Onward and Upward: Top 3 Tips to Maximize Your Deadlifts

Morning C2 community!

People tend to have polarized feelings about deadlifts. Either they love them or they hate them. If you love deadlifts this is usually for one of three potential reasons. 

You already pull heavy weight. You are considered “strong” or “really good at that” so you enjoy doing it more. Yay dopamine!

Maybe you are favorably built for deadlifts with relatively shorter legs, a relatively longer torso, and long arms. (Ape index off the charts!) You seem to PR every time you walk into the gym.

It’s also possible that you grew up on a farm and have been lugging hay bales and drinking raw milk your whole life. Lifting heavy sh*% is a walk in the park for you.

If you don’t fall into one of those categories then there is still hope. Let’s explore the top 3 tips to maximize your deadlifts!

  1. Ditch the Mixed Grip
  2. Dial in Your Setup Position
  3. Train Deadlift Variations

1.Ditch the Mixed Grip

One of the best ways to start improving your deadlift is to ditch the mixed grip. Many people worry that grip will be a limiting factor at their maximal percentage lifts but you can easily overcome this by implementing a hook grip. This takes some getting used to since you’ve probably never lifted a bar of this weight with a hook grip and the pressure can seem unreal. Try taping your thumbs the first few sessions to take some of the edge off. The benefits of a double overhand grip is better position on the bar, less torque on the hips and spine, and decreased strain on the bicep. Build up this strength in your training sessions and if you really need to resort to a mixed grip for a competition or 1RM attempt then you will be better for waiting.

2. Dial in Your Setup Position

One of the biggest issues you may be facing with deadlifts is the setup. That first pull off the ground never feels quite right. To overcome this you can practice rolling the bar into position. This may feel more comfortable and your body will naturally find the right position without you fidgeting around. If you are new to lifting or know that your mobility is lacking then you may find it beneficial to practice pulling off of blocks. The higher start position will make it easier for you to engage your posterior chain. Another good option here is to work from the top down with lighter loads. Take the loaded bar from a rack or higher blocks and start standing tall, hips fully extended. Keeping your back and core tight and start pushing your hips toward the wall behind you as the bar descends down your thighs. Keep the bar in contact with your legs and the weight in the middle of your foot and heels. Practice lowering down in a slow control fashion taking 4-5 seconds to lower for each rep. If you have a hard time finding the right position then you should take some one on one time to work with a coach who can provide the right cues to get you properly set up.

3. Train Deadlift Variations

Another way to build confidence in your deadlift is to explore different deadlift variations. Sumo deadlifts, single arm, single leg, trap bar, dumbbells, kettlebells, and dballs will all help you. Getting stronger is going to help even if it is non specific. There’s no shortage of heavy stuff to pick up off the ground! These variations will train your grip, stabilizers, and strengthen many smaller muscles of the glutes and hamstrings that may not get fully recruited in your normal deadlift style. 

There you go, the top 3 tips to maximize your deadlifts.


Onward and Upward: Mindset & Performance

How Your Mindset Affects Performance

There is a lot going on when you step on to that lifting platform or competition floor. Some days you feel strong and focused. Others you can’t quite seem able to connect the dots. You feel slow and foggy or the weight feels heavy.

The mind and body are in constant fluctuation. Our thoughts can instantly change our physiology. Just think of a time when your were made or scared. Your muscles tensed, heart rate quickened, and pupils dilated ready to react.

And the converse is just as true. Our body influences our mental state and thoughts. Think about how chill and carefree you feel after a long walk in nature or how amped you get when exercising or dancing to your favorite song.

Controlling the stressors and other stimuli in your environment is essential when it comes to controlling your mind and body for performance. Stress can have significant impact on performance and can seriously get in the way of your competitive goals if you don’t have a strategy to manage it.

