do things so well. Tony and Zach, shake hands please. Points of view are often misunderstood in keyboard conversations. Many of us are coaches and even coaches will agree to disagree. Hey, I'd love to send in a video. I just did chest to bar Fran yesterday. Every rep was full ROM, no question marks.

19. D. CROOKs wrote...

March 7, 2009 10:49 PM

Smokin' boys. Keep up the hard work.

20. travis-crossfiteastsac wrote...

March 7, 2009 11:12 PM

blistering, blistering output. as far as work capacity goes, thats the real deal right there, jesus. those boys were moving both weight and their bodies real real fast. yeah it bums me out to see a badass coach like mike g pull every single rep early from the floor, but i think that we're losing sight of the fact that he could do that 70 times, plus 70 pretty fuckin legit ring dips in under 4 minutes.

does any one else realize that its actually harder on the muscles and the nervous system to do it wrong that fast? thats incredible in and of itself. would mike tell someone to move like that? no. would he encourage someone to move that fast? hell yeah. will mike and ken be better at the games because they can move that fast? you better fuckin believe. guaranteed, mike and ken's form doesn't look like that at the games, but at the same time i would bet that their output will be very similar.

21. ken c wrote...

March 8, 2009 6:51 AM


man i know you are a totally legit firebreathing crossfitter. i could see that at the gymnastics cert in vegas but i have to agree with tony on you being a bit misguided here. FORM is not the thing to be concerned about in a max effort. RANGE OF MOTION is. if someone pulls 500lbs off the ground, who cares if their back looks like a cat? (i'm not talking about training a beginner here) max efforts don't always look pretty but as long as they pass through a full range of motion it's legit.

i would be less concerned about their elbows not being above the bar than i would be about their heads being pointed down so the bar has less distance to reach their chin. but then we're talking about inches. would it have made a difference in their times to pull an inch or two higher? probably but only by a few seconds. mike's and ken's work capacity and power output were tremendous.


zach seems like a top notch guy and a damn strong crossfitter. he was a gracious host for the gymnastics cert we had out in vegas. if he sent in a video i think you would be impressed. i'd like to see it too.

22. Ken Gall wrote...

March 8, 2009 5:48 PM

All - thanks a bunch for the comments. Just had the chance to see the video for the first time on here. I really appreciate the criticism of form and also the praise of intensity. Thanks so much. I agree my form on SDHPs was a bit coarse from the start - it was great to see on video. I tend to pull early and my elbows sneak down on me - especially when I am trying to go real fast. I do the same on cleans, but I have been improving. Old habits die hard! As far as ROM we aimed for between mid-chest and chin, which was the standard for SDHP at the SE challenge. Chin is a tough standard since you tend to move your head around..or look down to touch the bar.

Zach: Although I am not as appalled by the form as you were, and your delivery was overkill, i can see where my form needs improvement, so overall point taken. Anyway, I'll be back at your pad the 19th and 20th of this month we can settle it like the old west with a workout showdown, for video, of course! That way people can compare our form and intensity side by side!

23. mark Lee wrote...

March 8, 2009 8:05 PM

I for one eagerly await "The Las Vegas Showdown"

24. Zach @ CFLV wrote...

March 8, 2009 10:53 PM

See that? That's what I get for opening my big mouth on the internet...

Now I'm forced to put my money where my mouth is. I hope you show me up and I learn my lesson, Ken G.

25. Chuck Carswell wrote...

March 9, 2009 1:51 AM

Probably not a chance we could restructure the The Dirty South, huh? Could we add a few more spots? Go from 7 spots to say.....21? Thought I'd ask?

Nice Work Fellas!

26. ken c wrote...

March 9, 2009 4:41 AM

just don't do fran guys. tired of watching fran.

27. Ken Gall wrote...

March 9, 2009 5:40 AM


Thanks for the response. Here is my proposal. Since neither of us competed in the 2008 games, lets just do the 2008 games workouts. This way the standards are fair, and very clear cut, we have a relative comparison base, and everyone can watch some other WODs aside from Fran! Plus I think it is better to compete across a couple of different WODs rather than just one. We could do the first three workouts Wed, March 18th, and the final one the morning of Thursday, March 19th.

Tony B - If you (or someone on your staff) are (is) available to film, and can make it, I will personally pay your (their) flight and room for the night.

28. MikeG_CFATL wrote...

March 9, 2009 8:47 AM

Thanks for all the praise and criticism. Both make us better athletes. As for the Vegas Challenge, I would be up for that. If I can make it out there, I would love to be a part of that.

29. Travis wrote...

March 9, 2009 9:08 PM

I was present for 2 or 3 of the workouts Ken did while in Las Vegas and there is no doubt he is a solid athlete and an experienced Crossfitter. From what of saw of Ken in person and the Video posted on this site, it doesn't even look like the same guy. Ken is way more capable of doing those movements the way they should be done with high intensity.

30. Josh wrote...

March 10, 2009 10:19 AM

Look, I usually don't get involved in online forums, comments, etc. But when a member of CFHQ endorses improper form and says things like "technique is only useful to the degree that it helps work output," I start questioning the true methodology of Crossfit.

In an analogy that makes sense in my head, if a snowboarder, in competition, hucks a backside 1080, no matter how clean and stylish it looks, if he doesn't stick the landing clean, it doesn't count. Bottom line. Sure, he gets praised for attempting it, and people cheer him on, but it DOESN'T count. He goes back to training, and tries it again and again until he can stick it. He doesn't say, oh well I can KIND OF get it in training, so that's good enough.

