You are hereApril 2012
We were fortunate enough to get a gently used adduction/abduction machine for the gym! This should help you all to hit that next squat PR or decrease your 400m run time! Have fun kids!
Ellie loading up for a kipping pull-up during 12.5
As written about in last Sunday's post, we're rolling out 3-tier programming this week. Below are some of the questions we've received about 3-tier programming. I'll do my best to answer them, but before that, here are a few additional points I forgot to include in the initial post.
- This is a pilot project. We may be totally wrong about the effectiveness of tiered programming. We're going to assess for 90 days and decide if we want to continue.
- We'll be doing tiered workouts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (This week is an exception, where Friday will be the Bear and everyone will be doing it. We had to shuffle around the schedule a bit due to the gym closure on Tuesday night.)
- POD will only be happening for the Tuesday and Saturday workouts (workouts that are not tiered during the week).
Onto the questions and answers...
AJ getting mobile before his workout
A big reminder: CFO will be closed Tuesday April 3 from 5pm to 8pm for staff training and development.
The open gym session will be the last session of the day, from 3:30pm to 5pm.
We've posted a track session for the evening session, if you're looking to get some conditioning work in. We'll be back to our normal schedule on Wednesday.
K-Star was in the house tonight
A huge thank you to Kelly Starrett for coming to CFO to work with our training staff tonight!
His train-the-trainers session was invaluable and we can't wait to put some of the concepts he showed us into practice, and to make you guys and gals better, more durable, and stronger at the movements we throw at you on a daily basis.
Boot Camp Warriors!
The CFO Strength and Conditioning Boot Camp, which meets on Tu/Th at 9am, is thriving and is consistently Sold Out!
So Coach Arnold has agreed to add another session which will meet 3x/week: MWF at 10 am for 4 weeks, beginning on April 30th. You can enroll online or in person.
Each session will include strength work utilizing the deadlift, squat or press. There will also be a focus on pullups, pushups and other body-weight movements. Every class will end with a conditioning workout that will put your body to the test.
You will be coached on form and technique for all lifts and movements and pushed to your limits during the workouts. As always, Crossfit workouts are scalable to everyone. It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or a seasoned athlete, this program will get you stronger, faster and more fit.
Boot Camp participants have seen some tremendous gains in their strength numbers and overall fitness while having an absolute blast - all while they support and encourage one another. Come on in and see what it is all about. Feel free to email Coach Arnold or CrossFit Oakland with any questions.
K-Star connecting the dots between jumping rope and the Olympic lifts
The video above is a nice little synopsis of proper body positioning in the double-under (a dreaded movement for many). The bigger point of the video, however, is that in your training there are no throwaway movements. Think that double-under isn't all that important, or the burpee is just about getting it done no matter what it looks like? Think again.
If you're struggling with the double-under, don't compound the situation by piking or kicking your heels behind you (known as donkey kicking). Why? Because then you're creating a default movement pattern that will be really, really hard to undo after a few hundred reps. Focus on proper positioning, and then repeat that positioning under time, load, or with speed thousands and thousands of times until the right way to do a movement becomes the default way. If you do it wrong, stop immediately, take a step back, and slow it down so that you can get it right.
And finally, don't dismiss these simpler movements; they often serve as gateway skills toward more advanced movements (particularly when it comes to trunk stability, or midline stabilization, if you prefer).
Scheduling Update: In honor of Easter Weekend and to make sure that there is plenty of time for celebrating at CrossFit Oakland, Strength Saturday will take place on Sunday, 8 April from 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM. There will be no Strength Saturday class next weekend, April 14th.
Reminder 2: Come to the party on Saturday, 7 April at 4:00 PM at CFO. Yes, you. A good time will be had.
Today’s installment will be a short reminder on the importance of keeping the spine stable under a load. A frequent cue that is given when lifting weights is “Get Tight.” This is an important concept and one that is often sacrificed when fatigue sets in. When handling a heavy barbell, the musculature of the trunk and limbs needs to be held in contraction as much as is possible. Obviously, in order for joints to flex and extend, muscles must contract and relax, but the degree to which this occurs is important here.
