Sunday, November 30, 2008

Answer the Demon



Can't is the word that is foe to ambition,
An enemy ambushed to shatter your will;
Its prey is forever the man with a mission
And bows but to courage and patience and skill.
Hate it, with hatred that's deep and undying,
For once it is welcomed 'twill break any man;
Whatever the goal you are seeking, keep trying
And answer this demon by saying: "I can."--Guest




Coach Kstar

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Chipper Fest '09

First, Happy Thanksgiving and many thanks to all those that made this year's Turkey workout the best ever.
Our resident Pathologist (Dr.Dr) was able to quantify the pie/time concept.
She noted that this obscure measurement (calories Pie per second) is known as the "gourd". I'm pretty confident new gourd (input?) records will be set later on today.
Great efforts all!

It was a big day for several other reasons too.
We at SFCF are thankful:



Thankful for this box. That unicorn has blood in its eyes. Of course. If we could have had a 12 sided die, we would have painted it. Coach Boz has Dragonforce rocking on his internal soundtrack. +8 for awesomeness.


We are thankful for our great community of let's face it, amazing, generous, brilliant, crazy people.









We are thankful that Molly is marrying Corby on Saturday. Our goal the past week was to cripple the bride. Miracle Molly has confounded us again.
Congrats you two!







And we are 364 days thankful that Meghan Kearny is finished Chemo.



But who cares? Because today she stuck her first pull up ever (and we mean ever.)
And it counts, because it was done on film

video


See you for regular classes again tomorrow!
Don't worry, we're going heavy.

Coach Kstar

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Science, Pie, and Holiday Schedule




We have done it again! Top SFCF scientists have developed a scientifically "proven" workout that will allow the athlete to eat increased amounts of pie for the rest of the day.

We call it: The Turkey Chipper

We are currently recruiting athletes for a another study to be held Thursday, Thanksgiving at 8:30 am.

Due to the rigorous nature of this double blind, randomly generated, placebo controlled workout, no other workout will be held on Thursday.

NO Thursday PM classes!

Coach Angel will be on hand till about 11am Thursday morning for some additional
"stuffing, yam, and sweet potato pre-fatiguing."

Regular classes resume on Friday.

So donate your body to science.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Coach Kstar

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Thoracic-Lumbar Hinge Says Alot About Your "Core"



Stabilizing a load of any significance over your head is really one of the best exercises there is to develop real-life, functional trunk strength. To be clear, there is no physio-ball exercise on the planet that can match standing under a heavy load.

There are many functional movement screens out there that will allegedly show the weaknesses of an athlete in training. Our movement screening is based upon the actual, base exercises that we perform (the push press being one). We are opposed to using correlates of evaluation (movement screens) in lieu of using our bread and butter foundational movements. I don't need to "test" your abdominal strength to know that you will fall apart under increased overhead loading. I just need to see you start pressing and push-pressing. Your weaknesses will show themselves. And as Coach Rippetoe says, "The cure for bad form, is good form."

All of the photos of the athletes above share a common movement fault. Can you see it?

All of the athletes are under sufficient overhead loading to elicit the same basic movement fault. That is, all of these athletes' mid-line stabilization breaks down at the base of their rib cage. The junction of the rigid ribcage and the start of your low back/lumbar spine in known as the T-L junction, or thoracic-lumbar junction. The photos show good examples of T-L hinging.




Now, there is nearly always some weight/work load that will exceed the stabilizing capacity of the athlete's trunk. But T-L hinging is probably the most common "over-extension" based fault that we see. The potential hinging that occurs in this region puts a great deal of localized stress on the spine here. In fact, many athletes will report that their backs are a little sore after big pressing movements. Over extension of the spine (here in the T-L junction) is to blame.




But really, blame the abdominal muscles. Sure your shoulders are tight and leaning back will help this problem, but your abs should not let your rib cage leave the locked down, anchored position. It is largely your internal obliques that are failing you here. Ironically, keeping the ribs in and down when going overhead sets the big, prime movers of the shoulder blades, up for the optimal position from which to generate force. So, letting your ribcage fly up (creating a T-L hinge) actually decreases your body's ability to move weight overhead. So weak abs leads to hinging, which leads to decreased force production over head. Not sweet.

