Thursday, October 30, 2008

Motor Solution

A great deal of the success of Crossfit is predicated upon the unique motor learning that it forces the athlete to perform. We consistently see skyrocketing athleticism occur in our athletes not only because they are stronger and more fit, but because of the constant movement/motor learning that they undergo. One of the central tenets of fitness in a 100 words or less is, "learn to play new sports". For nearly all of us without an olympic lifting, gymnastics background, Crossfit ends up feeling like a new sport.

Within the framework of a typical crossfit WOD, there is some interesting motor development facilitation built in. For example, having to change exercises often within a workout forces the athlete to develop and redevelop complex motor solutions in less than ideal conditions and often. A workout like nasty girls is much more difficult from a motor learning perspective than a workout like angie where all of the movement is blocked into repetitive chunks. It is much more difficult to perform a few reps of one movement and then switch to another movement than it is to complete many reps of a single exercise.

The research on blocked practice versus random practice (switching often) is that the athlete will make more errors up front with the random practice but will undergo deeper motor learning that will reflect in better performance at a later task.
Do we need to perform block practice? Yes, and all of our single effort or max effort lifts are block practice in which a single skill can be repeated to great effect. (Have you ever tried to learn a new skill between running and pullups? Not easy.)

Ok, so who cares about the "back of the house" crossfit motor learning theory?
Why are you showing the photos of Mike the Flabongo Master doing line touches?
Well, it turns out that we consciously try to make our athletes deviate away from the perfect movement they perform in the normal workouts. After a while, our advanced athletes can and do have beautiful "formal" movement. That is, Mike can squat, clean, pull, push, jump, etc with very good technique under very difficult conditions. Ask him to run line touches and smack the ground with his palms, and poof, he's doing some new motor learning. Mike can sprint, but sprinting after lowering himself to the ground to smack his palms, not so much.

Our goal is to keep stretching the capacities and abilities of our athletes. As people become more able within the context of our normal programming, it is vital that they be forced to continue to generate new and novel motor solutions. Gymnastics anyone? Hmmm, it's almost like crossfit had this figured out.

Go do something new.

Coach kstar

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Life-Lessons of Casa Bonita

Before arriving in Denver, I was instructed to ensure that my travel plans included a trip to Casa Bonita. Not knowing what the Casa held in store for me, I swore up and down that I would seek out this gem. My travel companions were reluctant at first, but ended up coming along, in no small part due to my un-informed enthusiasm.

To make a mindblowing night more palatable for the blogger format, let me encapsulate the evening in a few easy statements:

-Terrible Mexican food (The beef tacos were edible, but the weird wrapped cheese mass was not fit for human consumption...and yes, the extra tortillas did really come served in a zip-lock bag)

-Cliff Divers (inside the restaurant!!)

-Old Timey photos

-Sword fights with light-up fake-blades

-Haunted house featuring Black-Bart's Cave

Talk about excellent! Because my companions and I were committed to enjoying the over-stimulation, come what may, we had a blast. Spirits were high, despite initial skepticism. This experience of course led me to think about training. In particular, I began to think about decision, attitude and the personal responsibility all of us have for gleaning the most from any given situation.

Had I been one to not enjoy things of an awesome nature, I could have easily had a less than stellar time whilst visiting the Casa. My simple philosophy of 'do what you can to create the most enjoyment, most of the time' came in handy and I had no limitations on my fun that evening. Now where the hell does busting-ass come into play here?

Good question. The answer lies in the simple art of the personal set-up. When we are making savage the body, we are really doing our best to remove any physical limitations from our general surroundings. In the immediate sense, we may not be creating enjoyment, but in the larger scope of things, by eliminating these bodily barriers we have allowed ourselves the liberty of physical decision, thus unknowingly increasing our potential for enjoyment. Freedom! I chose to have a bonita-time. You, whether knowingly or not, are choosing to maximize your enjoyment of the physical vessel you occupy by training hard. Truly Bonita!

Here, we have Erin and Nick making the decision to abolish physical limitation:


-Adrian "Being-an-adult-rulez" Bozman
(I get to go to the Casa whenever I want)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Miracle Molly

Ladies and Gentleman, meet Molly Nardone. She is an SFCF regular and just completed the San Francisco 24hr, One Day Race. The goal of the race is to run as far as you can around the Chrissy field lagoon (1.08 mile loop) in 24 hours.

