Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Just a quick note to all of you that are looking for something to do on Christmas day:

We will be holding Festivus at noon on the 25th at SFCF. There will be an aluminum pole (valued for it's strength to weight ratio), airing of grievances and feats of strength. And eggnog.

See you there,

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Schedule

Be sure to note the changes to our regular class schedule at

1) No classes on Christmas.
2) Christmas Eve-- 8am all levels
3) Dec. 26th. No level 2-- only 8:30 and open gym
4) The week after Christmas 28-30th. 6am,noon,6pm
5) New Year's Eve--6am,Noon
6) New Year's Day--10am

James Mills will be bringing a little SFCF to the Nutcracker
at Fort Mason. Don't miss.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Loading and Tensioning Part 1

There are a few "rules" of the body that may be applied across multiple applications and body systems. One of these rules is; tissues that are moved into a loaded or biased position first, experience increased relative tension, load, or positional significance throughout the subsequent remaining movement. This is a fancy way of saying that your body's soft tissues (muscles, tendons, joint capsules, etc) undergo tensioning in the order in which they were first loaded.

For example, imagine stretching your hamstrings while laying on your back (we are really just mobilizing hip flexion because it would be impossible to "just" stretch the hamstrings in isolation). If you begin to lift your leg up to your chest with a straight knee, you will "feel" the stretch behind the knee more than you will in the belly of the hamstring. The converse is also true. If you bring your leg up toward you chest in hip flexion (with a bent knee) and once you run out of slack THEN try to straighten you knee, you will feel the tension biased more toward your butt (toward the tissues that were stretched first).

Soft tissue tension or load ordering plays a significant roll in your athletic development whether you know it or not, and it extends far beyond simply stretching your hammies. For example, good technique in the bench press dictates that you break at the elbows first and not at the shoulders on the negative or lowering portion of the lift. Not only does this good technique cue allow for more weight to be lifted, but it also vitally protect the shoulders from "crappy bench press" positioning. But, if you examine this technique in terms of tissue load ordering, you are able to see that shoulder soft tissue loading is delayed (ordered later than triceps) until the decent of the bar dictates that the shoulder move significantly to accommodate the movement. Delayed shoulder soft tissue loading radically decreases the stresses put on the shoulders at peak movement compression. Don't believe me? Go ahead and load up your shoulders before your triceps and see what happens (no don't unless you LIKE shoulder surgery).

So, as you can see, loading tissues in the order you want to stress them affects many of the movements and maintenance strategies we take for granted.

How might this principle affect your deadlift max? Stay tuned.

Coach-hit-the-tequila-before-the-beer-star (liquor before beer--never fear, obeys the ordering law too)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Year 5.

Ok. We can't take the heat. We are back. And, we have a ton of new ideas and content.

So, this past week launched us into our fifth year of SFCF and we have a big, big year planned.

Check out our newest physical culture experiment below:

More info to follow, but be sure to note our fresh container makeover.

Also notable: A solid SFCF crew took on one of the toughest short course ultra-marathons last Saturday. The Quad Dipsea has some 19K feet of elevation change over some 28+ miles of single track and literally thousands of stairs.

It's almost like this stuff works.

Stay tuned....


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

American History, and you.

It sometimes comes to my attention that due to the fact that people lead busy lives, they must not really know about the local resources available to them. It has to be.
What am I talking about? I'm talking about learning how to row from SFCF's own Erin Cafaro. Yeah, yeah, she won a Gold Medal in Bejing. Yeah, and was the national champion at Cal. Oh, but did you know she just sorta created American history by winning the first EVER Gold Medal in the Pair (think partnered suffering) at the recent World Championships in Poland about a month ago? And, she doubled up in the 8 too? You didn't know she was a double World Champion?
Yeah, and you get a chance to actually row, with her. And what's freaky cool, is that on the second day of the seminar, YOU get to head out to one of the coolest places to row on the west coast (with Erin) and you get to actually ROW on the water, like a real rower. Did you know people pays thousands of dollars to spend a day skiing with Olympians (who don't have 400 FGB like Erin btw)? YOU get the chance to actually learn to row from a very gifted instructor, and an American History Machine. Doode, she can autograph your puke stained shirt! You might learn something and get to hold the "biscuit". What, you've never held a Gold Medal? You've never been coached by a Current World Champ?

