Monday, June 30, 2008

Five Fingered Fat Attack

Often during our warm-up, our athletes find themselves walking around in a full squat with their hands up behind their heads. We encourage them to go and take a certain number of steps and find out what their fellow athletes have had as a fat source for breakfast. This wonderful hip opener is affectionately called "pigs on ice skates". This morning, if an athlete was found out not to have had any fat prior to workout, they had to perform some dynamic encouragement (aka. pushups).

We often find that many of our morning athletes have failed to consume any fat at all and are working out in a fasted state or missing this vital macro-nutrient. Some of our super jocks actually meet their fat intake with whole milk or half and half in their coffee. Clearly even a few almonds will do. The dietary fat dearth is often more indicative of a larger nutritional problem, mainly that while some people know how many grams of protein they've consumed, they don't actually know how much fat they've had.

This is a problem. You should treat your fat source like you do your protein (ie. organic free range, grass fed beef with names and child sleep partners).

We consider the glucagon/insulin teeter toter to be balanced out. Protein on one side and carbohydrate on the other. In the middle, as a teeter totter neutral fuel source, is good old fat. So get some, and make it quality would you?

Coach kstar

Friday, June 27, 2008

It's almost like this sh*t works....

We needed to give a special shout out to one of our hardest working, best performing athletes--Bernard Lauper (aka. Mac Daddy).

About seven months ago MacDaddy began a quest to drop under 15% bodyfat. Yesterday, after seven months of no wine, Bernard hit 11%. He has dropped from roughly 201 lbs. to about 178lbs. Scroll down now to the bottom to see the results.

Do we care about body fat? It's only a correlate to fitness right? Even in this case Bernard was an absolute monster as his bigger self. But remember, the lightest strongest athlete wins. Mac Daddy is now running his freakishly powerful engine on a much smaller, lighter car. And he looks even better naked were told.

More to the point, the photos above were literally from a year ago. Mac was already "zoning" but still a little loose and drinking a little wine.
But when he cleaned it all up, the results were and are dramatic.

Mac Daddy just stopped making excuses.
If you are ready to make significant changes in your body composition, get serious about it. Even though Bernard is less of a man than he was, he's twice the beast.

Check out the gleam in his chocolate and wine wielding eyes.

Congrats Mac D!

Coach Kstar

Thursday, June 26, 2008

It's not Gonna Be Easy

Now, that may be the understatement of the year. We all are intimately aware that CrossFit workouts are no walk in the park (and if they are, you probably need to be moving faster, if all mechanics are in check). This is no mistake. It's all about power.


The ability to move our bodies and other objects quickly and safely is really what we are after. Power is intensity. We measure it in one metric or another just about every workout. Unfortunately, producing massive power-output is quite uncomfortable. Ever wonder why there are so many recreational 5k runners, yet so few recreational 400m sprinters? The 6am group this morning knows the's damned uncomfortable.

The question that should be out of your mouth next then is why? Why is Power so important?

Well, intensity really is the key. If there is something that can be achieved by an exercise program, intensity (training your thresholds so they are no longer that) will get you there. Want to be stronger? Faster? More powerful? Have more bone density? Lose weight? Intensity will play an important role for all. Now, we've already established that intensity is power, so power is where the good shit is!

Police at the San Jose PD getting familiar with some intensity.

See You at 6,


PS here's a great clip on Dustin Carter, who came up in discussion this morning. You can find a bunch of clips on Dustin on youtube or google video. This guy knows how to work!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Handling Heavy

Let's get a few things straight:

1) Deadlifting is vital for the development of the complete athlete. Period.
Typically the more you can deadlift, the better you move through the athletic world.

2) Deadlifting is as elemental a movement as exists. We pick things up off the ground all the time. Some of these things are heavy. You have to plan and train for this contingency.

3) Deadlifting packs an enormous neuroendocrine wallop. You brain and pituitary recognize this movement as important and flood your body with hormones and pre-hormones that reinforce this hip extension. And this chemical response makes you a younger, more healthy animal.

