Thursday, July 31, 2008


...between the body and the mind. On the one hand, it is through measurement of performance that we observe progress. On the other, it is imperative that you use the intangibles related to how you feel to ensure your fitness program is working for you, and not vice-versa. It is entirely possible to be 'on your game', performance-wise while dragging your body through the ringer to get there. This is not the path to long-term improvement.

CrossFit has done a great job of defining the rather nebulous concept of fitness as increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains. But let's not forget that nature does not mold itself to anyone's definition of anything...these definitions are merely markers used to create a common language for discussion of a concept. That said, fitness is still a nebulous thing, tough to pin down, and the numbers associated with performance are not often the only markers that matter.

Let's look at the largest time-domain there is, your life. Across this time-domain, you will experience an undeniable ebb and flow of performance, interest and ability. This will translate into periods of less-than stellar performance, followed by periods of kicking ass, and all points in between, assuming you are interested in a long-term active lifestyle.

In many of these times, the arbitrary numbers associated with working out may not be the best and only means to evaluate progress. Emotional state, mental clarity, and overall sense of wellness must not be discounted at any of these times. Kicking ass, but feeling like crap is no good and definitely not sustainable long-term. While the definition of fitness above is very complete, it is easy to get lost in the math-game. Doing so is a great way to ensure you do not increase your work capacity across the broadest of time domains...burnout does nothing for increasing anyone's work capacity, in any domain.

So, continue kicking ass, setting PRs and upping your game. Just make sure you take the time to check in and make sure those little things like enjoyment, sense of well-being and accomplishment are still part of the equation. Your fitness should be working for you! Make sure you're the one wearing the pants in this relationship.

Have Fun,

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Adam and Cheryl Head East

Adam and Cheryl had their last SFCF beatdown last night and headed out today for a quite life in the northeast. Good thing the fog and wind were blowing!

We will sorely miss two of our most intense, hard working super jocks, who let everyone know that Ultra-Runners are in fact "cool", and that it's always ok to wear green shorts.

Thanks to everyone one who joined us after Tuesday night Olympics for a beer.

And on another note:
SFCF celebrated it's 1000th athlete last night.

Crazy huh?

Coach kstar

Monday, July 28, 2008

Opportunity for Advancement

There is an excellent coaching opportunity looming on the horizon. Greg Everett of Catalyst Athletics and the Performance Menu will be hosting an Olympic Weighlifting Seminar in mid-October within driving distance of SF! Details here and below.

This will probably fill up quickly, as Greg is an excellent instructor. There is also a group discount...if you are interested in attending, post to comments ASAP and we will contact Greg to get a SFCF group-rate.


Olympic Weightlifting Seminar

Saturday & Sunday October 18-19
10:00am - 5:00pm

CrossFit NorCal
Chico, CA

The Olympic lifts develop unparalleled explosiveness for athletes of all types, but because of their relatively great technical complexity, they are often performed incorrectly, limiting their effectivess, or even avoided entirely.

Spend two days learning complete progressions for the snatch and clean & jerk, and dramatically improve your own lifting technique.

Registration includes a 102-page excerpt from the book Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches by Greg Everett

Requirements & Expectations
No previous experience with the Olympic lifts is required, but attendees should be reasonably experienced with basic strength lifts such as the squat and deadlift. This seminar will be hands-on for its duration.


Greg Everett, CSCS, USA Weightlifting Coach
Aimee Anaya, National Champion Weightlifter
Register Online


Reserve your space now with a deposit of $149

Discounts for groups are available. Contact us for details.

Contact for More Information:
Greg Everett

See you at 6,

Sunday, July 27, 2008

This Week's Goal...

Do you remember your first exposure? Can you recall the day you found out about what "Fran" really was? Do you remember being devastated by your first taste of metabolic work capacity?

But now you're habituated to suffering. Sure you realize you can still improve your Fight Gone Bad, and you can squat, run, push, pull, and burpbee till you literally blow up. And as gawd-awful as that is, and as bad as it is each time you do it, it literally isn't equivalent to "first exposure."