Molly likes to run a little. She played some college soccer. I'm sure she's never run more than 6 miles (from her own mouth). She does the crossfit, and goes for a short run from time to time.

Molly just completed the race this morning and ran...79 miles!
Let that burn in. Seventy-nine miles in 24 hours.


Thanks to Corby (her fiance), Robert Tuller, and all the other CF'ers that supported our wunderkind.

Nice work Molly!

And be sure to check out the cover girl on

Coach Kstar

Thursday, October 23, 2008


No insights, wit or attempts at hilarity tonight...just raw, undiluted documentation of the serious ass-whoopings that have taken place lately.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Crossfit Heavy

What isn't immediately obvious from the photo, is that 28 people are attempting to back squat a one rep max. Just take a moment and bask in the pure, goodness of that.

Now clearly, there are some collegiate strength programs, and some high schools too, where this isn't a big deal because it happens all the time. But in say, 99.9% of the world's group class structured workouts, seeing this many people going very heavy is much akin to seeing Coach Boz doing Tabata Elliptical (not saying it isn't possible, just unlikely.)

There exists some magic number for a coach, where the number of athletes they are coaching springs some mechanism in their heads that prevents them from teaching complex or heavy movements. Too often we have traveling Crossfitters drop in and tell us they don't train heavy or with complex movments often back home. It is far easier for a coach to program runnin' and chinnin' for a large group. Trust us we know and, people like the gas/metabolic stuff.

This is a type I error, a huge mistake. Crossfit is about work capacity right? Think of your ability to perform work as the amount of water you have in your "work" swimming pool. What is the limiting factor to having more water? Why, the size of your pool of course. You've got to get stronger to increase you pool size potential and thus, your work capacity potential.

The key to complex/maximal effort programming for a large group is to coach people on how to be safe. Note in all three photos for example, that the squatting athlete is being supported by three other athletes. The squatting athlete feels safe and is safe. And additionally, you've got four coaches at each rack. On a side note, check out the 115 pound soldier above, working her way up to a 195lb back squat. The French have a word for that, LE Git!

Damian above just completed the 100 day Burbpee challenge! How many burbpees is that? Nice job D! And, check out the hands ready to help should he get stapled by the weight after effectively becoming a long distance, endurance burbpee athlete.

Reminder to RSVP to Blog comments on Taco-Social if you plan on attending.

Way to be SFCF!

Coach kstar

Monday, October 20, 2008


I was fortunate enough to be in Brooklyn this weekend. Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit, was also there and gave a general Q and A at the end of the first day of the seminar. He presented a very interesting insight on an existing model of fitness that CrossFit has used for some time. Put your math-hat on for a second and dig in:

Imagine that you have a graph with percentage of total potential Power that you can generate running down the Y axis and Time running across the X axis. Taking different exercises at different times of duration and plotting the points will start to develop a curve. The area under this curve is a snap-shot of your overall work capacity, or your total fitness. Quite simply it is representative of 'how much shit you can get done'.

The goal of CrossFit programming has always been to elevate all areas under the curve and therefore increase your work capacity in a broad range of modal and time domains. This is nothing new and something CrossFit has been espousing for years.

Now, the new insight that Mr. Glassman shared with us is that we can extend the graph along the Z axis using age and create the general three dimensional shape of your fitness over the course of months/years/decades etc. Using this method, an elevated curve in the above-mentioned 2 dimensional snapshot is only useful if the trend continues across the Z axis. If the curve is elevated temporarily, but is then side tracked indefinitely due to injury, lifestyle imbalance, the catching-up/side-effects of pharmaceutical aids used in the elevation of the curve (Vitamin S anyone?) or anything else, true fitness is not reached, only glanced at.

This distinction is an important one as it implies that any factor that allows the shape of the curve to diminish substantially over-time, or any method that will only temporarily or drastically elevate the curve is not in line with true fitness. Read: True Fitness is Health and the long-term shape of the graph must be considered. If for whatever reason you can not maintain the general shape of your fitness over time, it was at best, a temporary fix.

Now, there are certainly more 'human' elements to consider in this equation such as long-term interest in a program and the (arguable) element of aging, but nonetheless it is a very interesting proposition. Think about it.