And that's why we really care.

Poor positioning and moving away from "best fit" might look bad and make your back ache, but really, it just decreases your incredible ability to generate power.

So keep the ribcage down when working overhead. And keep working on that "core".


Coach Kstar

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sometimes You Just Gotta Check the Box



There are times when you get home late from work, friends are coming for dinner, you're tired, and you still need to workout. Oh yeah, and the Olympics are only four years away.

This is not the time for a quality, life-changing, PR smashing athletic experience.
No. This is the time to fill in the square, check the box, and just get some credit for showing up.

The goal is to set yourself up for success. Have a go to set off crappy dumbells, a kettle bell, a sandbag or whatever. Know how far it is to the corner and back.
Scope out a tree branch. Start the clock.

Coach Boz talked about absolutes a few posts back. You don't need the perfect set up.
You don't need the right environment. You don't need that perfect equipment, boom box, interval timer, etc.

You do need to pony up.

Get rid of the barriers between you and working out. You just need to nurture those hard fought for metabolic enzymes. And, your neighbors might think are just a touch paleosexual. Which is cool.

Pony up.

Coach Kstar




Gold Medalist Erin Cafaro meeting the minimum daily requirements for self induced hate.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Your Calves Are Tight, Bro

Before we begin, let's get a couple of things straight.

1) You cannot stretch your Achilles Tendon. Straight up. It's the strongest tendon in the body and can be loaded to upwards of 15x bodyweight. It doesn't stretch, period. (We can argue the more technical side of apophysis abruption, or speed of tendon loading some other time.) But suffice it to say, your heel cords are like steel cables.

2) Your grandma's crappy runner's stretch that they showed you in Team in Training, physical therapy, or your third grade gym class won't lengthen your calves either.
You know the stretch, where it looks like you are holding up a wall with your leg extended behind you. You may feel your calf go on tension, but no muscle lengthening is occurring, trust me.

3) Three muscles attach into that common heel tendon; the soleus, plantaris, and gastrocnemius. The gastroc and plantaris both cross the knee and the ankle, but you can forget about the plantaris from here on out.

4) A little 20 second loading (can't even call what most people do to their calves stretching) isn't going to change anything in the back of your leg. Your calves are double under, split jerking, box-jumping, fore-foot striking while running machines.
You really think some pinche load is going to change the length of those freaky strong bastards? NO.

5) You've gotta wind up the calves with big loading at end ranges and at peak tension for 5 seconds before releasing that tension and moving further into a bigger stretch for about 10 seconds. This should be repeated for 5-7 cycles. This is known as contract-relax stretching. We should technically call it muscle lengthening. Contract relax stretching is a small piece of a larger theory of movement facilitation called PNF.

6) If you have knee pain, plantar fascia issues, tight hamstrings, are an olympic lifter, runner, rower, or your heels come off the ground when you front squat or overhead squat---STRETCH YOUR CALVES.

7) Muscles are like obedient dogs. They always respond. Always. "I'm just tight" is a BS excuse. Think of stretching as a dog fight. You need some attitude to get the job done. Ps. It's not relaxing or fun. Two to three times a day should do it if your heel cords suck.

8) Hold your breath while you generate that peak force in the muscle. Let it out like a bursting balloon when you go to reclaim more range during the off cycle. The parasympathetic response from your exhale is important.

8) There's more I'm sure but let's get to it.


The Set Up


With shoes on to support your foot, get as much of the ball of your foot up on the wall as you can. Really wind the sucker up. Step back from the wall to make this happen if you need.



Position One

Now while keeping your leg straight, bring your hip to the wall. This position stretches the entire calf but will also bias the gastrocnemius. (remember the gastroc crosses the knee and ankle) Start your PNF cycles now; 5 second peak tension with a held breath, release 10 seconds into new range.



Position Two



Same set up, but bend your knee as you load the calf. The knee bend puts the gastroc on slack and will bias the soleus. Repeat your 5-7 cycles again.

Post experiences to comments.