Buddhists believe that humility is equivalent to concern of how to be liberated from the sufferings of life and the vexations of the human mind. No matter how hard a workout is, you know you'll survive now, and given enough time, stomp that same WOD.
First exposures are humility made manifest. You have no reference points, only a vague notion that you are really not the athlete, machine, human you thought you were.

First exposures are vital.

Gandhi is attributed as suggesting that attempting to sustain truth without humility is doomed to cause it to become instead an "arrogant caricature" of truth. Crossfit as fitness paradigm is legitimate because it recognizes that there is always improvement to be had. The Crossfit athlete is never finished, always developing. Because of this nimble, emergent, guiding principle crossfit can never become a caricature of truth, nor our athletes arrogant at their blossoming work capacities.
How could we? There's just so much to be bad at.

Coach Boz and I committed a while back to embracing our physical failures, and to even flaunt the ass kickings we were taking in our physical seekings. For example, Boz got to hang out with a senior Navy Seal Instructor in the training pool. (Boz is not designed to float. He can do it, he just doesn't dig it.) It wasn't pretty, but he IS committed to seeking out the margins of his capacities.

And you should too.

So here's your homework.
Go suck at something. Get out of your comfort zone and be terrible.
Borrow a bike, go for a long run, go sprint in the pool with your tri-buddies, go climbing, kayaking, surfing, whatever. Just go have a first exposure. Go remember why Crossfit got your attention. Go out and realize you have just scratched the surface of what you can do. Go find your "first time you did Fran" humility. That's why we train. We train to realize our unseen, unknown potential.

Post the week's humilities to comments.

Coach K

Friday, July 25, 2008

No Open Gym Saturday

Hey Gang,
Just a reminder that we won't have Open Gym this Saturday 7/26.


The Point

Crossfit for Crossfit's sake is good no doubt.
But the point of all that CF whoopass is that you can go out into the world KNOWING that you are prepared for anything. And the best part is that it's almost impossible to forsee all the implications of your hard training. At Crossfit, we like to say we are preparing our athletes for the unknown and the unknowable.
And the bonus is, that wherever you go, you take a little bit of SFCF with you.

Just like our man in Iraq. We can't identify him because he's sporting our beanie on patrol, but we can say that his wife Jaime, kicks some serious butt at SFCF.

Post the strangest, most unforseen way CF has affected your physical life outside of class. Did you bench press a buddies car? Did you rock trapeze class? Let us know!

Coach Kstar

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dietary Truth and Reckoning

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!
Nutrition lays the foundation for our efforts in and out of the gym.
You are literally what you eat. So let's get it all out there in the open.
You can gas and burn in front of your CF brothers and sisters and now you have an opportunity to lay bare your nutrition too!

Your mission:
Post everything you ate on Wednesday. Good, bad, all of it.
Rate your day's eating on a scale of 1 to 10.
Zone, no zone, paleo, vegan whatever.


Post a great nutrition website for your brothers and sisters too.

To start things off, check out

Coach Kstar

Weinie Roast

Since we're on the topic of squat, let's continue on up and chat about the Overhead variety.

The Overhead Squat is a supremely challenging squat variation. Beyond being a ton of fun for your coaches to witness (especially the inevitable bail-outs), there is a lot of fantastic adaptation to be gained from this movement. Let's start with the obvious: Mobility.

Performing a well-executed overhead squat demands excellent mobility about the shoulder, thoracic spine, hip, knee and ankle joints. The recruitment patterns that one develops when all of these joints are working together is truly useful flexibility. This will carry over to many other activities. Think snatching, kipping pullups, jerks (especially deeper power jerks), handstand pushups etc. If any of the above mentioned systems are not up to task (especially those from the hip up), the legs will not effectively be able to transfer power up in to the object being lifted. I think we all know the result of that...

Moving past mobility, let's talk stability and I'm not talking about that goofy stand-on-one-leg-on-a-bosu business. You should all be aware by now that we are after a nice rigid midline. This is to keep the spine stable and safe. Kelly's hotdog-with-a-toothpick-in-the-middle analogy will serve us nicely here (the toothpick is your spine, the meat is, well, your meat). We need the meat to be fully engaged around that toothpick to keep it from bending (or worse, snapping in half).