4) If you want a sexy, small, rock-hard butt that works you should be deadlifting.
(Who doesn't right?)

5) Deadlifting trains the athlete to maintain a neutral spine under load while extending the hip. This potentially prevents blown out discs and flexion related back injuries.

Handling maximal loads in the Deadlift should approximate sub-maximal loads in terms of body position and movement. Specifically, even if the athlete is approaching their peak lift weight, we shouldn't see deformation of spine or deviation away from intial set up.

For example, both athletes above are about to complete lifts that are withing 5% of their best efforts. Both athletes have a "neutral low back" and are therefore safe.
However, note the upper back rounding that is occurring in Adam. He has left his good/strong/stable set up for a less than ideal pulling finish. Is he safe? Sure. But in deviating from best form, he will ultimately limit his potential to handle an even larger weight safely.

Failing to lift heavy loads happens all the time. We expect our athletes to fail at high weights and to understand that this failure looks the same as deadlifting a very light weight.

How does your deadlifting failure look? Like Coach Diane, or Adam?

Lift on!

Coach kstar

Monday, June 23, 2008

Double Dip

We use the term 'Gymnastics' to talk about all exercises that involve manipulation of our own bodyweight...there isn't an external object that needs to be controlled or moved. Squats, Lunges, Back Extensions, and pullups all fall into this category.

So do pushups.

If we take the ordinary pushup and rotate the body so it is no longer parallel to the floor but instead perpendicular with the head above the feet, we have a dip position. If we take the pushup and rotate the body perpendicular again, but this time have the feet over the head, we have a handstand pushup position. Ideally we want capacity across all 180 degrees. The pushup is indeed a versatile tool!

Some tips for your dips:

When just starting out, approach these the same way you would pullups:

-Negatives to build strength when the volume is moderately low.

-Jumping Dips when the volume is high and the exercise is in the middle of a hideous met-con monster.

-Make sure you get proper depth to insure the development of the full range of the exercise...shoulders below the elbows and arms straight at the top.

-Keep the elbows pointing backwards and the shoulders pulled back. This places the shoulder in a much nicer position with far less internal rotation of the humerus.

When was the last time you took a dip?


PS Please do not leave your used gum on the sign-in table. There will be a serious burpee penalty for that one....

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Work Recovery Intervals

Classically, Crossfit operates on two principle workout-restday intervals.
The first is that our athletes train with a three days on, one day off split.
The second is a model based on training five days in a row and then taking two days off. There is no magic in these two systems other than the fact that they both attempt to accomplish the same end. Mainly, both attempt to have the athlete complete as much work as possible AND remain as fresh as possible.

Being that we are not just automaton meat puppets however, means that the work rest intervals above may not fit us very well or be dynamic enough to meet our recovery needs. Remember training hard is just a stimulus for adaptation to occur during periods of rest. We have seen many athletes train 6-10 days in a row only to smoke themselves into poor performing, crappy feeling pseudo-athletes. Training at the intensities that we do has significant impact on our nervous systems as well as our muscles. As much work as possible and as fresh as possible remember?

So, you may need to adjust your level of rest, or tweak your recovery days. For example, if you have just completed two epic days of training, you may need to take an early day off to recover. Just trained three days in a row? Feel trashed? It may take two full days to recover. Many of our athletes train four days in a row, take off Friday, and train again on Saturday. And again, this is fine so long as you continue to recognize that a rigid work-rest schedule may not reflect your actual recovery needs. For example, we have many top performing athletes that respond to one day on, one day off during periods of very heavy, high intensity training.

Don't get me wrong, it's OK to train when you're sore. And, we actually like our athletes over trained a little. But, we expect that our athletes understand that the magic of working hard is recovering well.

Lauren from the "Fugees" said it best, "How you gonna win if you ain't right within?" I'm sure she was talking about Crossfit.

Coach Kstar

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Man, The Beast, The Wolf

The CrossFit community boasts an impressively diverse cadre of coaches. If the name Robb Wolf is not familiar to you, it should be. Robb is a good friend of ours at SFCF. He is not only one of the smartest people you'll ever meet, but also a damn fine physical specimen. If you are interested in improving your health and well being, take a peek at some of his musings at guarantee you'll learn something new!