Let’s consider the squat, which, in my opinion, should be nominated for the most important lift of all time. If a trainee allows themselves to fall freely into the bottom of the squat, chances are that the back will round, the knees will buckle, and other grievous sins against the gods of gravity will be committed. It is Easter weekend and upsetting the gods is probably not a good idea. Flexing, extending, or twisting the spine under a load is a good way to incur a back injury. The spine likes the relationships between the various vertebrae to be maintained when squatting 500 pounds. Instead, if the hypothetical trainee above controlled their descent and kept the musculature of the trunk and legs in contraction, good positioning could be obtained, the lift could go forward, and great glory be obtained.
How does one get tighter in a lift? The first thing to do is hold your breath, also known as the Valsalva maneuver. The second is to actively contract the musculature involved prior to moving. This will slow down the movement slightly, but will allow for a better lift. As a trainee’s skill increases, the squat, or whatever lift is being performed, can be done at higher speeds while still staying tight. Therein lies one of the paradoxes of lifting, contract the muscles, but move quickly. So, cease dive bombing into the bottom of the squat and save your back at the same time. Sounds like the highly coveted win-win situation to me.
A big thank you to all of you who came out to celebrate Mike's birthday today. It was great seeing most of you dressed up as Mini! Thanks to all of you who helped put things together--Daniel for Music, Heidi for drinks, Ann and Zeke for setting up, and of course, Robyn for planning and organizing the whole shebang.
Learn how to more effectively implement Paleo eating from the world's leading Paleo expert, Robb Wolf. Hot off the presses, The Paleo Diet Budget Shopping Guide is a practical how-to book for those looking to save time and money on The Paleo Diet. In this e-book, Robb lays out some helpful shopping and cooking tips, weekly meal plans and even provides readers with links to instructional videos. Read more and download a copy here. Enjoy and let me know what you think!
Katie and Michelle at the party this past Saturday
Here's a nice piece, and an even better reminder, on one of the chief goals (if not the chief, after technical proficiency) of our conditioning workouts: power output.
As a plus, it's by Robyn's favorite CrossFit thinker and writer, Jon Gilson, of Again Faster.
150-lb Liao Hui clean-and-jerking 435 pounds
We spent a lot of time (some might say too much time) in group classes today hammering home the point about proper rack positioning for the clean, jerk, and push press. They're all racked in a remarkably similar way, with the only real difference being that in the clean the elbows are pointing forward and just the fingertips are in contact with the bar, and in the jerk and push press, the elbows are pointing down more than forward, and the bar more toward the base of the palm rather than the fingertips.
In both cases, the bar is racked on the shoulders, the elbows are angled straight ahead (elbows are not angled inward), and the hands are well outside of the shoulders (not even close, really).
Liao Hui, the lifter in the video above, demonstrates the rack position for the clean and the jerk perfectly.
Skip ahead to the 25-second mark in the video if you don't want to hear the preamble from the CNN news reporter. And then simply replay the video, making a mental note of the relationship between shoulders, elbows, hands, wrists, and barbell.
On any given day, I am witness to the vast array of beautiful people that frequent our little establishment (see above). Seriously, we don't spend a dime on marketing -- you are all just stunning examples of what can happen when one has the courage to walk through our doors.
Perhaps CrossFit simply attracts foxy girls and guys or perhaps it is something more. Maybe your beauty is a function of hard work, achievement and success and the confidence that comes from these. Possibly that special glow is the empowerment derived from overcoming failure, frustration and disappointment. Or maybe it is just all the flippin' testosterone in the air.
Regardless, as a group you are all ridiculously attractive. So what does that mean? Is that important? Is that why you come to CFO day after day knowing you are just going to suffer and sweat? If so, is that ok?
How important are aesthetics and what does your appearance say about you? Check out what Ashley Judd has to say about the way the media treats her appearance. What do you think? How about this story about a plus-sized, former anorexic model who could find herself out of work because she is now a 'normal' size?