And, as I mentioned aging and the very arguable impact it has on fitness, take a look at the photo below:

From left to right we have Shane, David, myself and Jacinto, all of CrossFit South Brooklyn (David is the owner of the affiliate). Jacinto is 69. Let me say that again so you're sure it's not a typo. Jacinto is 69. On Sunday afternoon we had the participants complete the following WOD:

15 Rounds for time:
7 Medicine Ball Cleans
7 Pushups

There was a 12minute cap to the workout, meaning if you didn't finish in 12 minutes you just recorded how far along you made it. The day previous we had done Fight Gone Burpee (FGB with burpees instead of rowing). Despite FGBurpee, Jacinto finished the above workout in 9minutes and change. The fastest time of the day was 7:56. Many didn't complete the workout. Later that day I witnessed Jacinto in the corner by himself cranking out burpees. "He's catching up on his burpee-challenge day" came the answer to the dumbfounded look on my face. Simply amazing.

To tie these two wonderful things together:

If we could take a look at Jacinto's work-curve at say, age 20 and compare it to the one he has today I would wager that we could conclude Jacinto has not aged markedly in decades... I highly doubt the general shape of his graph has decreased dramatically over the years. Don't rest on your laurels, kids, and may you all be as young as Jacinto!

It's good to be back home.

Stay young,

Saturday, October 18, 2008

SFCF Taco Social



A+B=Taco Social

You are invited to the first ever SFCF Taco Social.

When you ask?
This Thursday, October 23rd. 6:45 PM (Workout is at 6:00 PM)

What the hell?

This is an opportunity to drink quality Mexican Macro-brew, partake of on site, hand made tacos, and most importantly, talk about what it is you do, when you aren't Crossfitting.

The Goal?
Network! Create opportunity. Schmooze. Find a job, whatever.

You must bring business cards, or 3x5 cards. Be prepared to talk about what it is you do officially in front of your SFCF brothers and sisters.

This is an example of what is not OK.

"I'm in finance."
"I'm a consultant."
"It's really complicated Kelly, I'm sure that while you can lift heavy things and have a doctoral degree, you may not be able to comprehend how I've been able to repackage sub-prime loan debt, and sell it to off shore investors."

There will be no "Tacos for time."

There will clearly be no 7pm class, but there will be a "taco chipper" workout beforehand scientifically designed to allow you to eat more tacos. If you cannot make the 6 PM chipper - please feel free to still come for tacos and beer.

We are planning on fifty people. You must RSVP to the Blog so that we can get a head count. Taco's and beer is a $10 buy-in.

So, let's leverage our human capital, face-booking, net-worked, linked-in, my-space, SFCF badassness.

Coach Kstar

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Heading East

SFCF is losing another of its finest (and finest Canadians) to the allure of the big cities out east. Eugene is departing this weekend for New York city. Make sure to wish him well! Don't worry though, he is equipped for big-city life having purchased the only SFCF Murse/Weightlifting shoe bag in existence! You will be missed Eugene.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pull, Ye Mighty Steeds!

The simple act of pulling hard is very primal. Weather pulling something closer to you or pulling yourself closer to something, there is fantastic capacity to be earned here.

All of the movements that compose the core of a solid training program should be this natural. Think of the movements we use everyday in our training and otherwise. Sure, some of the equipment we use is fashioned to get the job done efficiently and we refine the technique to optimize biomechanics, but really all we are doing is: Pushing, pulling, putting things overhead, picking shit up off the ground, running, jumping, throwing etc. None of these are the invention of a single mind. They are part of our universal physical language.

The 6am gang is fairly well-versed in the primal-pull. Into oblivion!

I'm fairly sure the winning team utilized Corby's secret warm-up technique...

Stay Pre-Historic,

PS The identity of the NutBroker is still largely shrouded in secrecy. First one to identify correctly in the comments wins a bag o' macadamias

Monday, October 13, 2008

Which One of These Things Is Not Like The Others?

Vicious triple extension of hips, knees, and ankles? Check.

Upright posture, with enough forward lean to jump onto the box? Check.

Big arm throw keeping hands up by the face? Check.
Head in neutral? Check.

Wait a moment. All of the photos are the same. Good jumping mechanics on display for all three athletes.

Hmmm, it's almost like they practice this hip extension thing all the time. Curious.

Two other points:
1) The very cool adjustable jumping box was made for us by the carpenter to the stars, Larry G. It's fully adjustable up to 57 inches. It should keep us busy for a while.