Coach Kstar

Monday, November 17, 2008

HouseKeeping!


A few points of business this evening:

1)Please stack the boxes as shown on the left in the picture. They tend to fall apart otherwise.

2)We will be having a the first and greatest-ever SFCF Parallette-Making-Box-Painting-BBQ show down this Saturday from 10am until 1pm(ish).

If you are interested in building your very own set of parallettes to take home, respond to this post by Thursday and bring $25 with you on Saturday. Parallettes are a great way to work on some basic gymnastic skills in the comfort of your own home. I'm sure if you're all really nice to Carl he can show you some party tricks too.

We will have paint on hand to seal-up the boxes from the winter elements. Adding a personal touch to the boxes is highly encouraged.

Bring your own meat/beverages and we will have a grill on-site.

3)Coach Angel has begun teaching CrossFit classes at Planet Granite just down the way from SFCF. He is offering a Tues/Thurs noon class as well as several evening classes. The kind folks at PG have been nice enough to allow any monthly members of SFCF to attend for free, so if you can, go show some support!

4)Big shout out to Corrine for completing her CrossFit Level 1 Seminar this weekend in Union City. Ask her about her 2 PRs in two days. Nice!


Have fun,

Adrian 'Arts-and-crafts' Bozman

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tough to beat...

Ok, so if you wanna win the 'best article of clothing ever worn to SFCF' contest, you have to be willing to top this...



...and on top of this, you have to wear it with style during and after tabata swings, pushups and Koffin Jumps(tm).

> video

Although the award was almost gifted upon Aneel for his stolen-from-the-girlfriend-because-he-forgot-his-own red short shorts (photo lost/destroyed), the Brit had an articulate rebuttal planned for the challenger:



???????

-Boz

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Absolutes


Take your eye's off Frank's impeccible taste for a moment and take heed:

It is easy to fall into a rigid mind frame when dealing with elements of your training. Especially when learning, people are eager to find 'the right way' to approach a task. Often there is no right way, merely an appropriate response to the given situation.

The appropriate response is usually based around three questions: Will my approach be effective? Will my approach be efficient? Will my approach be within an acceptable safety margin (all worthwhile physical activities carry some inherent risk to your person: See Georgia from yesterday)? If yes, then you are good to go. Here are some examples of a rigid mind frame to be avoided as generalists in the pursuit of superior overall fitness:

'I can't because I don't have my weightlifting shoes (special shoes)'

'You should never use a belt. Ever.'

'Tearing my calluses is necessary and expected'

'I can't deadlift in the weightlifting shoes that I just spent 7 minutes tying up to do my cleans and front squats' (that's Kilos by the way)

Etc.

Remember, we are talking about exercise and training methodology here, not law. It is beyond good and evil. Base your actions for the situation at hand, not what you are 'supposed' to do. When one gets too wrapped up in the details of 'supposed to', one potentially sets oneself up with a mental barrier should the elements of 'supposed to' be absent.



Here is John responding to his situation. His final triple on the deadlift at 405lbs was belted. For most sets he doesn't even consider this accoutrement, but opted for it on his last attempt. Totally appropriate for the situation. We wouldn't want John to use the belt on all of his attempts, lest he learn to rely on the belt more than his own muscular garter surrounding his spine, but we wouldn't want him to completely abolish the belt in all situations either.

Absolutes are nonsensical.

-Adrian 'Let's-find-the-middle-ground' Bozman

PS I am starting to catalog SFCF shirt pics in cool locations. So far I have Guam, Australia, Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina...If you've got a pic of an SFCF shirt somewhere awesome, send them to me at adrian AT sanfranciscocrossfit.com.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

See your future, Be your future

video

Look, my daughter is three and makes it all the way across the monkey bars about 50% of the time. When she doesn't make it to the other side, she risks a pretty good drop in an extended and vulnerable position.

Now watch the video again and see if you can catch what she says prior to her attempt.

"I'm going to stick it."

That's right. Even though she knows somewhere that the likelihood of her making it all the way across the bars is about fifty-fifty, she is preconditioning herself for a positive outcome with her positive pre-game self-talk.