Let’s take a look at why stress is so damaging to performance and some key strategies to combat it…

The Cortisol/Testosterone Relationship

A study of 109 male olympic weightlifters was set up to determine the effects of cortisol as a moderator of the relationship between testosterone and performance in olympic lifting. The study measured pre and post levels of serum cortisol and testosterone to see if there was any effect on performance. It turns out that pre-competition levels of cortisol or testosterone had a significant effect on olympic weightlifting performance. The inverse relationship between testosterone and cortisol shows that the level of stress an athlete experiences before training or competition can significantly impact their testosterone levels and subsequent performance.

Whoop Dee Doo. But what does it all mean Basil?!

Getting stressed about before a competition or intense training session is a surefire way to negatively impact performance. There are several techniques you can utilize to prepare your mind making it an asset rather than a liability. Top athletes all develop their mental game through practices involving goal setting, visualization, and routines.

“The Ultimate Measure Of A Man Is Not Where He Stands In Moments Of Comfort And Convenience, But Where He Stands At Times Of Challenge And Controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Goal Setting

Goal setting is essential to achieving any specific outcome you want in life. When you focus on a specific outcome your mind will constantly be searching for ways to bring the object of focus into being. That can be for the good or the bad. Say you are a weightlifter competing in your first meet. You should set a goal involving the successful completion of a lift at a weight you feel optimistic you can hit. When you set this metric for success you will be determined to achieve the outcome and take confident action towards achieving it. Odds are you will outperform your goal and be able to raise the bar for your next meet.


Visualization is the formation of a mental image. As an athlete you want to visualize a successful outcome you desire. Picture yourself achieving your goals with as much detail as possible. From the clothes you are wearing to the sound of the crowd. The way you move, powerful and strong. The sweat on your brow and the heartbeat in your chest. When you get to gameday it will feel like you’ve been there before. Visualization of success also lends itself to positive self talk that will reinforce your mindset and confidence when it comes to competition.


Routines are extremely useful when it comes to athletes and performance. They help reduce decision fatigue and providing fewer distractions and less to think about on game day. Decide ahead of time your warmup, clothing, equipment, music, and anything else you would use in competition. Practice with it and make it comfortable and familiar. One important consideration with routines is not to get too superstitious or hung up on these items being responsible for your success. You and only you are responsible for your success. Not your lucky sneakers…

If you want to accomplish your goals working with a professional coach is one of the best ways to develop a strategy and system for results. If you want to work with someone to help you create a game plan for your fitness goals get in touch with one of our qualified coaches for a free consult and discussion on how we can help you!

Talk to one of our world class coaches today!

Educate.Motivate.Inspire: ‘Ordinary’

From Coach Zack-

The more I thought about what to write the moreI went down a rabbit hole of quasi inspiration/motivation jargon that we’ve all heard before. I was searching for something profound that seeped deep into the soul; a radical candor that each person reading these words would walk away with that “Ah ha” life transforming moment. Yet, every word that spilled out seemed to be ordinary at best.

Ordinary, something so simple but often misunderstood. Webster describes ordinary as “of a kind to be expected in the normal order of events”, “usual” or “routine”. Too often, we rush past the ordinary for mountain top experiences. We’ve all been there: getting the new job promotion, watching your baby begin to take on the world, losing 15 lbs and fitting into those jeans that have been hanging in the back of the closet. Or how about the vacation that we anticipated for months. The list is infinite but the feeling is finite.

The problem with “Mountain-TopExperiences” is they are fleeting in nature, temporary. Then, as life would have it we are back to the ordinary. But what is ordinary? If we peer into the Latin root of the word itself ordinary is the same root that gives us the word order. Order is no menial task, if you want to challenge that opinion just step into a 5:30pm class on aTuesday afternoon and try your hand at coaching.

Zeno, quoted in Diogenes Laertius, wrote, “Well-being is realized by small steps, but is truly no small thing.” Small everyday steps, the ordinary, is what brings us to well being.

• Moms, it’s making sure that the kids are taken care of each and every day. Without you doing the ordinary task of life all ‘hell’ would break loose.

• Dads, it’s about being the rock in our family, the constant, without you chaos would roam free.

• Student, it’s about taking what seems to be another meaningless note in class, the grades will pay off in the end.