2) Can you spot the "where's Aneel" photo?

3) We call the jump box the Koffin with a K.

Coach kstar

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Meet the Kaho Witi French Fry

In Brazil, the Kraho peoples celebrate the Potato Festival every year to mark the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the dry season. The Witi log race is all about strength and endurance. Two identically sized logs, over 176 pounds, are cut down and prepared for the race.

The teams sprint over three miles back to the village, and complete 10 tours of the village center (over 400 yards each), passing the log continuously between them. Few men have the stamina to compete the course. Many drop out.

But don't worry, in an attempt to increase work capacity across broad time and modal domains, SFCF will be prepared should they encounter the Witi log race.

It's yellow, it's heavy, it's awkward, it'll stop cars, and it will make your spine strong and stable. And, it is difficult to run with.
Moving a heavy load (50lb-ish steel french fry) at shoulder height while breathing hard requires an enormous capacity to generate tension in the muscles that support the spine.

Training to keep the spine safe is one of the most important aspects of our programming, and this is why we obsess over it. Even if it means we have to rip off the customs of obscure Brazilian indigenous persons. The more you can make your spine resemble a fence post, the less likely you are to have a back injury when you put yourself in a tough real-life situation, like potato festival village pride.

Viva La Witi French Fry!

Coach Kstar

Molly looking forward to the post potato celebration.

Jamie and the Bell Girl pass the baton.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Stay of Execution

Just kidding. About having to move that is. Turns out the greatest training center under the Golden Gate Bridge is safe. The very generous kids at the Sportsbasement have figured out how to make due.

But, this experience has shed light on a few lurking issues.

1) Our community would thrive even if we didn't have a club house.
2) The very broad and diverse talents of our SFCF'ers are largely untapped by our community within. As soon as we said we needed a space, literally 15 athletes ponied up their services as brokers. Maybe we need to have an hour of power (1 ounce beer, 1 pull up for an hour, century if you can handle it) and pass out business cards and give a short spiel about what it is you do when you aren't thrustering and pull-upping.
I would basically trust anyone that I fight gone bad with. ex) I need a clinical pathologist: poof, Ellen Krasik.
3) How attached are we to staying outside?
4) What does our next move look like? Should we move if we find a dream space?

Note that the Boz contemplates these issues as well. What would Rodin say?

The offer still stands for a one year sponsorship. Find us the dream space.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Nut Broker

Consider this:

The container we use as the center of our operations could, theoretically, hold 20,000lbs of nuts and could be shipped anywhere around the world.

In the picture above, one man provided us with this insight, having worked as a shipper of nuts and foodstuffs in general. Do you know who the Nut-Broker is? Post answers to comments. No fair giving it away if you were at today's 7pm class. Bonus points for adding a working definition of the term Nut-Broker for use at SFCF.

Have fun,

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Bounty Hunters

There was a terrific Coldplay song off of their first album called "Don't Panic".
Imagine that's playing in the background right now.
Set? Good.

Ok, the news as most of you know, is that we are set to loose our famous outdoor training site to SportsBasement reorganization. We've had an amazing three year run.

So, since we live in an absolutely crazy city, we are deputizing the likes of all of our athletes and guests alike to find us a new spot.

REWARD: The athlete that supplies the lead to our next location will receive a one year sponsorship from SFCF.

Consider yourself deputized.

Coach Kstar

Friday, October 03, 2008

Too Legit...

When faced with an intense workout, sometimes the concept of 'faster' becomes synonymous with 'better'. This logic is not always correct.

With exercises like Knees-to-elbows, pullups, pushups and the like, going faster is only one way to skin the 'better' cat. Increasing the Range Of Motion (ROM) on these beauties is something we should all strive for as our proficiency increases. Going 'longer' relative to one's abilities (and not in the timed sense of the word) should not be ignored or forgotten about.

Here we are going long:

Results From Weds:

Results From Thurs:

...and just to restate the new Schedule changes:

-6am/7am, 6pm, 7pm, (6pm Thurs is now a 'basics' class with the emphasis on learning techniques/movements)
-Friday classes are 6am/7am


Sat. (all classes in AM)
-7:30 Experienced Class
-8:30 Open Class
-9:30-10:00 Basics Class

...and the new drop-in fee is $20. Spread the word!

Have fun,