Let's stand that hotdog up on end in our minds for a minute. Now place a tiny, imaginary dot roughly in the middle of the 'dog and a tiny imaginary load on the top of the 'dog. This is where your center of gravity is and where the weight would rest in a front squat position, respectively. The dot is also roughly where the pelvis meets the spine. Now connect the dot to the load. Let's call this line X. As your dog comes forward while squatting (inevitably in any squat variation you will have some forward inclination of your torso, there is nothing wrong with this, although more upright can typically be deemed 'more-mature' in the front and overhead variations), the load will create some potential torque about the dot. It is the meat's job to negate that torque by contracting and keeping the toothpick from bending.

Now, if we move the load a few inches above the dog and connect the dot to the new, higher load we get a longer line. Let's call this Y. As our dog comes forward there will be more potential torque on the dot due to the longer line of action between the load and the dot. This demands more contraction from the meat to keep that toothpick from snapping.

With me?
Here's a recap. Assume the loads are identical in the examples. Demands on midline stability are represented by the size of the letters:

Squat with line X creates potential torque. Meat contracts to save the day.

Squat with longer line Y creates potential TORQUE. Meat contacts harder to save the day.

Now, let's take a big 'ol bite out of that hotdog, right in the middle, right down to the toothpick. This simulates inactivity or weakness during an overhead squat. Let's start the experiment again...squat begins, load creates potential torque as the squat meat on one side of the toothpick....what happens? The toothpick fails (or rather your brain alerts you that the toothpick will fail and shuts your ass down demanding that you get out of the way) and the lift is no good.

Talk about a stability builder!!

If you can get past the mobility and stability demands, the balance of having a load overhead travelling through a large range of motion is another challenge all together...

In the examples posted, look how the toothpicks stay rigid and straight while the meat stabilizes. The torso drifts forward, but the relationship between meat and toothpick remains consistent.

MMmm Hot dogs,


Monday, July 21, 2008

The Front Squat Compromise

Front squatting is brutally hard. Moving the barbell placement from the spine of the scapula as in the back squat, to the front rack position and away from the athlete's center of gravity effectively generates an additive crushing rotational force to an already demanding hip and leg extension movement. Moving loads further and further away from the spine forces the athlete to resist trunk flexion while simultaneously maintaining a rigid spine-pelvis relationship. Herein lies the beauty of this greatly hated squat variation.

Here's the forced compromise:
1) In order the effectively handle a large load in racked position, the front squat demands that the athlete maintain as vertical a torso as possible during the decent. That is, the athlete cannot really push their butts back and shift the lion's share of the decent loading to the hamstrings as they would in the back squat. This would result in the dumping of the load forward as a gigantic shear/torque force was loaded on the spine. Try it and see.

2) Thus, in order to keep the load stacked neatly over torso and pelvis, the athlete's knees have to track well forward of the foot during peak compression (the bottom) of the movement. This anterior translation of the knee effectively forces the squatter into a conscious muted-hip position where load is transferred off the hamstrings and onto the quads. Athletes will even compromise their knee positioning here and adopt and much more abducted (knees turned out)knee position than their usual squatting position to minimize the effects of the vertical torso. And, in order to rise up out of the hole, the squatter will temporarily shoot their butt's back and engage their powerful hamstrings to initiate the ascent thereby temporarily negating the benefits of the neatly stacked and balanced torso.

3) The problem with this momentary hamstring shift backwards is that the athlete still has the weight racked well in front of that pesky center of gravity. And with hamstrings on and butt back, the athlete now has to resist an even greater turning/flexion moment through the torso. And it is at this moment that the athlete will...


1) Round their backs and make or miss the lift


2) They will immediately chase the bar by driving their hips forward to regain the vertical, balanced torso.

So what do we want our front squatting athlete's to do?
We want them to get as much hamstring in the movement as possible AND keep the torso as vertical as possible.

What's required:

1) Rigid, rock hard mid-line stabilization. A fence post like spine.
2) Freaky huge quads to handle the load given up by the hamstings.
3) Terrific ankle flexibility to handle the forward driving shins during the vertical torso phase.

The Problem:
Front squatting is hard.
It forces the athlete to solve some rather tough positioning problems.
We love what it does for our athletes.
It reflects a lot of real world "picking things up" activities.

So go get compromised.

