Saturday, May 31, 2008

Will the real Core Strength please stand up?

You may have noticed that we purposefully omit the dreaded phrase, "core strength", as part of our strength and conditioning lexicon. Don't get us wrong, we obsess over trunk strength. We just want to be clear about differentiating what it is we do from the legions of people out there performing crunches over a physio-ball.

So here's something we think everyone of our athletes should know. Mid-line stabilization (drink if you said core strength in your head) is the capacity to maintain a neutral, stable spine under load or task. Elegant right? And not a single round exercise ball in sight.

For homework, ask someone you know to define "core strength." Then do a shot for uttering that bastard diad.

Check out the beautiful spines below. As a disclaimer, no spines where hurt during the production of these photos.

Coach K

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Power of the L

The L sit is a challenging movement. But beyond looking really cool, there is a hugely functional application to practicing this feat of strength.

Consider this:

The primary role of the abdominal wall is to stabilize the spine against outside forces (unless you are a lumberjack, in which case all those crunches will really pay off in a sport-specific function). By extending the legs beyond the bodies' mid-line, torque is created. The abdominals must stabilize against this torque or the system will fail. The further the legs are extended, the greater the force which must be overcome, the greater the strength demand. Working on a solid L sit will make other '4 minute ab' exercises look silly.

Try finishing your workouts with a few L sits. Start with something conservative, like 15 seconds. Every time you practice try to improve your time by 3-5 seconds. A solid 30 second L sit is a good start...1 minute is pretty bad-ass and 2 minutes is starting to get freaky. Or, get between two chairs right now and give it your best shot. Post best attempt to comments.

L-sits even give Jamie the power of levitation!


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Make Do

We often tell our traveling athletes to: Do what you can do, where you are, with what you have.
And, if it happens to be a beautiful evening, we sometimes feel compelled to make do on the beach.
Under the Goldengate Bridge, in a National Recreation Area, under a beautiful sunset.....

Check out SFCF leveraging their situation.

And: Post caption for last photo to comments.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What Do We Have Here?

Katherine setting the pace for the day ahead. Note the truly overhead position. Nice!

Adam after gutting it out and not backing down.

J.D.'s secret to success. Gives at least +10 to any weightlifting/trans-am related activity...probably -10 to any running/sensitivity related activity

One more reason to put your weights down they don't land on someone not so nicely!

All in a days work!

See you bright and early,

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Paradise Found

Coach K,

Que pasa?

Ok, a little overdue (sorry, no internet for 6 days... welcome to Costa Rica)... here are pictures of me "goating" on the beach with burpies and running.

My parents were in town and my mother was timing my burpies and continuously telling me how crazy I am. Loco baby, loco.

While I still GOAT burpies, with the ocean breeze and beautiful scenery they somehow seem slightly less repulsive... notice I said slightly. But they are a little more challenging in the sand, so maybe they will seem easier when I return.

I really miss my 6 a.m. peeps, will you please give them a shout out for me? Let them know that while I may do my 6 a.m. workout solo, most days I am not officially alone. (Surrounded by Monkeys)

Also, please tell Adrian that I try to "channel him" and fight to push myself harder and picture him saying "How you feeling Becca?" and before I have the chance to respond with a grunt, him answering for me "Never better, right?" The thing is, Adrian is right... the way I feel right now definitely fits into the category of "never better."


Friday, May 23, 2008

Mmmmm Thrusters!!

Who doesn't like these potent little power-producers? All you have to do is couple a heavy object with about 5 (or so) feet of human-powered travel per-rep and viola, instant gas-face! Isn't it nice to know that fantastic fitness can come in such an elegant little package?

Weather it was a hot-date with Fran or a frolic with Jackie, every crossfitter has a special place in their heart for the big T. And when you love something, you can't deny it. So, how did you learn to stop worrying and love the thruster?

Thrust on un-ashamed,


Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Word About Our Family

We strive to make SFCF the Third Place. The third place is a term used in the concept of community building to refer to social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home and the workplace. Third places are "anchors" of community life and facilitate and foster broader, more creative interaction.

As we often point out, SFCF is place where people regularly expose their weaknesses, and openly fail in front of their fellow athletes. Ours is a training table of trust and shared efforts. And shared triumphs.

This last Wednesday, Meghan Kearney (amazing girl in the greenish shirt sitting in the front row with her hand cutely posed by her face) came to our 6pm class having had her first haircut since completing her chemo-therapy for breast cancer.
Wednesday marked about 6 months since she finished her last round. And her hair was looking a little shaggy...

She's remarkable on her own. And we are made more remarkable because we train beside her.