Crossfit is a TRAINING program. The earthquake and clearing rubble analogy is rubbish. The scenario would be more like, Gee, I'd really like to help save lives and clear this rubble, but I screwed up my back lifting improperly during my last workout just to have a fast time or a heavier weight. For what? What's the end result? I thought Crossfit is the training program that people use to get better at other things? General Physical Preparedness?

No doubt, these guys hauled ass through this workout. I give them a ton of credit! But let's be careful how much we endorse improper form. It's a fine line and a slippery slope.

Just my two cents...

31. LachlanCFNA wrote...

March 10, 2009 11:47 AM

"From what [I] saw of Ken in person and the Video posted on this site, it doesn't even look like the same guy" - Travis

Is that why Zach, who met Ken at the same time as Travis, was such a massive douche about him on this forum? Because he did not recognize him?

What I want to know is if Zach is going to man up, put his money where his big-fat-internet-mouth is, and accept the challenge.

32. Rue wrote...

March 10, 2009 12:20 PM

This has gone from debate to pissing contest. I know Zach and he is a legit stand up guy and a hell of an athlete. I think this has by far gone astray from the crossfit communities standard form of discussion and more into a street brawl.

My belief technique and form should be held up to the highest standard while training and when it comes down to competition it is balls to the wall and flat out performance, while trying to maintain the best possible form.

If we go by games standards a lot of the "well known" crossfitters got away with more (form wise) then the unknown athletes competing.

33. Jared wrote...

March 10, 2009 12:51 PM

I have to first off commend zach for standing up and questioning form amongst others who would never dare do the same. Are we so concerned with times in crossfit according to Tony B's comment that "Technique is not the goal, work and work capacity are" that we will take any measure to achieve them.

Crossfit is supposed to have strayed far from the musclehead concepts resonating in 'globo gyms' across America where it only matters how much weight you can push, no matter the form or grunts it takes. I feel, after some of the comments from the elite crossfitters, that crossfit is now just another musclehead sport except instead of worrying about weight it just worries about faster times at the expense of losing form. An easy example is some of the Fran videos of people barely doing head to bar pull-ups but doing sub 2:20. Ultimately you're not doing Fran, you're just completeing some modified form of thrusters and half pull-ups to appear like a badass.

Question: Does Michael Phelps skimp on form at his highest level of output in route to 8 gold medals? No, because if he did the guy .2 seconds behind him would take the lead. Does Lebron crucify his shooting coach because he said his form was bad last season? No, he went to the gym, shot 800 shots a day with proper form and now has one of the highest percentages of 3-point shooting this season.

34. Leah wrote...

March 10, 2009 4:17 PM

Great intensity! However, my FIRST thought watching this BEFORE reading these comments was, "Wow that guy on the left is not pulling those SDHP's nearly high enough." Maybe it's the camera, but he doesn't look upright at the top of each rep. Form is the foundation and when it degrades in round 2 I stop watching.

35. Ken Gall wrote...

March 10, 2009 4:56 PM

I think the debate on form and intensity will continue forever, which is good, keeps us pushing in both arena's.

And honestly, Zach, others, you can critique my form or intensity all you want. Especially if you want to provide specific advice on things I can improve on, I am all ears. I am still not clear on precisely what was appalling about my form, but Zach, I plan to hear your opinion in person next week. I mush prefer debating in person over the internet, easier to really learn from each other. I will be there Wed.

36. Tony Bologna wrote...

March 10, 2009 6:47 PM

1. Those dudes smoked that wod regardless of form. im sure with proper form they could have done it just as fast.

2. Nobody's form is perfect every rep of every wod. everybody sacrifices form for intesity.

3. SDHP- My personal opinion--I'm not certified in anything, and I'll base this off of research from exercising books from the last 20 years. I think you should have your elbows above your hands no matter what, and I, personally, think you should only have to go chest high, at, or just above the nipple line. No less, no more. I think anything higher than that is an unnatural movement for your shoulders with your elbows in the proper position, and anything less isn't full range of motion. Took that out of the books, discussions with fellow CFer's, and from experience. Your shoulders are easy to injure, and not very easy to rehab quickly. not something you want to mess up. IMHO.

4. refer back up to 1.

37. Zach @ CFLV wrote...

March 10, 2009 7:31 PM

Ken, just so we are clear...I applauded your intensity. Was truly a great display of mental fortitude to be able to push that hard. I just had a few gripes about the form.

I completely agree about speaking in person. Certain things get lost through the internet...I will be more than happy to discuss it with you when you arrive next week.

38. Ken Gall wrote...

March 11, 2009 2:57 PM

Zach - thanks. I will see you next week....

39. Craig wrote...

March 31, 2009 12:23 PM

So....what was the outcome of Ken meeting Zach @ CFLV?

40. Twall wrote...

April 24, 2009 1:24 PM

I think that both Mike and Ken did a great job! Keep up the good work guys and good luck and the qualifications and the games.

41. matt baird wrote...

April 28, 2009 8:52 AM

Technique is always the goal, time is irrelevant. Yes, we all train crossfit to increase workout capacity, and therefore our intensity must and does increase. Yet,to forsake technique for time is counterproductive. The truest and more importantly, most productive and efficient cross fitters are ones whose technique satisfies full range of motion, while keeping a fire-breathing pace. When the body is tired, it compensates, and kinetic economy takes over, it is our job as athletes to fight this and make sure our technique stays the same, and hopefully this doesn't negatively effect out time.