Coach kstar

ps. Coach Di is making it look easy.....

Friday, July 18, 2008

See What Pushups Can Do For You

Yesterday's workout included about a million pushups. Solid effort by everyone and great standard of movement! Check out Steve getting to depth and Graham gettting that full extension.

You guys can thank Dutch at Crossfit ATM for that one!

Also, Lucas is taking pre-orders for his new fragrance/musk line, "Hombre" in all hombre. The heart-shaped sweat stain is a nice touch.

Have a great weekend,


Thursday, July 17, 2008


Middle English, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse traust trust; akin to Old English trēowe faithful — more at true
13th century

1 a: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something

Our community extends beyond the boundaries of loose social association. The collective "coerced zen" suffering (thanks Ross) assures us that there is no doubt as to the nature of the athlete next to you. Trust is forged. Friends become family.

Coach kstar

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Diaphragm Plunger

The ultimate goal under athletic and real world loading is to be able to keep our spines in a neutral and stable position. Imagine if you will, that your spine is contained in a rough cylinder of meat, not unlike a hotdog with a toothpick running down the middle.
To create stability, we want our athletes to tighten up their trunks as if they were squeezing their spines in a 360 degree direction, aiming the contraction force inwards, there by crushing the toothpick. The human body has a few different integrated muscular and soft-tissue systems that make this possible and remarkably effective.
To take care of the bottom of the meat tube, we need our athletes to pull up on their pelvic floor, and we accomplish this by cuing them to "pull sphincter to belly button."
The last piece of the equation then, comes from getting our athletes to jam their diaphragms down thus "capping the tube". This pressure from the diaphragm comes from taking an enormous breath and holding it during the performed movement (old school name is valsalva). Not only does this make the spinal system initially stable, but breath holding also increases spinal rigidity during peak movement compression by effectively supporting the hotdog from the inside, through the rising compression force of the air trapped in the lungs. In effect, taking that big breath and holding it allows for internal trunk support to augment the external support we are already generating. This is good.

If you have a heart condition should you hold your breath? Maybe not. But humans hold their breaths all the time as a normal stabilizing strategy. (Picture your niece taking a poo, bet she holds her breath as she pushes. Or a pregnant woman pushing during childbirth. Or a man with back pain breathing in short gasps.) Bottom line is that holding your breath during movement and effort is normal and functional. So let's make sure we are doing it right. Besides, when you take that big breath and compress it under load, you also temporarily supercharge your nervous system which does things like; temporarily raises blood pressures (this is good as you want blood to keep getting to your tissue when stressed ....bad if you have congestive heart failure) and increases neural output by creating nervous system overflow.

Bottom line, take a discreet, distinct big breath before you lift on your next squat, press, clean, deadlift etc. And, don't let it out until you are sure you are in the clear. Too often, we see athletes miss the tail end of what would be successful lifts because they breathed out and lost trunk tension.

Go hold your breath and PR. Your spine will thank you.

Coach Kstar

Monday, July 14, 2008


Really, that's what it's all about. Whether you know it or not, that is why you keep coming back and busting your ass. There has to be an element of enjoyment.

This doesn't necessarily mean it's all rainbows and daisies while you're grunting and wishing for swift relief from your physical duties, but somewhere along the line something about what we do makes you happy. What is that thing for you? Is it finishing ahead of your un-official nemesis? Gaining a skill you previously thought impossible? Giving the 'crazy-horse-eye' to your coach in the middle of some heinous task?

Post happiness to comments.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

And The Winners Are....

We had a ton of great entries for our essay contest. After much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands, Tamra Bidegary and Nick Hanson were our skilled and lucky winners.
Registration closes tomorrow for Saturday's seminar. Sign up at if you are interested.

Here is a teaser of one of the great entries we received.

Nutrition Scholarship Application: A Haiku

by Dr/Dr

Eating is my goat--
Properly (not quantity).
I want to improve.

Reason—and ration—
Applied to fueling body—
Maximize Crossfit.

Nutrition coaching?
Learn principles, tools to use
Each day, any time.

After 8 years of
PhD and MD schools
There's still more to learn.

Number of letters
After my name doesn't help
zeros in paycheck.