Dewd, learning to row like this is really cool. Trust me.

But seriously, your rowing sucks. It does, and your crappy technique is killing your times, and you are loosing serious fitness points.

The Crossfit Rowing Cert can be signed up for here.
It's the weekend of October 24, and 25th.
ERIN won't be coaching it again out here for a while. And we lose her to the competitive rowing season soon. Don't loose your chance, then complain when you suck at crossfit rowing pieces. Remember one of our mandates for attaining elite fitness to learn new sports. So come learn a new sport already, and hang out with a brilliant rowing instructor and an excellent coach.


Sunday, September 27, 2009


"One day I wiped out all notions from my mind. I gave up all desire. I discarded all the words with which I thought and stayed in quietude.

I felt a little strange--as if I were being carried into something, or as if I were touching some power unknown to me...and zzzt! I entered.

I lost the boundary of my physical body. I had my skin, of course, but I felt I was standing in the center of the cosmos.

I spoke, but my words had lost their meaning. I saw people coming toward me, but all were the same man.

All were myself! I had never known this world. I had believed that I was created, but now I must change my opinion: I was never created: I was the cosmos; no individual me existed." -Sasaki

Awakening, or satori, is the fundamental aim of Zen. According to the Zen text Denkoroku, "It is to die completely and then come back to life."

Hmmmm, sounds like heavy, high rep squatting to me. Looks like it too.

Coach K-the-buddah-squatted-heavy-too-star

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Things I Am Into (thanks Dan)

This is a post about Things I am Into.
No order. No reason. Just the truth.

1. If your gym is more beautiful than this, it's cool. You are dead and in heaven.

2. This is James. He's a professional badass ballet star. That's 305.

3. Red Stripe, Bacon, Potato Chips.

4. This is Ethan Kochis. He is so humble and badass that he will be embarrassed by this video. Effit, I love PR's.

5. I saw and bought this poster at Ed Hardy's place Tatoo City SF. If running were really like this,
running would be cool.

6. This is a 200kg box squat. But who cares, because my neck is sooo red I look like Hell Boy.
I match my 25kg bumbers. Do you? That's cool.

7. Snatch-Grip width Chins (palms toward you). Try it. You suck at it.
In fact your chins are sissy compared to your pull ups. Truth. I said it.

8. Basic Gymnastics. Super basic. It's not even really gymnastics. It's pre-gymnastics.
It's really, really hard and solves a bunch of your crap. Note elbows out past wrists.
I heart Carl.

Coach K-DanSilverwannaBe-Star

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Holy Sh*T

First off I wanted to thank Kelly and Juliet for allowing my words to grace this blog. I can honestly say that for the better part of two years the SFCF blog has been something I have ingested regularly. Its been like a different present of knowledge and humor to unwrap on a daily basis. I also have a newfound respect for how hard it may be to produce awesome content as often as our coaches do. We are being coached by coached warrior poets people.

“When You Can’t Come Back”

Any athlete will tell you that it’s a sad day when you realize your playing days are over, whether that be at the collegiate or professional level. Regardless of your sport or how far you have pushed yourself within that respective sport, or whether injury or in my case ability signaled the end of your athletic career, you will never forget the moment you realized that part of your life was over. I can vividly remember when that moment arrived for me. It was May of 2005 and I was standing outside the baggage claim at SFO waiting for my mom to pick me up from my flight home after being cut from my second spring training by a professional baseball team. It was a sad realization of “well what the hell do I do now”? All I had ever known was baseball year around since I was 10 years old and it had now come to a screeching halt. My next few years from 2005-2007 were spent playing on local SF baseball teams just to be around the game, yet never regaining the same intense passion I felt when I would toe the mound for a game that actually meant something, wearing a jersey that represented an entire college. In July of 2007 following a 6 week boxing camp, pain in my right hip began to impair walking, sitting, and lying down to the point of blinding pain. I was told by an Orthopedist at Kaiser that I had what is known as FAI or Femoral Acetabular Impingement. I was basically told to avoid all activity where I had to pivot on the ball of my right foot because that in turn would pivot the head of my femur and aggravate my condition. That was like being told to not be active anymore which to me was unacceptable. I was also given a rehab program that seemed fit for someone who would be confined to an elliptical for the rest of his life. By the time my hip had healed enough to run I had honestly lost the motivation to exercise anymore. Instead I simply sat on the couch every night after work and blamed my lack of activity on my hip.