• “CrossFitter”, it’s about going through a 9minute EMOM of holds for :30 a piece (it’s ok to cuss Mike in your head while you’re doing them).

Don’t underestimate the beauty in the ordinary.

The ordinary that we see every single day we walk in the box.

The ordinary that lifts spirits and puts smile s on faces.

The ordinary when Kristin genuinely ask how my day is going every time I see her.

The ordinary in Mike saying “Happy (fill in the day of the week)”. It really does make me happier.

The ordinary in Kell(i) saying “What’s up Whitt, you ready for it today?”…No, not really Kelli, but I am now because of those words.

The ordinary in Hoctor screaming “ALL DAY!” Every time someone goes for a big lift. I’m convinced when he’s in the room everyone’s PR goes up 5 lbs.

The ordinary in Jenny Beard coming in giving me a hug or high five before every class she’s in.

The ordinary in Michelle genuinely giving me pointers just because she wants to see everyone get better each day.

The ordinary in small conversations with Damon and Katlin in the box turning into friendships outside of the hour we workout.

Maybe what I’m learning as a chase this mythological creature, this radical candor of Mountain-Top Experiences is: It’s in the ordinary that we grow together. Make no mistake: each word, each smile, each high five is a culmination or ordinary events that impacts my life, your life, on a grander scale.

What seems to be the most ordinary is often the most profound

  • Coach Zack


Educate.Motivate.Inspire: “More Vulnerable”

By Katie Carpenter

For those who don’t know, I coach our C2 kids class on the weekends.  On Saturday mornings I’m pretty sure my name is “CoachKatieCoachKatieCoachKatie”

One of my (yes, they are all mine for 1 hour a week) kids recently would get incredibly frustrated if he didn’t understand the movement immediately or didn’t already know it.  “I can’t do it” would come out of his mouth before he even tried and man would he get outwardly frustrated.  How many times do we tell ourselves that exact story either in the gym, at home, at work?

The behavior of this young human got me thinking.  How many times have I said to myself “I’ve always been bad at…” “I’ll never be good at….”  Why?  Because I try to work on it for a few days and when I don’t get the results I’m looking for I’m suddenly just not good at something?  Because I can stay consistent with my new idea for a few days but then external factors come into play and I can’t keep up with what I’ve told myself? What a cop out!  The reality is I wasn’t ready to put in the work in the area to be better at it, it’s easier to tell myself I’ll just never be good at it.

I’m still not great at (there I go again) holding myself accountable with internal positive talk.  This is one of my goals for this year.  I meet monthly with an accountability group formed by like minded people always looking to become better versions of ourselves.  As humans, we don’t want to disappoint others but typically have no problem disappointing ourselves.  These people call me out on my crap, we talk through each others barriers and most of the time it comes down to the fact that we’re our own barrier. 

What’s the story you are telling yourself?  What story do you want to be telling yourself?

Educate.Motivate.Inspire: ‘My Mat, My Practice’

I knew I was competitive. I knew I was willing to do work to improve but I didn’t understand what personal growth outside of my fitness level needed improving. CrossFit illuminated the first two of these immediately. “Growth” took CrossFit a bit longer to teach me. I am hard-headed.

I wanted to be the best “cross-fitter” in comparison to everyone around me. I was driven to train to the point of destruction to do just that. I was so focused on everyone else thatI couldn’t hear what my own body was telling me. Turns out, if you don’t listen to your body it keeps yelling louder and louder until you are forced to listen.

Blowing up my L5, S1 disc saved my life (we all know I am a bit dramatic so stay with me).When I came out of surgery I was told I would never Crossfit again. Fitness/Crossfit is my identity. I cried (but my fake eyelashes wouldn’t stay on so I had to stop the crying). I had to define who I was without fitness. There was a storm of thoughts swirling in my head, but that story is for another time. What I want to share with you is what came out of the storm.