Let's talk about you for a moment. What goes on in your head prior to attempting your one rep back squat max that you make 50% of the time? Knowing that you are going to get stapled to the ground half the time likely is going to affect your ability to believe you will make the lift. And, that outcome doubt will reflect in your pre-task self talk. Not unlike a olympic high diver, your body WILL follow your head.

Start paying attention to what that little voice inside you says before you go big.
Does it say, "Light weight!" in the tradition of Ronnie Coleman? Does your inner monologue say, "I'm going to stick it!" like Georgia Starrett above?
Or.
Do you think, "Gawd this is heavy, I can't even breath with this bar on my back. or "I'm not sure I can lift this."

Bottom line, it's time to clean up the self talk.
Don't look where you don't want to go.

Coach Kstar

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Difference Will Be



The great Crossfit Experiment Secret is out of the bag. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people that train for work capacity. And, many of these people are really good athletes. We are witnessing real competence in our foundational movements and elementary programming.

What do we mean? Well, just about anyone that shows up at SFCF and has been crossfitting for a while has a pretty decent Cindy score for example. In fact, we are beginning to see that little disparity exists at the upper output ends of simple gymnastic/bodyweight control based workouts. Sure, there are some freaky scores out there, but literally we are starting to see a lot of people working at near time capacity. The outcome is that our best athletes are only marginally better at foundational type workouts like Helen, Cindy or any body weight/simple output workout.

However, the second some of our most practiced workouts become a little heavier, we have observed significant decreases in outputs between athletes. Changing an overhead squat load within a workout from 95 to 135 pounds literally separates athletes like chafe. And therein lies the difference of good to great. It's not an accident that all of the top athletes at last years CF Games are literally some of the strongest athletes around. And don't be fooled for a moment. Even though there was some increased loading at the games, the events themselves were not heavy. The loading was just heavy enough to illustrate the significant differences in real, non body-weight based movement work outputs.

We have witnessed this loading phenomenon amongst crossfit coaches as well. Make a really good athlete clean 185 or 225 pounds for reps, you start to see people crack and real differences in work output potential emerge.

So instead of chasing a improvement in your Angie time of 4 seconds, try performing a workout you know and rock--at a load where your time begins to significantly drop off.
Can you perform 30 clean and jerks with 135 lbs in under three minutes? Shame on you.
That load should be 155 or 185 pounds. Go out and start failing all over again. And this time make it heavy, because everyone is getting good at runnin' and chinnin'.

After all, in case you've forgotten, 225 is the new 135.

--Kstar



Pam Lauper at 105, not 65. She's a baaad woman not surprisingly.




Alex resting with 155 between burpbee sets.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Practice




The concept of practice should be obvious and instinctual...if you wish to get better at something, it stands to reason that doing that something will start to build your proficiency. It is far easier to talk about, discuss, argue and try to find 'the-one-secret-technique-that-will-make-it-click' than it is to put the work in and learn something new. When that something is physical, your experiential education is a must!

Part of this reluctance to act is rooted in a desire to do well. The old saying 'beginners will look like beginners' is something to keep in mind. There will be process involved. Even the most beastly athletes have things they need to work on, and they'll probably look like kittens doing it (you know, those beastly kittens). Enjoy this. It will never (should never) end.

6am gang post-practice of a few double-unders after being granted the (fleeting) gift of sunlight for a few more weeks:


See you next week,
-Boz

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Fish Oil


Fish Oil

We are not big believers in supplements. Eat well (paleo), combine the right high quality nutrients in the right proportions (zone, athlete's zone--higher fat) and you should be set.

However, you should absolutely be on the fish oil. This stuff is like liquid gold.
Don't believe me? Check out www.omega-research.com. You can throw fish oil and nearly any pathological human physical condition and you will see a positive impact of the stuff.

According to our own nutrition Guru, Robb Wolf, you need between two and five grams of the stuff daily broken up into two doses. You don't need the omega 6's, or 9's as you get plenty of them in the rest of your paleo foods.

We have some friends over at Nordic Naturals in Santa Cruz that extended a 20% discount on their fish oil to Crossfitters (any crossfitter).