Dizzle Cafaro is actually the man who suggested I try Crossfit in November of 2007. By that time I was 235 pounds and would probably have clocked a 3min 500m row in my condition. I have to say that my first experience was intimidating (I told JD I wouldn’t go until he came with me), and eye opening as to how out of shape I was. I was sweating bullets and out of breath doing 1 rep max front squats with 155 pounds. My 2nd WOD was Fran w/ a blazing time of 12 mins with ripped hands to boot. I can honestly say I drank the SFCF kool-aid that night and could instantly realize I had found something that could deliver me from several months of terrible pain that had effected how I walked, being able to sit for long periods of time, or even sleep for more than an hour at a time without waking up because of the pain. Slowly week after week I noticed that my hip was gaining greater range of motion, and I was becoming stronger and leaner. I also was thrilled with the fact that Kstar and Boz were always able to offer me ways to work around hip pain that allowed me to complete WOD’s if my hip had become an issue during a certain movement. Crossfit, and more specifically Crossfit San Francisco has been something that has definitely sent my life down a path of fitness I know it wouldn’t have gone down had the Dizzle not introduced me to a little slice of fitness heaven in the loading dock of the Sports Basement. My hip will be a lifelong issue for me, however crossfit and the lessons I’ve learned through our amazing coaches have drastically improved my range of motion, strength, and recovery period when it does act up, and illustrated to me the various range of motion stretches I can do religiously to (as KSTAR would say) “normalize” my hip . The easiest way to illustrate the drastic changes I have gone through since joining crossfit (other than the weight loss) would be two examine two topics I mentioned earlier: my hip, and my Fran time. When I first began I could barely overhead squat 135, and front squat 155. Fast forward to August of 2009 my best Overhead squat is 235, and my best front squat is 235. In addition my 12 min Fran time is now a five min Fran time (Kelly may not like me mentioning but it was done hungover). Im also weighing in at about 205 pounds as opposed to the husky 235 pounds I began at in November of 2007.Across the board my WOD times have dropped drastically, and I’m- the proud owner of a C2 Rower I affectionately call the “Soul Cleanser” which routinely punishes me (that’s what she said).

Lastly I will say that as a pitcher there was nothing like being in the middle of what I like to call a “holy shit” moment. It is a moment present in any sport, and it was what I lived for out on the mound. It’s the moment where you do something amazing on the field of play, or turn in a performance you have to pinch yourself to believe, and the crowd is going nuts and your team is mobbing you…..this is the moment when you take a step back, look around at what you just accomplished and utter to yourself “holy shit”. I have experienced these same moments at crossfit and it is precisely what entices me to keep coming back, keep improving, and in my own personal way keep claiming victory. My pitching days are over for good, but SFCF still has plenty of “holy shit” moments in store for me.

Lucas “Holy Shit” Robinson

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Not a Gimmick

I was asked recently by a non-crossfitting friend (yes, they exist in theory) what I thought were the reasons for Crossfit's popularity and success. My response was immediate. I said, "Because, it's not a gimmick. Front-Squatting and Running isn't a gimmick."

And it's not. Marrying together Olympic sports is a hard stinking workout, and one without a ceiling or top-end.

Last night, we had nine racks simultaneously in use by teams of three. Beginners were working out next to advanced athlete and both were working at their available capacities.

A couple of nights ago, I was talking about the "not a gimmick" conversation with my good friend and pro-couch surfer Johnny Welborn. His response? "I've been training hard since high school. Add college football to ten seasons playing in the NFL and that's a lot of time. Lifting weights and running always kicks my ass. Always. That's why this stuff works, and why it always will."

Gymnastics? Not a gimmick. Check.
Olympic Weight-Lifting? Not a gimmick. Check.
Barbell Training? Not a gimmick. Check.
Running and rowing? Not a gimmick. Check.

All these elements mixed together? Gut Check.