Clarity. I began to understand growth as a whole body and mind concept. I believed the way to grow in fitness was through training alone. I was wrong. What I needed to grow at this point in my life was completely different than what I needed before my injury. What defines growth changes with time. Growth in fitness became so personal for me because I was going through this alone. I began to understand that all growth whether physical, mental, or spiritual was only valuable if it was positively influenced by those around me. I was on my “path” right next to others and celebrate their “paths” even though they were different. This is when I adopted the phrase “My Mat, My Practice”. I didn’t have to try to be who I was before I was injured. I saw my “path” with fresh eyes. I reassessed what was important to me, why I loved fitness, why I love to coach, how I could impact others and how I could learn and share what seemed to be a disaster. I fell in love with fitness and Crossfit all over again but in a way that felt more fulfilling.

I had to be my own best advocate. I started listening to my body. That meant when people who were less fit than me were doing more than I could, I celebrated their success. I left the gym feeling proud of my accomplishments and excited to be a part of the journey. Fitness was back to feeding my soul. I was no longer frustrated that I wasn’t the athlete I used to be but excited and proud to rebuild Kelli 2.0.

Some days we are strong and full of energy. Some days we are weak and tired. Each day is its own day. Respect your mind, respect your body,and respect the day. Give yourself grace when you need it. Give each day your very best and be proud of it. Learn something each day, be it a good day or a bad day.

Trust the wind. Change comes, hard times can’t be avoided. Allow these times to help shape your journey in a positive way.


Your Mat, Your Practice

  • Kelli Hull

Educate.Motivate.Inspire: ‘Make today your masterpiece’

This is something I tell the boys each and every single day before they head off to school. It may seem like overkill to tell an 11 and 6 year old to make today the best day of their lives, but it is a simple reminder to them and to myself that today is all we are guaranteed. 

It’s a simple mantra with a complex and deep meaning that can help all of us evaluate our priorities for the day. I am not asking you to live your life in fear that it might be your last day, but rather just a call to remember to focus on what you can control. 

Prioritize the “controllables” (your mindset and your response to events) to help drive you towards your goals. Those things that we can not control (our body, the weather, traffic, other peoples words/actions, etc) are not worth the time spent away from the controllable aspects.

As we move into 2019 I ask each of you to start each day with this statement: “Anything that happens to me today is in my best interest and it’s an opportunity to learn and grow”. If you truly embrace this growth mindset statement you will be able to make each day of this new year your masterpiece.



Bucket List

I remember the moment I met Mike.  For those of you who haven’t heard our story, let me fill you in. Mike and I lived in the same apartment complex with a small community workout center.  I went there everyday, sometimes twice, to run on the treadmill (I know, I know…) After seeing each other there a few times and then being introduced by a mutual friend, Mike decided he would run with me.  A few months and 20-something pounds later, he could not keep up the “I like to run” front, and finally asked me out on a date. (Just for the record, Mike hates to run and hasn’t run with me since!)
Three years and many hours spent in globo-gyms later, we were married.  Shortly after,  we created a bucket list together. On it we listed places we wanted to travel, children we hoped to have, and near the top was owning a gym. And now, eight years after creating that list together, we are thrilled that CrossFit Cornelius is not only a check off our bucket list, but a shared passion and life dream.
As we open our doors for the first time to our new community of athletes, we think it’s important to create a bucket list for our box, our community and our future. We plan to revisit this list often, checking things off and adding new goals.
So, here goes.
1. As owners and coaches, we hope to inspire others to work hard and reach goals that they set for themselves, inside and outside of the box.
2. We will build a box that represents all that we love and believe in, and where our members will always be our number one priority.
3.  Create and facilitate an inclusive community of athletes,from all walks of life, who empower and support each other to reach their goals.
4. Build a box that people can’t wait to get to everyday.
5. Never, ever stop learning. Our coaches will constantly research and take part in certifications and seminars to deliver the best CrossFit experience possible to C2.  We will also host seminars in the box for our members on nutrition, Olympic lifting, endurance, etc.
6. Make memories and laugh a lot.
To be continued…
As you read C2’s bucket list, we hope it will inspire you to revisit or create one of your own.  We can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for each of you and we can’t wait to help you reach your goals!
-Kristin & Mike