Friday, May 29, 2009


Much discussion is given about the best way to 'game' certain workouts. With the rise in popularity of events such as the CrossFit Games (and the popularity of CrossFit in general), many people seem to be equating 'best workout' with 'best strategy for a particular workout', instead of best effort put forth on a particular workout.

Let's look at a very basic example, the CF workout 'Helen', which is done for total time:

400m Run
21 Kettlebell Swings
12 Pullups
Repeat 3x

If competition was important to me and I absolutely had to beat Kelly and Angel (it's an ego thing...), I would be reluctant to go too hard on the running as I am a total hack runner. By dogging it on the run, I'll remain relatively fresh for the things I'm already good at, most likely resulting in a lower overall time. This is great if my goal is to beat Kelly and Angel. This is not so great if my goal includes not being lame at things I'm already lame enough at.

Now, knowing that I am a hack runner, what physical improvements to my running do I receive from being a big baby on the run (Hint: lower total time/better score does not always equal direct physical benefit)? How do I expect to become better at running hard and recovering if I never subject myself to that at the very time I should Training!

And there lies a bit of a disconnect in many people's training. The gaming of workouts has become standard practice for many of us despite the fact that we have no desire to be 'Best CFer On Earth'. Instead, the focus should be 'How can I bring my weak points up?'. The answer is to put forth the best effort possible on the things you are not good at, even if it means you blow up later on. That's what practice is for. Does it really matter if you struggle in training? Will your world end if you don't finish first, but you really give it your all on something that is difficult for you? My guess is that you will find the final product to be much more capable and complete if the stopwatch or scorecard is not your only reference while training.

Personally, I find that when I start worrying too much about the number on the timer for too many workouts, I train myself out of the ability to put forth a truly max effort: My body (and mind) has been conditioned to hold back for fear of what's next. The timer hides my quality of effort on the things I am reluctant to push. Lately some 'quality of effort' workouts have been turning this tide around. These workouts all include plenty of rest between efforts and each effort is the best I can put forth in that moment. Things like:

-How far can I carry/drag/push that thing?
-How far up the hill at Buena Vista park can I sprint (not run) before I have to stop?
-How many reps can I get (think back squats etc) before I have to rack the bar?
-How many pushups can I make Angel do with a 100lb Sandbag on his back (answer: a lot)

Now, if competition is your thing and gameday is looming, obviously you do what you need to do inside the rules of competition to maximize your showing. I'm not suggesting that anyone who is gaming or strategizing a workout is not putting forth a good effort, but don't let this mindset invade every aspect of your training. There is a reason that high level athletes of all stripe do not care about winning at every single practice or training camp. They are too busy trying to get better.

The stopwatch is a useful tool, but it is also blind to the quality of the individual effort.

-Adrian 'Faster-Isn't-Always-Better' Bozman

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Be Nice, Your Wrists Work Hard

Hey Kelly,
I injured my wrist at the bottom of a squat clean, and wonder if that's something common enough to warrant a blog post...I know a lot of people who've had trouble with the same kind of thing. What's the best bet for building up (or regaining) wrist strength/flexibility, etc.? My wrists are definitely the weak link for me in several exercises.

Thanks again,


It's true. The receiving position of full clean can be brutal on your wrists, not to mention front squats and the worst of all, thrusters. It's not uncommon that athletes end up with some sort of wrist tweak from one of these movements from time to time.
There are a few things that you can do to PREVENT significant wrist hurtage.

1) Warm up your wrists! These poor boys are the linkage between your 400lb front squat and your hips. Be cool and show them some serious love before you start red-lining. Think of your wrists as conduits for some very high tension wires. Most of the time for wrist neutral activities, you can count on your wrists not needing much care and feeding, but as soon as you even start thinking about some high speed wrist extension some alarms should start sounding.

-Be sure your core temperature is up. If you have a sweat going, chances are you're wrists are warm enough too. Cold tendons, confined tendon boxes (wrists), and at high speed is uncool. Very un-dude.