Coach K-so-much-room-to-get-better-Star

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sometimes, You Just Gotta Do It

Recently at SFCF, we performed some rough calculations and estimated that we have administered over forty thousand workouts. It’s true and a little staggering. And, buried within this considerable volume of athletic coaching, are certain patterns and predispositions of our athletes. For example, we rarely have to tell women that the weight they are using to back squat is too heavy, and that is why they aren’t breaking parallel (the opposite is quite true of men). Another one, and the topic of this post, is that we rarely see our athletes choose to slow way down (finish last-ish) and commit to actually finishing a skill or movement when they can keep their speed up by substituting or scaling. For example, we will often have clients that can perform all the pull ups in a workout like Fran, as singles, but will move to some variation of jumping or band assisted pull ups if given the chance. Yeah, yeah, I know, you’ve got to “ scale too” to increase work capacity, etc, etc… And it’s true, it is completely appropriate to work at relatively scaled loads to manage overall higher average work outputs over time. But it is also true that sometimes you’ve got to go full dose, and as slow as it takes to get the job done. I mean, forty-five deadlift singles at 225 is a daunting task for a beginner and made worse by the psychology of going SLOW. This however is where real capacity is gained.

As an experiment, take a look on the main crossfit site at the next time a workout like Isabelle turns up (Powersnatch 135 x 30). You will literally see people posting sub 4 minute times with a piece of PVC or the bar. Dewd. Seriously. There is no linear progression for scaling workout that don’t come around very often. And this is not an insignificant point. There are so many things to work on in Crossfit (like several Olympic sports for example) that it is hard to go light and fast one time, planning to go slow and prescribed next time, IF the next time you see that given exposure is several months later. What actually happens is that people NEVER opt for heavy and slow. When we “score” workouts at SFCF for example, we count unmodified and slow, higher than light and very fast. And so should you.
You are never going to go fast at a workout that involves forty-five handstand pushups unless you can actually PERFORM forty-five hand-stand pushups.
Remember, you can always manipulate rep-schemes to fit your fitness/capacity levels and still perform all the work of a given wod. Instead of 21-15-9 for example, how about nine sets of five? Or, god forbid, fifteen sets of three! Clearly it’s tough to do this with deadlifts if you can’t actually pick up the weight, or cleans etc, but there are movements that you can do like the negative portion of the handstand pushup.

At some point, you’ve got to bear down and actually attempt to complete the work.
It’s ok if you have to go slow. Your ego will survive the experience.

Coach Kelly

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Word About Your Low Back

This back positioning is sweet. Learn to lift like Rob Orlando.

Admit it, you thought I was going to hammer Rob about his low back as soon as you saw the title of this post and photo. Oh no, young padawan learner. Rob's kung fu is very, very strong. But let's talk about why.

1) Rob is very, very strong. His perfect form does not break down even when he lifts round, gravity dense objects from terrible positions.

2) Perfect form? Yes, note that Rob's low back is FLAT! His low back is loaded and in neutral. Look again at the photo. Rounded? Phsah! Flat, and flat is safe!

3) Rob has stellar hip flexibility and he is sufficiently abducted (leg's turned out) to maximally un-impinge his hips. The hulk tail (legs) is not wagging the hulk (hips). Rob's connective tissues and joint capsules are not passively pulling his low back into a less than ideal flexed position. And this is a huge point. Don't let your hips dictate your spinal positioning! Get those knees out and get some hip flexion flexibility already!

4) Rob's hips are high enough to allow for his low spine to be in a more advantageous position. Butt down is fine for O-lifting to keep the chest upright for the second pull, but Rob's rock is low and he has no second pull here. He has to keep his hips high to teeter-totter into an workable position.

5) Rob's thoracic-spine is how he accommodates the flat low back. Note any good strength lifter and you'll see thick paraspinal muscles along the mid back. Why? Because loading the mid spine in a flexed position is way preferable than loading the crappy low back in a flexed position. McGill ET all demonstrated that lifters and athltes with chronic low back pain loaded the low back first in movement. Rob is loading his legs and upper back first. Well done Rob.

6) That stone is as close to Rob's center of gravity as possible. And, it is as close to his chest as possible. Be one with the stone. Literally.

