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3 Great Uses for EMOMs

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

emomEMOM is an acronym that stands for Every Minute On the Minute. For example, the EMOM for 10 minutes of 10 box jumps and 10 pull ups means you have 10 minutes of work and at the start of each minute you attempt to complete 10 box jumps and 10 pull ups. If you finish within the minute, you rest until the start of the next minute and repeat the work. The faster you get your work for the minute done, the more rest you get. There are endless variations and purposes for EMOMs and below are some of my favorite. This is not an exclusive list.

1. EMOMs provide an essential skill building format for CrossFit athletes. Most likely, you will not learn how to do handstand push ups in other CrossFit workout formats. You will have a much greater success rate if you attempt handstand push ups 1-2 times every minute for 10 minutes, as opposed to attempting as many handstand pushups as possible in 10 minutes. Learning new skills cannot be done properly in a fatigued state. It is ideal to practice skills in isolation before combining them into workouts.

2. As a coach, programming EMOMs is useful because it allows total control of the athlete’s work, rest and fatigue. If a five round workout for time is programmed and your athlete isn’t proficient in one of the movements, it may take a very long time to complete the task. Intensity may be lost and the actual stimulus may not coincide with the desired stimulus. With an EMOM, the stimulus can be controlled and linear progressions can be maintained and furthered.

3. Time. If you tend to take your sweet time between exercises or sets, EMOMs will help expedite your time in the gym and increase your work capacity. By letting the clock decide when you work and rest you will be much fitter. If you are feeling lazy in the gym, just pick a few exercises and use an EMOM format for a warm-up. It works great!

Strength Training for Yogis Saturday July 11

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

Stephanie Ring of Endure Yoga and certified fitness trainer Chelsea McAlexander are teaming up to bring you Strength Training for Yogis hosted by CrossFit Marin at The Cave.

1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
$50 for workshop
Register Here

Strength Training for Yogis will introduce movements likes arch and hollow rocks, lunges, squats, jumping, pull-ups, and presses to improve core strength and stability, add athletic development to your practice, and increase specific muscular strength.

Should I Use a Belt? When?

Friday, June 5th, 2015

foam-core-lifting-belt-by-harbinger-womene28099s-5-inchIt’s rare to walk across the CrossFit floor and not see at least one athlete wearing a weightlifting belt. But why? Is it necessary? Should you wear one? Should you NOT wear one?
First, wearing a belt is a performance enhancer, but for some, a belt is necessary to perform certain movements without pain. Your core should be strong enough to support yourself through the main lifts, injuries aside. If you choose not to wear a belt, AND are not a competitor, then you are going to be perfectly fine without one. However, if you want to push your maximum amount of weights, then consider using a belt. Now, let’s learn how to use it the the right way.

To use a belt correctly, you should first learn how to breathe correctly by using the Valsalva Maneuver. As you are reading this take in a deep breath, but do not let your chest or shoulders rise at all. Breathe deeply and allow your belly to expand (I know, not the most attractive look). If you have trouble doing this, lie on the floor, place your hand on your abdominals, and practice making your hand rise.
Once you have this down, try to exhale but keep your throat closed to create pressure. Whether you choose to wear a belt or not, this is how you want to breathe while lifting. Now, put your belt on and try this technique. If you do it correctly, you should feel an incredible amount of pressure. This intra-abdominal pressure will help keep your back flat and arched. Your belt should be tight, but how tight is up to you. Personally, I like to have mine with some room, mainly because it’s a good visual to expand my midsection a greater degree. For some competitors, another person needs to help tighten up the belt for them before going into a big event to get it as tight as possible.rogue-lifting-belt-1-700x325

Now that I’ve reviewed how to use the belt correctly, let’s talk about when you should use it. For the big lifts, you should always wear a belt when you are going for a maximum attempt. Squats and deadlifts fall into this category, but you should never rely on wearing your belt. Unless you have an injury, warm-ups and building a set to the higher max should be achieved without the belt, but still practice breathing correctly . CrossFit is rooted in functional fitness…Do you grocery shop with your weight belt on? You should not wear a belt until you need it.