I love my family.

Nice MK!

Coach Kstar

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

We Don't Want You To Either

I have this conversation a lot.

"I don't want to become big and bulky. I put on muscle easily."

"Trust me, I don't want you to be big and bulky either."

"I just feel like I really bulk up if I'm not careful."

"Tell you what, when you start to get too big, let me know and we'll change your programming."


We never have to change our programming.

Coach Kstar

The Sickness

Welcome to Friday, approximately 6:20am.

There are 20 people in this workout-machine. All could have been at home snug in bed, still cozy before the work-day ahead...instead, they've chosen to rise and, at least for a while, suffer.

What kind of sickness infects those crazy team 6ers?

If you happen to see Carl, slap him on the back and ask him about his HUGE Fight Gone Bad PR he set at the Crossfit Level 1 Certification this weekend. Musta been his studying...

We've also received a shipment of new toys. Behold the bevy of beauteous barbells:

Don't hit that snooze,


Monday, May 19, 2008

Transitive Shoulder Relation

Remember your geometry?
Whenever A = B and B = C, then also A = C. Right?
Good, hold that thought.

It is an all too common occurrence that we are asked by our athletes how they might improve their shoulder flexibility so as to improve their overhead lifting capacities. When looking for increases in range and joint flexibility it is easiest to go after the most simple and most obvious impediments first. For example, most athletes that experience difficulty working overhead also have stiff thoracic spines. Duh, obviously Kelly. I don't know why you wasted your time on that stupid doctoral degree...
Bare with me.
Because these athletes have a stiff thoracic spine, they often also lack the ability to achieve good thoracic extension (as if you were laying back over the hood of a car and sticking your chest up in the air).
And, because they don't extend well, their shoulder blades literally have no place to go when they should be moving back and out of the way of the raising arm. Thoracic extension facilitates scapular retraction. Having your shoulder blades get out of the way of your arms effectively eliminates a potentially boney block to your dumbell squat snatch.
"So if she floats, she's made of wood, and she's a witch! Burn her!)
Whenever A = B and B = C, then also A = C
Work on your thoracic extension to improve your overhead badness.

Here's a little proven method to work on your transitive shoulder motion.
Get a couple of tennis balls and some athletic tape.

Tape the tennis balls together length wise.

Tape around the middle "waist" of the thoracic weapon.

Cross your arms over your chest and place the tennis balls anywhere along your rib cage.

Rock side to side and take big breathes until that segment no longer feels tight.

Moving one joint segment at a time, rock side to side and identify any areas that feel stiff. Plan on a 5 minute session.


Coach Kstar

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Complete How-to: Bailing

Ahhh, summer. The warm weather, the long days, the balmy mornings! With the nice weather upon us, attendance has been great! It is fantastic to see so many of you out busting-ass tirelessly, but with the crowd comes an increased demand for spacial-awareness during workouts.

Let's talk bailing out. Specifically from dynamic, overhead lifts. Now we're never squeamish about letting-rip from a missed lift or a potentially bad mechanic, but those two situations are really the only times when an all-out, kitchen-sink bail is necessary.

Bailing is there as an option to keep you SAFE! Safety is always paramount, but alas, most bails are done not out of self-preservation, but out of lazy-ness. We understand that you just held back coughing up a lung for that final push-press, but unless injury looms, control that descent, then rack your weights nicely! Not only is this easier on the equipment, but it eliminates the chances of your errant dumbell/barbell from rolling over into somebody else's personal-space, thereby eliminating the one thing (safety) that bailing promotes.

Think before you bail!

Let's take a look at the bail-out glossary. This glossary purposely omits the "I'm-gonna-Die" injury prevention bail (which is simply get the hell out of the way) because it typically does not need to be taught:

The "Standard", or "I-think-I-need-a-breath-or-two-to-continue"

Key points: Controlled, non-ballistic descent. Barbell is stopped on ground, not rolling towards your partner. Unless you are about to hurt yourself, 99% of all lifts should end like this in a met-con situation.

If you are working from a rack, substitute the barbell in the rack for the ground position. If working with dumbells, nothing really changes.

Grade: A+

The "Turn and Burn"

Key Points: Lifter is not in control. Often accompanied by running in a workout. Lifter does not even see barbell/dumbell hit the ground (or other person/rack/child etc). Bad things happen in group classes with this bail. Don't be that guy/girl/dick. One word describes this bail. Capital L azy-ness!