7) Even if Rob was in a slightly flexed lumbar position (which he is not), he is not violating the "minimize spinal movement under load" principle. He starts in a tight position and lifts. Your spine will handle a ton of silly nonsense if you can keep it in one position during extreme loading. It does NOT handle inter-vertebral movements very well during loading. In fact, this is why squatting and reversing into lumbar flexion is the number one way to destroy your back (or deadlifting and ending up in a flexed lumbar, dog-poo position).

8) Robb practices. A lot.

Way to lift with your legs Rob!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Chasing Performance Seminar @ SFCF This Saturday

Hey Gang,
Just a reminder that SFCF is hosting it's very own Chasing Performance Seminar with some SFCF coach (this guy) this Saturday from 9am to 4pm. This day of Movement, Mobility, and Maintenance will be a veritable festival of body mechanics and models of recovery.
We still have space for the chosen ones (you). You can sign up through This seminar is booked out through Summer 2010 in OTHER places. It won't be back in SF for some time. Don't be whining when "like a virgin on prom night. I mean they vanish, swishh..."(Utah, gimme two!)
Seminar Goals:
•Improve understanding of key anatomical elements as they relate to functional movement, and as performance limiters.
•Increase awareness of “best-fit” biomechanical set-up and movement strategies for optimal work outputs.
•Understand movement compromise strategies for specific movement outcomes.
•Develop an understanding of common movement dysfunctions and a systematic model for addressing common problems associated with elite training
•Develop effective abdominal/spine stabilization strategies
•Understand and apply neuro-muscular stretching methods
•Understand methods to improve overhead positioning and efficacy
•Develop methods to address common myo-fascial pain/dysfunction
•Understand how to treat soft tissue injuries
•Develop better movement preparation strategies

For our regulars athletes classes have been shifted forward half an hour.
Level 2--7am
Level 1--8am
Open Gym --Cancelled.

Hope to see you there.

Coach K-doode-you're-jacked-up-star

Monday, July 13, 2009

Team SFCF!

Congratulations to the SFCF Rainbow Fawn Squad for making such a strong showing at this year's Crossfit Games.
The day's competition brought three fierce workouts and strong competition. Ninety-seven teams competed for the Affiliate Cup title and it was pretty much a good old fashioned throw-down.

Our SFCF kids posted the second fastest time in the stadium chipper workout and were right in the heart of the action for the other two events.

Also, big shout out to Coach Angel who survived the "sporty-run" and little "ham-string streching" events. (imagine two of the hardest workouts you can, now do them within two hour of each other, and make them a little worse).

Enjoy the photos! (thanks to Huge-gene click here for his rad gallery)

Coach Kstar

Monday, July 06, 2009

Minimize Spinal Movement Under Load

Hi Kelly,
I have a client who is 25 years old and started crossfitting about 8 weeks ago. He has come along way and lost about 25 lbs over that course of time. I follow catalyst athletics and have set up a program of strength wods and met con wods through my workouts. I myself follow crossfit football, as I concentrate on my weakness, which is strength. About a week ago, this client particpated in a strength wod where we did Push Press for 5 x 3 @ 75 of 1 rep max. However, he tweaked his back and has been sore around his middle back down to his lower back. I told him to ice and we did some mobility stretches for his back. What is your recommendation if you have any to ease this soreness.

At issue here, is that this athlete likely ended up in an over-extended thoracic position while under load. It is likely that as the client ultimately moved toward the end range of his push-press (and ostensibly began to experience decreased bar speed toward the end of the press), he probably leaned back a little to bias his pressing from less straight up and down to more of an "incline-style" standing press.
There are several problems with this of course, the most conspicuous is that it likely lead to some overextended thoracic spinal facet joints (the facets are serious weight bearing joints in the spine on either side of the disc--the spinal nerves pass right by this two joint complex) that are now a little sensitized. There are other important pieces of information to be gleaned here as well.

First, as we approach peak working loads or muscle fatigue, it is important that at the moment we reach close to no velocity or bar movement, that our spinal position remain the same. That is, as we begin to move toward what is ultimately a near isometric contraction (mid-way through a press you get stuck) there should be no deviation what-so-ever in your set up positioning. The set up and pull is the same for deadlifting a hundred pounds or two-thousand pounds. Post-maximal loads can be safely handled in an iso-metric position if there is no deviation from an ideal or best-fit set up. We get into problems when there is movement in the spine under load.