Monday, June 16, 2008

National Champions

As some of you may know, for the last two years Coach Boz and I have been moonlighting with SFCF across the bridge for the Marin Rowing Association. SFCF was asked to provide strength and conditioning programming for the girls Varsity junior crew program at Marin Rowing.

This past Sunday, our girls won the National Championship held in Ohio. Marin defeated the reining champions by over three seconds in the final 2k and posted the fastest times at the regatta.

Pray these girls don't show up in one of your classes. They know how to work, very, very hard.

Hmmm, it's like this Crossfit stuff works eh?

Go Marin!

Coach Kstar

Saturday, June 14, 2008

And now for Something Completely different...

I've had the pleasure of being part of the Crossfit Certification at the Camp Pendleton Marine Base this weekend. Our gracious host Jimi Letchford took us out on the Marine Corps obstacle course today on our lunch break. It was definitely a good time! Check it out:

We ran this bad-boy through twice top to bottom (a double o-course), rested and then ran it backwards once immediately followed by forwards once. Good times! Next time you decide to go for a run, pick a straight line and see if you can navigate the obstacles you come across.

See you Monday,


Friday, June 13, 2008

Glute-Ham What? (Who's Down with GHD?)

This princely piece of kit is the Glute-Ham Developer. Let's call him uncle GHD for short (we're all family here, right?). You may have noticed him hanging around SFCF behind the scenes...he's not always in the spotlight, but he's always there.

Because there are usually many more of you than there are of him, we don't program our 'main course' workouts to include a ton of GHD work. This doesn't mean that our main man should be neglected. Uncle GHD's job is exactly what one might think: Develop the Glutes, Hamstrings, and, well, the entire posterior chain. Posterior chain development, as you all have experienced in just about any CrossFit workout, is key to athletic development. If we can get those hip extensors firing fast and furious while at the same time creating and maintaining a rigid spine capable of handling that massive force, we can improve cleans, deadlifts, rowing, running, jumping, throwing, punching etc. We practice this with the hip extension (seen in the video below). But you all know that.

Another talent that GHD has is the ability to teach you when you are out of position and how to return to a good, neutral, loadable position. This is an invaluable skill that most people do not come pre-programmed with. A little practice goes a long way in creating this postural awareness. This awareness and ability to 'return to neutral' goes a long way in preventing injury and all sorts of unpleasant-ness when dealing with heavy loads. Check it out in the 'Back Extension' and 'Back and Hip Extension' shown here.

And we haven't even gotten to Uncle GHD's sucker-punch of a situp yet! Check out how much ROM (range of motion) you get out of ol' GHD's situp!

The interesting thing to note is that the abs are performing their natural, primary function of stabilizing the spine. That is, they are NOT responsible for your return-trip to the top. The hip flexors are. The abs brace against the massive hip flexor force that has the potential to pull your spine in all sorts of uncomfortable directions, just like in real-life! One thing to watch for on the GHD situp...legs must be straight on the way up. Watch the clip again. Note how on Nicole's 'Bad' situp her legs do not straighten on the way up. This means her psoas does most of the work. Due to the point of attachment of the psoas on the sacrum and lower spine, this can cause some undue discomfort. Straighten those legs! Ask your coach for help if you're unsure.

The next time you're early for class or need a little something something to cool down with, think of good ol' Uncle GHD. He's always there for you, waiting with out-stretched arms. Hell, I bet if we changed GHD's name to Athletic Potential Developer he might receive a little more attention. That's not really his style, though.

Remember, uncle GHD can teach you many things, but Uncle GHD will not beg.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Brainwashing, Time Change, and Fight Gone Bad

Hey Gang!

A couple of notes:

1) Saturday's Level II class will begin at 7:30 AM instead of 7:45AM.
We apologize for the loss of sleep.

2) Saturday will officially be Fight Gone Bad so prepare mentally.