What is wrong with wanting to look great? If it is so wrong, why does it feel so good when someone tells you how fantastic you look? Is it ok to put value on our looks? Or does that make us closet misogynists?
I have to admit, Ms. Judd's words definitely got me thinking....Would love to hear your thoughts.
Mara, Melissa, and Brian C at CFO last Saturday
Since I'm now a part of the Club, I wanted to pass along this great opportunity for the 40+ athletes out there to learn from some of the finest CrossFit coaches out there.
TJ's Gym is holding a 2-day training camp on June 9 & 10, known as the Masters Class, and it's designed for anyone 40 or older who is looking to improve their CF skill set. The list of CF coaches there (Kelly Starrett, Carl Paoli, Jesse Burdick, and Mark Bell, to name just a few) is impressive. The cost of the seminar is $399, which may seem steep, but I've worked with some of these coaches and believe me, this is a bargain (in fact, many of their 1-day seminars are usually $500 and up, and for two days it can be twice as much).
Just to repeat, this is only for those CrossFitters who are 40 and older. I'll be attending for sure; hopefully some of you will be joining me.
For full details, and to register, go here: www.tjsgym.com/masterclass.html
Here is a great video about rowing technique that Mike has posted in the past. I thought it would be a good refresher after the workout today.
This video from Concept2 goes over the most common technique errors seen with the rower. If you find progress on the rower to be challenging, check out the video and see if you are doing something wrong. Tomorrow is a great day to practice your technique. There are also a few drills posted on the most recent MobilityWod.
Just because Mike is out of the country with no access to a computer (at least that is what he told me), doesn't mean we can't wish him a very Happy Birthday as today, April 15th, is his actual, real-life birthday.
Yes, it is also Tax Day, so consider this a friendly reminder to get those income tax returns into your friendly government collections center.
But back to Mike's birthday... This one is SOOOOO big, that in addition to a huge party last Saturday and this celebratory post, Dawn put together a lovely gift from all of us. It is a large photo frame mat, signed by as many of you as humanly possible.
If you have not yet had a chance to sign the mat (pictured above), it will be available to you this week at the gym so that you may add to it your best birthday wishes for Coach Mini.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JEFE GRANDE!
Check out our latest On-Ramp graduates! This super-fun and super-fit group finished the On-Ramp course last Friday morning, so keep a look out for their shiny new faces and make sure to introduce yourselves and say hey.
Next morning On-Ramp will run Apr 30th - May 25th: Mon-Wed-Fri @ 7am.
Vee & Peak
Found a couple of articles to share, posted on the CrossFit Affiliate blog. Perhaps these thoughts from other cult members will speak to you:
The first is called "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Truth about Change" from a blog called CPMFitness. If you find yourself stuck in a bad habit and really want to change it, check out this little factoid:
"Science has shown that patterns of thoughts and actions repeated many times over create what's called a neuro-signature or a "brain groove," or a series of interconnected neurons that carry the thought patterns of a particular habit. Attention feeds the habit. When we give our attention to a habit, we activate the brain groove, releasing the thoughts, desires, and actions related to that habit. Luckily, our brain our malleable (like our muscles in our body:-). If we stop giving attention to the bad habits, those grooves weaken i.e. stop working out. When we form new habits, we drive new grooves deeper with each repetition, eventually overpowering the previous ones."
The second article is from the blog of CrossFit Hustle in Kentucky and is called The 20 Percenters. I am particularly fond of misquoting the 80/20 rule, so I found this one fun to read. The author cautions his clients to resist the urge to remain in the world of 80%, when there is so much to be gained from that 20% we tend to avoid.
"But think about the potential in the last 20 percent. That’s where success is exponential with every percent. Each extra effort you make in your life puts you ahead of the rest because if they are working hard, they’re most likely doing it 80 percent of the time."
Yes, the CF Games Regional Competition workouts have been announced. The Northern California regional event kicks off in exactly one month, on May 18th in San Jose. Who's getting excited? Rumor has it that CFO will be sending a few competitors to take on the best in Nor Cal. You might even know some of them....