Movements like the kipping pull up have a great deal of thoracic extension true, but the spine is significantly less loaded and in a better distracted position. But people here too will experience "spinal closing pain" as well with wild kipping. The kids that are best at pull ups will demonstrate very little spinal movement through-out the movement range. These athletes tend to adopt a spinal set up and then keep in through-out the movement (think Spealer and his 100 pull-ups).

And this leads us to our main point. The mid-line stabilization concept about which we know so much, is really a fancy way of describing the capacity to maintain a neutral spine under load, task, or intensity. Clearly over extending your upper-back in the middle of a pressing movement is a violation of this principle. So too is reversing or changing your lumbar curve in the bottom of a squat. Get your spine set up, and keep it that way. The best Olympic style weight-lifters know this and are able to receive enormous loads dynamically AND still not experience inter-spinal segment movement (power-lifters too).

The main reason to refrain from loaded spinal movement of course is not because you risk an over-extension injury, or that you may shear one of your "precious" little lumbar discs into an exploding jelly-doughnut, no it's because changing your good spinal position in the middle of a load will lead to decreased force production and power out put! It is difficult enough already to get into a good position un-loaded during the set-up. Do yourself a favor and don't then try to buffer a worse position when is matters most. Pretend instead that your spine is frozen in titanium when you are lifting. Trust me.

As for this kind of extension injury. Ice, rest, gentle mobilization, and let those poor joints cool off. And most importantly, under-stand what went wrong and don't be that guy ever again.

Coach K-star

Friday, July 03, 2009


As most of you know by now, the SFWeekly has published a negative, and factually inaccurate article about San Francisco Crossfit generally, and me specifically.
We have taken up our very serious concerns about the article with the SF Weekly's publisher and editor directly, which is why we have not commented or attempted to defend ourselves publicly.

We wanted to take this opportunity to personally thank our San Francisco Crossfit family and the greater Crossfit community for their public support and affirmation of our work at SFCF. While we are always astounded by the athletic achievements of our athletes, we are most proud of the community and camaraderie that we see every day at SFCF.

And for all you SFCF haters, hate this.

Caroline "Bear" Starrett

Thank you,

Coach K-Star

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

National Champions, AGAIN!

This past weekend, the Junior National Rowing Championships were held in the middle of the country for all high school age teams. We are very proud to announce that the Marin Rowing Association's Varsity Women's 8+, won the National Championship by almost five seconds (open water) for the second straight year in a row. A five second gap is slightly freakish, but so are the work capacities of these talented young women.

This is the third year SFCF has been providing the strength and conditioning for these girls, and many of the seniors on the team have been with us that long.

Balancing a competitive rowing schedule and a couple of weekly Crossfit sessions is no joke. Many of our young Marin Rowers have the potential to be some of the best athletes around. Early last fall, these athletes made a commitment to out work their competition and win back to back national titles with many new athletes in the boat. Clearly they did.

Kudos to Coaches Carl Paoli and Angel Orozco who took over coaching responsibilities this spring. The Marin athletes were greatly relieved to have two additional new coaches to hate.

--Coach K-Star

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Finisher Part 2

Recall the Original...

Now let's talk about application to the individual.

In Powerlifting, it is not uncommon to hear a coach remark to one of his athletes that "you've got a 500lb ass, but 300lb hammies", or something similar. Far from being a tactic to rile the ire of a lifter before smashing some weight, these types of remarks are simply coarse reminders that the lifter's weak spots are holding them back from their potential; they are only as capable as the weakest link in the chain.

The same can be said of your general physical preparation.

Once you've established your weaknesses, the finisher can be an excellent time to continue to work on these areas of difficulty. The ideas you formulate do not have to be exact here. The doing is what's important.

Say, you have a weak upper body? Time to break out the deadhang/weighted pullups or some sort of press. A few bouts of feet-free rope climbs are great too.

Not enough wind in the sails? Rally for one or two short sprints after your workout or one mid-distance sprint (think 500m Row or 400m Run).