Help me be a lean
mean, diagnosin' machine.
I'll deadlift my doc.

Coach Kstar

Friday, July 11, 2008

Strike a Pose

It's kinda like a k-star-studded, sweating, swearing, non-dancing musical. Without music.

There's definately some fine orchestration going on here...keep up the good work.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

These old things?

Let's talk about those lower extremities. The ol' sticks, you know? As bi-peds, learning to extend the hip and leg is pretty critical. We need these pillars of support to be exactly that, not rickety old picket fence supports.

Ever wonder why it's almost universally attractive to both men and women to have nice legs and, uh, gluteus maximus? We depend on these old things to get us around and out of jams on a daily basis. The more development down there, the more potential function just about everywhere. Don't take those sticks for granted!

I took a few pics of the CrossFit Games this weekend. Here is one of the workout stations I helped out at on Saturday:

Can you spot the OG SFCFer in this pic?

I was fortunate enough to spend the evening after the games on the santa cruz boardwalk with Pat Barber from CF Santa Cruz, Shahan Contractor and Chris Spealler from CF Park City, and Dutch Lowy of CF ATM. Yes, we were the coolest people there...

See you all in the AM,


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Essay Contest

SFCF is pleased to announce the first ever "win a scholarship to the nutrition seminar essay contest." (or. WASNSEC for short) We want to celebrate holding the first ever Crossfit Nutrition Seminar.

For holding the nutrition seminar at SFCF Crossfit, HQ grants us two scholarship spots.
We want to give those two coveted spots to our hard working, paleo/zone-eating San Francisco athletes.

To enter: Send your essay to
Essay: Must be 500 words or less
Topic: Why you deserve a scholarship to the first ever historic Robb Wolf nutrition seminar.
Deadline: This Saturday, High Noon

Coach Kstar

Monday, July 07, 2008

Demons OUT!!!

Of late we have taken to writing down excuses as we hear them. In effect we are attempting to name the devil. If it's on the board, you no longer can use it.

The problem is, most of us have some version of an excuse that we pull out during our most difficult efforts. And, we may be the only ones that ever actually hear it. Try to recognize yourself doing it, stop, and write it on the board. Poof, the crutch is gone and ego is laid to waste.

What is your go to? Your trick knee of excuses? Is your exercise excuse the same as the one you use in your day to day life?

Post lame ass private excuses to comments and be done with them for good. Demons OUT!

Coach Kstar

What Happens Under Stress?

What happens to you under periods of peak stress? Do you get angry? Do you rally? Does your easy positive mood change to short tempered negative self talk?

One of the side effects of our difficult training is that we regularly place ourselves directly in the path of very stressful experiences. So in a sense, we practice being stressed out. During your next workout pay attention to what happens to your mindset and it's effect on your productivity and success.

Don't get me wrong, channeling crazy "horse eye" can be very effective and works well for Matty T.

Coach kstar

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Just a reminder that we will be having a happy 4th of July Class tomorrow at 8am. So come out and get your patriotic lift on.

There will be no classes Saturday (including open gym).

Have a happy, safe holiday!!

The B in Business School...

...Clearly must stand for Bittersweet.

Josh Cunningham is leaving us for grad school on the east coast.
He has been one of our hardest working, most gracious, humble athletes.
We will sorely miss him. A few lines of Julius Cesear? Ok. (Gene Hackman also used this quote in the movie Uncommon Valor, I guess that's what made me think of it. Josh did always remind me of the Patrick Swayzee character.)

Forever, and forever, farewell, Cassius!
If we do meet again, why, we shall smile;
If not, why then this parting was well made. (5.1.125)

Coach Kstar

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

So You Think You've Got a Complex?

Push Presses too easy you say? Well then, we'll just toss a few deadlifts and cleans in before you get there. It is one thing to be able to perform a skill with nothing else in front or behind it. As our athletes found out today, it is entirely another to be able to perform a movement 'in-the-hole' from fatigue.

Here's some of the gang stuck in the middle

At the end of the workout, Lucas still had enough in the tank to give an outstanding performance on the slackline. Truly impressive! Lucas said he would be happy to put on a clinic for anyone interested in his advanced slackline method. Must be the lion's mane....

See you in the AM,