-Start your wrists slowly (not dynamically) into the position of emphasis. You'll probably notice that just getting into a front squat rack position is a little tough on your wrists. So don't go jamming them into a challenging position with an additional speed insult. Doode, be cool.

-Give your wrists some slack. Make sure your thoracic spine is mobile enough that you don't have challenge your wrist positioning unnecessarily. (see below)

-Be sure to release any hook grip you may employing. That hook grip wonder is really expensive when you use it at the receiving position.

-Make sure your other soft tissues support a more wrist neutral position. So, stretch arm flexion limiting structures like your triceps and lats.

-Move your grip a little wider out. Too many people use too narrow a grip. This narrow grip reduces your shoulder positioning options and makes for a tougher wrist position. Widen your grip and let your elbows come out to at least a 45 degree angle from your body if you are tall or if you are a little wrist compromised.

-Try wrapping your wrists (check for an old post about homemade wraps) or using a more serious wrist wrap from

-Do you work on strengthening your grip? It's obvious, but under-untilized. At the end of every work out work on your grip. Ask your coach how or google "grip strength" and "milo".

-In light movements that don't require a perfect rack like the thruster, drop your elbows down a little, just be sure not to drive them into your legs when you are at full compression at the bottom of your squat. Elbow-knee contact will break your wrist so if you are going to be risky, don't be that guy.

-Practice receiving the bar at the shoulder rack position while changing the
position the bar rests in your hands. You may have to fingertip it, but either
way, one centimeter in your palm either way can have a significant effect on your
wrist position. Cleaning is a high skill activity, there are som small details to which you will have to start paying attention.

-If your wrists are manky, clean just the bar at least 30 times before you even dream of putting weight on that thing.

-I know a bunch of people that use a more dangerous open grip in situations like the press and thrusters to unload the wrist. This is more dangerous, but it works. Heck there is recent video of bench pressing beast Dave Tate using the open bench press grip. (And he's no ass-sponge)

Do you have a wrist tweak? Don't talk to me until you've started icing that thing at least a couple of times a day. And, if you do have wrist issues, choose your extreme wrist extensions wisely. Handstands and push-ups might be need to be done in a neutral position on dumbells or paralleletts. Your wrists might only tolerate so much silly bull-shite in one day. If you are having a continued problem,
go see a good physio.

Above all. Be nice. You will miss your wrists when they are gone.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Heads Up!

This weekend SFCF is hosting the Affiliate Cup Throwdown. Here's the Skinny:

Where?: SFCF 610 Old Mason Street

What?: A team workout for teams of 4-6.

When?: 11:00am this Saturday.

The workout will be tough. And awesome. And perhaps less conventional than what goes on inside a CrossFit gym.

Spread the word!!


Sunday, May 03, 2009

Don't Save Anything For the Swim Back

This weekend found some of the SFCF kids hanging it out there at the Nor Cal regional Crossfit Games qualifier. And while the competition was fierce, we are always blown away by how much more untapped capacity our athletes have.

What is it about us as athletes that requires extraordinary circumstances in order to
elicit our best?

How about Mike D (Captain Flabongo) cleaning his PR 10 times during a little short ten
minute piece?


A little thing called my first 10 muscle ups, ever.
Way more impressive pulling out the last Muscle up in the final 15 seconds than the other two top 5 finishes in the other wods. Nice work Dizzle.

Or, C-Rin jerking about her bodyweight 10 times like it was nothing.

Or, Gravelly-nice laying down the third fastest row-burbpee-jerk wod?

In the great movie Gattica, Ethan Hawke is telling his brother how he was always able to beat him in their private swimming battles. He turns to his big brother and says, "I never saved anything for the swim back".

All you had to do was watch the classy, humble man-beast Coach Angel this weekend to understand what it was that Ethan Hawke meant. Turns out Angel qualified for the Crossfit Games this weekend with performances that were inspiring and brilliant.

So,put yourself in the pressure cooker. See what turns up. Chances are you will.