Worried you're not as explosive as you'd like to be? A few sprint-starts or max vert/broad jumps oughtta help out.

Pick one or two of the things you need attention on and add an appropriate finisher for a few weeks. When progress starts to falter with your given exercise, change it just enough so you can continue to move forward, but so much that it becomes something completely different. Soon enough you'll have full access to that 500lb ass.

-Adrian "Weaknesses?-I-had-weaknesses..." Bozman

Monday, June 01, 2009

Get Off The Ibuprofen Peoples!

Hey Kelly,

At the seminar you said no more ibuprofen, so I stopped. But what should I take when the DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) is bad? I foam roll, tennis/lacrosse ball roll, etc... But it only goes so far. Crushing the fish oil as well. ASA (an NSAID by the way) or acetaminophen or just suck it up? (all parentheses are mine)




All right, let's set the record straight about this stuff.

The Disclaimer: Medicine is serious busines. Always follow the advice of your doctor.


Ok. Ibuprofen has no place in the life of the athlete obsessed with chasing performance.

Taking an anti-inflammatory drug of any kind makes tendons and ligaments weaker, and stops muscles from getting stronger.

Is this clear enough? Yes, we used to call it Vitamin I. Yes, we used to say that RICE should have a second "I" in it (Rest, Ice, Ibuprofen, Compression, Elevation).
We used to also do "21's" on back and bi's day too. It's not ok.

Here's the low down. Ibuprofen is an NSAID (Non-Steroidal-Anti-Inflammatory-Drug) which is believed to work through the inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX), thus inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis. Prostaglandins, are like hormones in that they act as chemical messengers, but do not move to other sites, but work right within the cells where they are synthesized. Prostaglandins are vital mediators of the inflammatory cascade. The swelling and subsequent prostaglandin production signals all of the important cells circulating in your body to come and fix/reinforce the challenged tissues. That's right, all that soreness you feel after Fran is the resultant swelling from all the micro-damage you've done to your muscles. It's this very inflammatory response that is responsible for making you a BETTER ATHLETE. The Worst thing you can do is to go through a horrible workout like Fran and then not reap the resultant gains from the training stimulus.

No good coach should allow their athletes to take ibuprofen at anytime. Even if they are hung over..


NSAIDs have been shown to delay and hamper the healing in all the soft tissues, including muscles, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. Anti-inflammatories can delay healing and delay it significantly, even in muscles with their tremendous blood supply. In one study on muscle strains, Piroxicam (an NSAID) essentially wiped out the entire inflammatory proliferative phase of healing (days 0-4). At day two there were essentially no macrophages (cells that clean up the area) in the area and by day four after the muscle strain, there was very little muscle regeneration compared to the normal healing process. (Greene, J. Cost-conscious prescribing of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for adults with arthritis. Archives of Internal Medicine. 1992; 152:1995-2002.)

Long term NSAID use is hard on your tissues and directly responsible from some pretty gnarly chronic body issues.

So how do we treat acute inflammatory/inflammation pain?

You know the answer.

Ice. (Maybe a little Tylenol if you really, really need it, it's not an NSAID after all)

But remember, Acetaminophen causes three times as many cases of liver failure as all other drugs combined and is the most common cause of acute liver failure in the United States. Even recommended doses especially combined with even small amounts of alcohol (Yes you Crossfitters) have caused irreversible liver failure. Don't be so cavalier about treating your muscle soreness with drugs. Taking pain meds of any kind is serious.

Can you see the difference between treating pain and treating inflammation? Control swelling and Pain with Ice as seen below, it won't short circuit the way your body actually heals itself and becomes stronger. (Hell, the Ice bath might make you a little stronger too.)

Bask in your soreness!Brag about it at work as your friends help you get up off the toliet. And above all, practice all the recovery tricks you know! These include: Proper nutrition, fluid intake, ice bath, fish oil, active recovery, stretching, massage, etc.

Hell, you can even sneak in another quick workout the next day before the 48 hour soreness beat down really kicks in! Quick, let's do Fight Gone Bad before you get too sore from yesterday's double fran! For example.

Seriously. Knock it off. Get off the Vitamin I.


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.