The point when you will need a belt depends on when you are going for a maximum lift. Again, on warm-ups go as long as possible without a belt to engage your core as long as possible. Once you feel your form would break down on a heavy set, then it’s time for a belt. If you are a competitor, always use a belt in competition.

An injury will also affect when you will put your belt on. Athletes with nagging back pain but solid form, especially with squats and deadlifts, could benefit from using a belt earlier in the rep scheme. If an athlete is able to lift pain-free with a belt, then by all means go for it.

If you are thinking about getting a weight belt, talk to athletes who wear them. Belts are like shoes — you need to find the right one for you. Try to get a high quality belt because it does make a huge difference. Take the time to learn how to breathe properly and push out on the belt to create intra-abdominal pressure. And, as always, if you need help, let me know.

WOD Repair Lotion

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

note_3_last_upload_463__349081429745570451416Did you know that we carry WOD Repair lotion in the Pro Shop at the Cave?
What is WOD repair lotion ?
WOD Repair Lotion is an all natural skin care product that can be used to heal the plague of ripped hands, dry skin and achy calluses. WOD Repair Lotion helps keep calluses under control when working out or training hard.
Here at WOD Repair Lotion we know that calluses are important for grip strength but often get neglected and turn into painful, thick calluses that rip open. We like to promote healthy calluses which allow you to keep your grip strength. Keep your calluses in check by using WOD Repair Lotion on a daily basis for maintenance. WOD Repair Lotion not only gives you healthy calluses but also heals serious rips and burns! 
How it works:
There are only FIVE ingredients in WOD Repair Lotion and each ingredient on it’s own can heal your skin. Nothing to dilute down the healing power so all you get are results. WOD Repair Lotion heals from the inside out because the beeswax creates a barrier between your skin and the environment allowing all the ingredients to go through the epidermis (outer layer of skin and callus) and into the dermis (inner layer of skin and callus), thus healing from the inside out and giving you healthy calluses.

Completely safe to put on an open wound such as a ripped open callus or freshly scrapped shin because both beeswax and coconut oil are anti-bacterial and anti-fungal so it will help kill off any bacteria that may be present. You won’t need neosporin anymore!
Apply anytime post WOD as your post workout skin recovery

Whether you are just working out or training in Olympic Weightlifting, Functional Fitness, Gymnastics, or anything in between, WOD Repair Lotion is the product for your skin recovery!

Paleo Shepherd’s Pie

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

3/4 pound(s) parsnip(s), peeled and grated
1 tablespoon(s) olive oil
1 teaspoon(s) onion salt
1 slice(s) bacon
1/2 pound(s) zucchini, sliced
1/4 pound(s) mushrooms, white button, cremini or shitaake, sliced
1 medium celery stalk(s), diced
1 teaspoon(s) coconut oil
1/2 medium onion(s), red, finely diced
11/4 pound(s) turkey, ground
2 medium onion(s), green, sliced
1 tablespoon(s) Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon(s) celery salt
1/2 teaspoon(s) black pepper, freshly ground
8 large egg white(s), divided
1/2 cup(s) parsley, fresh, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
2. Peel parsnips and grate with a cheese grater. Mix with onion salt and olive oil, and set aside.
3. Cook bacon slice in a large saute pan over medium heat. Save bacon fat and leave it in the pan. Cool bacon slice, crumble, and set aside.
4. Add zucchini, mushrooms, and celery to the pan with the bacon fat and saute until slightly softened.
5. Heat a separate pan over medium-high heat, and add coconut oil when hot. Add onions, ground turkey, Italian seasoning, celery salt and black pepper to taste. 6. Saute until turkey is fully cooked.
7. Combine meat and vegetables in one pan and mix thoroughly. Let cool 5 minutes.
8. Combine 4 egg whites with parsley and stir into the meat and vegetable mixture.
9. Combine the other 4 egg whites with parsnips.
10. Coat an 8×8 baking dish with olive oil.
11. Add meat and vegetable mixture, cover with parsnip mixture and top with crumbled bacon.
12. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the top begins to brown.