The "Max Effort"

Key Points: Space is created between object lifted and lifers vital structures (head/face/brain etc). Done after a successful max Clean and Jerk, Snatch or other O-lift where the load is not safe to lower slowly. Also applies for certain o-lift oriented met-cons. Grace comes to mind. Actually improves time, as you are not chasing you bar around after multiple bounces. Lifter follows bar to the ground (watch for the re-bounce) and is sure the bar does not roll-off into the blue.

Grade: A

The "Skin the Cat" or "Nose-Job"

Key Points: Although not as evident in the pictures, this bail happens at full speed. Note the close proximity of bar-to-face. Unless you are really pulling for some emergency surgery, this is not a good option. Get some space between your body and the bar!

Grade: F

Special Bonus: "Too-Damn-Heavy", back squat edition.

Key points: Drop arms straight down by sides. Step/jump forward. Make sure you communicate with your spotter/people spectating and let your intentions be known, should the lift go sour, BEFORE starting. Ideally, you are never working ridiculously outside of your comfort-zone, even when attempting a PR and a spotter can help you grind-it-out. This is really a last ditch maneuver when flying solo, or there are no experienced spotters around (inexperienced spotters can be as dangerous as not knowing how to bail).

There you have it. Control is good. Dental work costs a lot of money (ask Aneel) and it's especially pricey if you're paying for someone else's. Stay safe, if you know what I mean.

See you at 6, -Boz


The New Record Board is up! Only witnessed attempts at SFCF are counted and must be performed AS WRITTEN and scribed in by one of the coaches!

Once again, the board is for the top 5 male/female AS WRITTEN scores...your own slot on the other board is for any modifications etc. until you can get to the big board. The caveat is the new "Monthly PR" section. Any PR you have can be written in max set of 5 on the turkish Get-up...added 10lbs to the bar on my last Fran attempt...any and all will be highlighted for the month, then wiped clean to prepare for the next months highlights. Get after it!


Open Gym on Saturdays has been well attended lately! This is great! It will continue to be a free service to our monthly members, however standard drop-in fees will now apply to daily/non-monthly trainees. Spread the word!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Goat Roller

One of my most hated Goats (review a few posts back for the "goat concept") is trying to manage my very tight quads and IT Bands. My legs have been tight pretty much since high school. Or at least, that's when I became aware of having steel sheets running from my hips to my knees. I used to actually brag about them. Now, not so much.

Many of us are well aware that we have special areas that require constant maintenance. But most of us still pretend that the magic stretching fairy is going to come down and cure our tight quads. Right. Oh and setting a PR on Fran won't make you any more loose either.

You've got to work at it every day. I keep my foam roller right next to the couch. I can't miss it.

See if you can match the caption with the photos below.

1) I'm so drunk, I feel so happy I should kill this buzz somehow, and quickly. Hey! Mr. Foam Roller of death! What's up fishin' buddy?

2) Dooder, I'm so blissed out mellow. I mean, when the pain stops and I'm no longer bleeding from the eyes, I feel so good! Let's make a sexy squat time!

3) I will end you. I should just amputate my legs, it will hurt less!

Bottom line, get a foam roller and seek out all of your "goat" areas. Roll around till you throw up. Now crush those sore spots and make them beg. You'll get faster, stronger, will feel better, and you'll be free knowing that you are able to survive torture.

Make a public pledge in the comments below to work on your stretching/trigger point/inflexibilty. ex: My name is Kelly and I have tight quads.

Coach trigger-point-star.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Working out at SFCF involves a skill set. This is deliberate and intentional. The development of a physical education takes just that: skills. You can not claim to be fit if you aren't well versed in moving your body or an external object.

This is where technique comes into play. Technique really only serves two purposes: To achieve the goal of the exercise safely and efficiently. The former will lend life to your training longevity, the latter will increase your competence, confidence and ultimately your intensity.

The novice who wishes to remain a novice can do so by ignoring the work that must be done to understand a movement, charging head-long into a workout without proper understanding of what is required. The novice who wishes to see rapid improvement will invest a little extra time in the initial learning stages to make sure things are peachy. Without this foundational layer, little can be built on top.

When practicing, ask yourself if your technique is safe. If so, what can you do to be more efficient. Address the bigger problems first. Then, if they are fixed, start addressing the minutia.

Now, that being said, there is only one way to learn many of these movements...doing them! The novice above wishing to remain as such will do so by avoiding the physical experience of performing these movements. It is far easier to talk about training than it is to 'get under the bar'. You must find your own balance between movement analysis and experience. Don't rush your technique, but don't spend all day in 'analysis paralysis' either!

What strategies do you have for working/refining your technique on complicated movements?