3) Just want you to be sensitive to Georgia when she has to get therapy much later.

Georgia: "My dad had me doing burpbees for fun. I didn't even know how wrong that was."

Therapist: "Yeah! Burbpees!"

Coach K

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Poseidon's Trident

Two athletes, locked in battle, longing only for pastel sunsets and the ocean's cool breeze. One will emerge the victor, one forever shamed where the land meets the sea...

One of the most athletic skills one can learn is how to 'hand off' power from the hips to the shoulders. This skill was developed by way of the dumbell clean today at SFCF. How many other movements can you think of that utilize this skill? Post thoughts to comments.

On a side note, make sure you put your equipment back where you found much as your coaches love cleaning up after you let's not leave the box looking like this:

See you at 6am,

Monday, June 09, 2008

To Train Rotation, Resist Rotation

Common wisdom in the modern gym goes, that to train for sports that include an element of rotation like golf, you must perform rotational strength elements. This is just a fancy way of saying that performing seated cable torso twists is a useful exercise to build rotational power.

This is wrong.

Nearly every sport that has significant trunk rotation as a movement element develops that rotation from the hips downward. That is, significant rotation occurs starting at the ground. The implication of this is that in order to effectively transfer the twisting/rotary forces from the hips to the trunk, the muscles of the torso have to be able to effectively RESIST the rotation happening below. Otherwise, the hips would clearly turn and the shoulders would not.

Rotational strength then, comes from being able to apply a solid isometric force at the trunk that effectively captures the potential energy from the rotating hips below. The quality of this isometric force equates to the quality and effectiveness of the transmission between wheels and engine.

We have found that the best way to develop rotational prowess is to actually have our athletes resist active rotation as in the single arm dumbell swing above. Universally training to resist rotation instead of actually performing rotational training develops better integrated, more powerful athletes. (IE. you don't have to perform cable wood chops to hit the tennis ball harder) And this applies to side rotation too. Pull ups and overhead squats appear to magically dissipate bike sway during climbing for example.

There is merit in developing torso rotational speed. Throwing a light four pound medicine ball for speed can help develop twisting quickness and futher develop that twisting motor pathway. Just be sure to keep it light and fast.

And don't confuse integrated trunk power with swinging a very heavy bat, or seated cable twists.

Twist on!

Coach Roto-Star

Sunday, June 08, 2008

"Unless your opponent has astudied his "a Grippa", which I have."

Once in a while we hear from our athletes that the most problematic part of a workout was their gripping capacity. Go ahead and try a high volume couplet of pullups and kettlebell swings if you don't believe us. Fortunately, grip is rarely the limiting factor in our work capacities. (sucking usually is the main problem)

Sometimes however, training your "hanging tough" skills can be fun. Just don't confuse forearm strength training (seasoning) with the meat and bones of working out (main course).

Check out Ross rocking the NKOTB contest.

Coach K (aka the right stuff)

Friday, June 06, 2008

You're Pregnant? Shouldn't You Be Doing Yoga or Something?

Believe it or not, exercise guidelines for pregnant women are vague at best. Common sense would dictate that a expecting mom shouldn't begin a new freaky hard exercise program if she wasn't already accustomed to it. And, baby hosts should perform movements to their fullest available ranges and discard exercises or activities that don't feel good. (Burbpees suck enough already without banging your unborn athlete into the ground)

Women and coaches alike should know that there are a few symptomatic pregnancy conditions that might preclude strenuous exercise, and your doctor will make these very clear.

On the whole however, as long as the female pre-mom athlete recognizes that she is exposed to greater ligamentous laxity than normal (a condition by the way made less troublesome with good strengthening and joint stability training) and is pain free, she is pretty much free to train as hard as she likes.

Check with your Doctor of course....

Seeing my wife Juliet bust out pushups, squats, and saw presses after dinner on a Tuesday after putting our three year old to bed does remind me that we are always capable of training around injuries, old orthopedic problems, disease, colds, and "delicate" conditions.