Even if you're not competing, you can get in on the action. Come on down and support the team and watch some ridiculous beasts do the same stuff you do every day at CFO. If you've never been to one of these things, you might want to check it out. Pretty motivating stuff. As usual, there will be a contingent, a tent, perhaps some food and beverages - you get the idea. You can purchase tickets online here.
May 18 - 20, 2012 from 8 am to 7 pm
Santa Clara County Fairgrounds
344 Tully Road, San Jose, CA 95111
Firefighter Patrick is helping the 6am ladies learn about gym safety!
Yes, we know the M/W/F evening classes are getting a bit crazy lately and we are looking at ways to manage the chaos more efficiently. Thanks for your patience as we figure it out.
In the meantime, just a friendly reminder to be hyper-aware of safety and courtesy, especially when the gym is crowded.
- Be cautious around moving barbells. It is not safe to reach or walk around someone who has the bar out of the rack. Whether your fellow lifter is squatting, pressing or jerking - please respect his or her space bubble and wait until they have completed the lift. No matter how much you want that plate or collar that is behind them, it is not safe to grab it until after the bar is safely nestled in the rack or sitting on the ground.
- If you are not participating in a class, please clear the gym floor for those who are. Nobody wants to be nailed with a speed rope or kettle bell while catching up with a friend or rolling out on a lacrosse ball. Also remember that we love your children and animals and want to protect them, so please keep them off the gym floor during class time. On that note, please clean up after your doggies - yes we recently found a special surprise near the back door :(
-If your fellow lifter is going for a heavy work set or is attempting a PR or heavy single in a lift, it is common courtesy to stay out of his or her line of sight and peripheral vision until after the lift. Feel free to chat and move around during warm ups and rest.
- We all know this, but it can't hurt to remember to respect the equipment by not dropping fragile pieces like empty barbells and 5lb/10lb bumper/training plates. Kettle bells, dumb bells DON'T like to be dropped from overhead. Barbells with larger sized bumper plate DO like to be dropped from overhead, just make sure you maintain control of your bar and keep it in your very own special space bubble.
Again, we are doing our best to relieve some of the evening congestion. Stay safe and sane!
Greg deadlifting at the CrossFit Total in December 2011. Sorry, Zeke, I don't have a photo of you.
Schedule Update: Next week's Strength Saturday class (April 28th) will be coached by our one and only Mike Minium.
This weekend our very own Greg and Zeke will be heading to the South Bay to compete in their first powerlifting meet. The competition will be held at Wild Iron Gym in Santa Clara, CA under the auspices of the United States Powerlifting Association (USPA). Lifting will begin at 9:30 AM on Sunday and go until it is done. The meet is limited to 30 lifters, so unlike the last USPA meet I attended, things will probably wrap up by the late afternoon.
A powerlifting meet consists of three events - the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift. Competitors get three attempts at each lift and the winner is determined by totaling the heaviest successful attempt from each of the three movements, also called a "total." Actually, it is slightly more complicated than that. A formula is used that involves the lifters total and bodyweight in an attempt to more evenly compare the performance of competitors in different weight classes. The winner with the highest calculated value wins, but getting a big total is essential if a person is to win. In a meet, all the lifters finish their three attempts at the squat before moving on to the bench and then the deadlift. To allow for reasonable rest periods between each attempt, competitors are often broken up into groups, or flights, based on weight class.
Greg has been a regular at the Strength Saturday classes since they began and has made enormous strides in his lifting in that time. He is a testament to power of hard work and persistence. Zeke is a relative newcomer to the class, but has been training consistently and driving his lifts up. I am going to enjoy watching both of them compete on Sunday. Should you find yourself with the time to make a little trip to the South Bay, please stop by to cheer them on. Best of luck to both of you.