Click on the Fish Oil link above or paste this link into your browser. http://www.nordicprodirect.com/patient_join/?mydocid=crossfit

We really don't care what brand you use, just get on the stuff. I like the nordic naturals because I don't burp fish oil all day. Juliet can even take the pills.
The lemon and spiced apple cod liver oil are so good, that my daughter Georgia ASKS for it as a special treat. "Oil please!"

Enjoy! The link doesn't expire.

Coach kstar

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Form Follows Function, This is the Law

It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic,
Of all things physical and metaphysical,
Of all things human and all things super-human,
Of all true manifestations of the head,
Of the heart, of the soul,
That the life is recognizable in its expression,
That form ever follows function. This is the law.
----Louis Sullivan







Legit!

kstar

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Snitting



Snitting is the act of quitting or abandoning a workout or race because it is difficult, or because it does not go as planned. In World Cup level Whitewater Slalom, "snitting" is the lowest form of competitive behavior. But, snitting can be observed in nearly every sport.

When an athlete snits, it speaks volumes about that person's stability under pressure, their developed level of self-efficacy, and their potential capacities as an athlete.
Great athletes never snit. Remember when Bodi Miller lost a ski mid course and finished the race skiing down on one ski? Not a snitter. In the olympics this year, there was a top female American marathon runner that was clearly cramping and having the worst day of her life. She literally walked parts of the course until she could run again. She had many chances to abandon, but she finished--and poorly. Not a snit.

It is rare in a Crossfit workout to actually see someone snit. We have witnessed it a few times in the last three years and when it happens, especially viewed within the context of the global suffering going on around the snitter, it is shocking.

More often though, we witness athletes snitting reps or rounds. Not Snitting is a conscious decision to stay in the pain cave. It is fortitude to finish in last place, but to finish. Honest counting mistakes do occur, but Snitting due to discomfort is a deliberate thumb in the eye of self achievement and very, very low.

We are all going to have bad training days that are based on no sleep, being thrashed from the week's workouts, or bad nutrition. How we deal with the collapse of our performance is probably the most important thing we train for. The larger life metaphor for what snitting behavior represents doesn't even have to be made here.

So don't snit, and (MODIFIED FROM POST DISCUSSION) when you percieve that one of your fellow athletes is close to a snit attack, realize that right then they need you most. Lean over, and tell them to hang on. They'd do the same for you. (Thanks Danny and Ross)

Clearly from the tiger look in his eye, JD above, doesn't even realize that snitting is an option. Neither should you.

Coach kstar

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Pressure Architecture and Mastery



Crossfit really isn't about fitness you know. No seriously, at some point in your life your body will fail, or even cease to exist. Your beautiful lungs and freaky capacity to buffer lactic acid will fade.

Crossfit is really about training the mind. That's right. You are training your brain to be able to perform extraordinary things in pressure cooker situations. People can often perform very complicated and complex tasks under simple situations. Big deal. Ask that same persons to perform that same skill in front of a group, under time constraint, or perceived pressure and they'll crack.



Elite performance for us means that skills are repeatable under all conditions and situations. That's beginning to smell a little like mastery eh? And mastery is only as good as the situations in which it is developed. For example, double-unders are easy, but not when you start to see Aneel develop a huge lead in a workout. Performing double-unders with the simultaneous exposure of that perceived competitive pressure leads to really good outcomes that spill across varied and broad domains that include you life and work life.

In the second photo note that by "taking turns" to perform hand stands, the athletes are practicing performing in front of other people. You almost really can't call something "elite performance" if no one else is around to see you perform it. People like the protected anonymity of triathlons and big running races for a reason. People are naturally very uncomfortable having to perform tasks in front of other people. But, this is the very thing that is required for the completion and development of personal mastery.

Inherent to the Crossfit structure and program architecture are built in opportunities of significant cognitive dissonance through perceived situational pressure. People will either resolve these pressures and progress to mastery, or they'll decided crossfit isn't really for them.

But the real genius about all this exercise cloaked mind training is this: you don't even have to know you are doing it.

You just have to show up and work hard.

Coach Kstar