When you are dealt the hand of the specialist, become a specialist at training. If you have a bum knee, then it's time to work on pullups. Sprained your ankle? How are your handstand pushups. You are limited in your "modified" training by the limits of your imagination. You may even need a good coach to help you see the possibilities. But by all means, keep training.

Even if you are training for two like the Jstar above.

No Excuses,

Coach K

Tasty Tasty

The Big N word is really really important. Not just to make you a super-stud(ette) beast in a workout, but for overall health. Recently, more and more people are coming to the realization that it is not the particular caloric intake or demonization of certain macronutrients (namely fats) that cause undue stress and sickness to our bodies, but our body's hormonal response to the food we ingest.

The body's hormonal system is a complicated one. For the most part, our understanding of this multi-faceted interplay is just scratching the surface. One thing is becoming more and more clear: the hormone insulin can be controlled by the foods we eat and the loss of sensitivity to insulin has devastating effects on the body as a whole.

There are many dietary strategies that can help to control the body's production of, and sensitivity to, insulin. All of these diets offer the same advice, albeit in a different package: too many carbohydrates lead to elevated levels of insulin and poor health. The bottome line: if you are reading a book offering dietary advice and there is no room in the glossary for a decent explanation of insulin, the book is junk.

If you are not following a regimented eating plan, try this for homework:

Watch this clip.

For 1 month (you can do just about anything for a month), come hell or high water, do this:

Men: No more than 45 grams of carbohydrate in a sitting. No less than 27 grams of protein in a sitting. Do not worry about anything else.

Women: No more than 36 grams of carbohydrate in a sitting, no less than 18 grams of protein.

Both groups can eat as many leafy green veggies (spinach, arugula, lettuce, broccolli, kale, collards etc.) as they want. Record what happens. That's it. All it will take is a few days of looking at the label of your favourite foods to figure out the quantities. You are currently sitting in one of the best laboratories for experiment ever built. Try something (like the above, and be legit about it) and record what happens. Do some internal travelling. It's worth it.

On a side note, Georgia is hot. And humid. Turns out Florida is too. Here I am at the end of a workout at FLETC.

Here's what got me that sweaty:

Your tax dollars at work, Federal Agents performing Fran under the Georgia sun:

Sorry I don't have any pictures of you guys to throw up, but I'll be back on Monday. Keep kicking ass until then,


Thursday, June 05, 2008

At Full Compression, Create Length

Key Concept:
Seek to create length during peak movement compression.

Key Image:
Attempt to store energy during these moments of peak tension like a stretched spring.

Key Example:
Molly and Erin at lift off.
Note the length of the hamstrings and the distance between sacrum and neck. Length is power.

Don't compress at compression.

Coach K

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

On the Road...Deep South

As a Crossfitter you are equipped with the tools to create a world-class training facility wherever you happen to find yourself. I've been in South Georgia helping to train instructors at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Crossfit Methodology. Despite the crazy humidity that hits you like a wet-blanket every time you step outside, I managed to rope another trainer into a little fun at the pool Tuesday evening.

Here's our gym:

I see a great little lap pool, a stellar spot for some handstand pushups and an L-sit station to die for. What do you see?

Our workout was simple:

Three lengths of the pool
5 handstand pushups
15 Squats

Max rounds in 15min.

Our Reward:

BBQ, by the way, is one of the easiest zone-fits out there...a little protein and fat(smoked meat) a little carbohydrate (greens and baked beans) and you're good to go. On the road or not, there's no excuse to not get the job done!!

See you back on the West (Best ;) Coast,


Monday, June 02, 2008

New Month, New PR

For those of you in the know, June has already begun! That means the old May records have had their time in the sun (or fog/mist etc). Great job by all, but now's the time to get cracking on some new PRs!

Speaking of self-improvement, it is now officially starting the 6th month after new-years. How are your goals coming? On track? Off the rails completely? Way ahead of schedule? If you're not sure, maybe it's time to start that journal. Post your second-half goals to comments.

Looks like K-Star knocked one off the list early (205lbs snatch):