I wanted to throw one other competition your way, though, that's coming to the Bay Area on August 11. It's the Occupy Strength NorCal Competition, which is a CrossFit Football strength and conditioning competition. It's going to be run down at CrossFit One World by Freddy C and his crew, and it promises to be a great day of testing one's limits.
It's comprised of 2 parts, a strength test that involves testing your 1-rep max in the power clean, squat, bench press, and deadlift, and a metabolic conditioning workout no longer than 15 minutes, and most likely involving some fairly heavy weights, shorter sprints, and the like (this is just a guess on my part, though).
This competition serves as a nice middle ground between a traditional powerlifting meet (all max effort lifts, no metcon) and something like the 2012 CrossFit Games Open (all five workouts were metcons of varying lengths and levels of skill and strength, but no max effort lifts). It gives you a chance to go your absolute heaviest and still test your conditioning.
I'll be doing this (in the lightweight category, obviously), and hopefully I can get a lot of you to join me as well.
Full details are here: Occupy Strength NorCal
Let's just say it's been WAY too long since CFO'ers ran around in the mud
Registration fees for the Tough Mudder on Sept 29th increase $30 after April 30th! Let's get this team assembled. Don't worry if you are not prepared - we have Coach Aaron standing by with a complete training program which will augment the CrossFit you are already doing.
Everyone says this is an experience not to be missed and doing it with a team makes it even better. So far Team CFO boasts 13 members. While that is a very lucky number, we definitely have room for more. So take a chance and put your training to the test.
Formal training begins in June. You can find out more details and register here. Just shoot us an email and we will send you the team password so you can formally join Team CrossFit Oakland. Get ready for a good time!
Carl discussing some of the finer points of the pistol
We've been doing, and will continue to do, a lot of skill work on pistols. Check out the video above for some more pointers on how to perform pistols better (or get your first one).
Here is a little footage of some of you lifting the stones at the gym. Some interesting technique involved in lifting the Atlas stones--more trick than strength? What do you think?
The latest batch of On-Ramp graduates
Another 4 weeks down, another new batch of CFOers. Our most recent On-Ramp just finished up this past Friday. Now they're ready to train in our group classes.
Welcome to CFO group classes, everyone!
Jacques coaching one of ACORN Woodland's students on the front squat
Last year, a number of us from CFO had the opportunity to volunteer our time to and coach at the ACORN Elementary School Sports and Fitness Fair. The Fair was a a 3-hour time slot dedicated to teaching kids about various aspects of physical fitness. We put together all kinds of CrossFit-inspired drills and games for them.
This all happened because of Ellie, fellow CFOer and teacher at ACORN Elementary School. She's the one who organizes the whole thing. The Fair is right around the corner, and I'm hoping we can get a ton of volunteers to help out again this year.
It's totally worth your time and you'll be helping out a lot of kids in the process!
Here's a message from Ellie, including date, time, and how to contact her.
I'm organizing the Sports and Fitness Fair at my school again this year and I'd love to have some CFO volunteers come again! It was such a success last year! Would you be willing to post it on the CFO page to see if anyone is interested?
It is on Thursday, May 24th from 9am-12pm. I do need volunteers to stay for that whole time block in order to make things equitable for the students.
The volunteers can plan their own station or have me plan one for them. I have lots of equipment volunteers can use or they can bring their own. They will teach to a group of 12-14 students at a time for around 10 min. and then a new group will rotate through.
CFO'ers can comment on the blog if they're interested, leaving their name and e-mail, and I can follow up individually with them.
ACORN Woodland is a small, public school located in East Oakland , just walking distance from the Oakland Coliseum. We serve 250 students, Kinder-5th grade. Physical fitness and nutrition are essential elements of our school’s mission. We firmly believe that a successful educational experience preparing all students for college must include a balance between rigorous academic preparation and an education of the whole child. We consistently encourage and nurture social, emotional, cooperative and team-building skills through competitive and non-competitive sports and games. Before leaving our school, each of our students has a chance to find their niche in the world of physical fitness and feels successful in a variety of core sports and recess games. We'd love to diversify the skills with some Crossfit elements again!