Adam recently attended his Crossfit Lv 1 certification seminar here. I believe he performed a 90second PR Fran sometime that weekend amidst dozens of squats, presses, technique lectures etc. Nice work Adam!

Work them basics,

Monday, May 12, 2008

No Torque Please

In physics, a torque (τ) is a vector that measures the tendency of a force to rotate an object about some axis (center). The magnitude of a torque is defined as force times the length of the lever arm. In plain weightlifting english, the further away the object that you are trying to lift is from your body, the less effective you are going to be at lifting that object straight up. Because, the further the bar is from your body, the more your energy has to go into resisting the torque being generated by you. Not only do you have to expend energy to remain upright, but with the bar out past your feet you've got to change the force vector of your jump, pull, or push, and you've effectively limited the potential of your own body's leverage. Buzz kill.

Note that in the photo of Olliver above, the bar has brushed up his shirt after his second pull. Obviously he has figured out that the closer that he can keep that bar to his body, the more effective he is going to be generating vertical force. The shirt lift is a nice cue and easy to spot in a very quick lift like the clean or snatch.

Now on to the nitpick. Note that while Olli is hitting excellent full extension and that the bar is caught in his shirt, there is still some distance between his stomach and the weight. The distance between the two is the lever arm or moment arm. Remember our physics above? Doubling the distance between the stomach and the bar doubles the effective length of the lever and doubles the torque. So now it is twice as hard to resist getting pulled forward onto your toes into the dreaded "poo position." Note also that Olli isn't actually jumping straight up, but that he's actually jumping backward (slight body lean) a little to compensate for the fact that he has to adjust for the bar being a few extra inches from his skin. Olli is trapped. He has to give away some of his hard earned vertical force for a little counter balance back lean force. And, you can bet your sweet self that Andrew Henry is going to try and exploit this small inefficiency. Two inches of extra torque is two too many.

Keep it close, and keep the torque down. Please.

Coach moment about the axis-star.

Universal Recruitment Patterning

If Aliens existed (Clearly they do, Adrian was abducted and given freaky powers after the probing.) and were to examine your muscles, brain, bones, muscle attachments, and joints, they would come up with elemental human movements like the squat, press, deadlift, etc. No one invented the squat, a few hundred thousand generations of human evolution endowed you with a set of hamstrings, glutes, and quads designed to lower your center of gravity and increase your base of support while at the same time being able to generate huge amounts of force (i.e. the Squat, if you didn't recognize it by it's longish other name).

A quick glance at the fitness landscape would have you believe that you are additionally wired to perform the likes of "cable wood chop twists" while sitting on a rubber ball. And you can to be sure, but you were never intended to. Doing so moves you into a lower valence shell of potential fitness efficacy.

The real question is: When and how did we stop moving correctly? When did we start knee bending instead of squatting? Or, at what age did we "decide" to start to heel strike during a casual run down a trampoline in red star leggings? Ask Georgia and she'll say never. Turns out she's wired to have pretty near perfect POSE running technique. Oh, I guess someone didn't invent that fancy running style either. They just invented how to teach it to us again after we'd already forgotten it.

Coach Kstar

Friday, May 09, 2008

Friends are for...

...helping you out of the hole on your last set of ring dips:

...getting your ass off the ground while you grind through those pistols:

...making sure your handstand pushups don't turn into a make-out session with the stall-mats...

What are your friends at SFCF for?

See you at 6,

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Inner Workings of A Blog Post, The Ugly Truth

An internal conversation with Kstar and himself. Being kstar Macolvitch. Malcovitch.

Ok, It's my turn to write for the Blog tonight. "Can't let Boz down." " Gotta put the love out there for my super athletes."

What have I got in the tank....
Well, it was just Cinco de Mayo. Didn't Coach Kevin join us for his first workout that day we had the CDM Olympics? That was the workout where Aneel hung on the fence and puked budlight right? (See above photo for pre-workout briefing).

Hmmm, guess I should call out how glad we are to have had Kevin join us for the last year. (I'll post a photo of Kev working out in that first week he was here...see below) He's a great coach and amazing athlete. So glad to have him. Happy Anniversary Chains!

You know, look at the first photo. Wow, there are a ton of SFCF regulars in that photo. There are a bunch of our core crew that have been with us for a long time.
Now that's a post.

Where were you a year ago? "Post the most embarrassing aspect of your Pre-crossfit workout life to comments".

What's this photo next to the one of Kevin in I photo?

Hey it turns out you can have "Don't be that girl" too! "Wonder if anyone can guess who this is? Post guesses to comments."
Don't be that girl.

Coach Kstar the Thursday night blogger.