The Mental Side of Athletics Injuries

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

1010234_673068209386082_549566797_nThe mental challenges you endure after an injury can often be more frustrating than the physical pain. Recently, I wrote a post challenging our community to avoid injuries. Injuries can still happen, however, so this post focuses on the mental challenges of having them and the process of channeling their effects productively.

You’re injured. Even with the best training, strategies, and perfect form, it happens. You can’t change it; you can only move forward. But how?

For me personally, moving forward begins with patience, determination, and valuing what I have. Focus on what you CAN do, not on what you can’t. Injuries can feel like nightmares, because most are not easy to cope with. They can be constant reminders of our new weaknesses, naturally leading to feelings of anger and frustration. However, once you refocus and take control of your overall outlook, you will already have taken a huge step in making the most of your recovery.

Have patience with your body, but also have patience with your mind. It’s okay to feel sad. Allow yourself to mourn and feel whatever loss you are experiencing. While feeling is an important part of the healing process, it’s also important to stay as positive as possible. Be patient with the process while maintaining your determination to become better and stronger. Use this opportunity to rebuild the foundation of your body and strength, and come back even better than before!

I strongly believe your mental attitude is everything when dealing with an injury. When positive, your attitude can speed up the healing process and lessen your emotional pain. I also firmly believe that negativity will slow down the rehabilitation process, making you miserable. (I don’t have any scientific research to quote here, just my own experience.) As a lifelong athlete with more than my share of sports injuries, believe me when I say that it’s all up to you. Negativity about your situation will only bring you down and possibly worsen your symptoms, while patience and determination will reward you every single time.

Practice your skills and/or routines mentally. On a daily basis (only 5 to 10 minutes at a time), use mental rehearsal to see, hear, and feel yourself performing in your sport, executing each movement flawlessly with perfect timing. Regular mental rehearsal of your skills will keep your neuromuscular connections activated, ensuring a quicker and easier transition back into your sport when you are able to actually begin physical practice again.

Similarly, try daily to spend 5 to 10 minutes imagining your body beginning and continuing to heal. “See” in your mind’s eye a healthy supply of red blood cells surrounding the injured area and facilitating the mending process. Again, I can’t scientifically prove that this will speed up your healing. I can promise, however, that you’ll feel less helpless, more in control, and much more positive. These attitude changes in themselves will speed up your recovery.

Lastly, please be conscientious about your physical therapy and follow your doctor’s advice closely. Your physical therapy will actually work in conjunction with your mental recovery. Remember that healing is a process, so don’t cut corners, looking for the quickest exit. Work just as hard during your rehabilitation as you do in your training. You’re still an athlete.

And don’t forget to talk to us, your coaches and your community. We are here to help.

“So what exactly is Tabata and why is it called that?

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Well, the story starts with the Japanese Olympic Speed Skating Team. In 1996 team trainer and scientist Izumi Tabata conducted a study analyzing the effectiveness of a specific High Intensity Training program that the head coach had developed specifically for his athletes. The team was divided into different groups. The first group trained on ergonomic cycles at moderate intensity for one hour, five days per week, for a total of six weeks. The second group completed four-minute, high-intensity workouts on ergonomic cycles four days per week for a total of six weeks. The program that group two followed is what has come to be known as Tabata training:

Eight rounds

One round: 20 seconds of ‘all-out’ work, followed by 10 seconds of rest

Tabata describes the desired intensity of work at around 170% of an athlete’s VO2 max—their maximum rate of oxygen consumption. At the conclusion of the six weeks of training, Tabata found that group two had experienced a 28% increase in their anaerobic capacity, as well as a 14% increase in their VO2 max. When summarizing the effect of the study and the HIIT program, Tabata writes that

“moderate-intensity aerobic training that improves the maximal aerobic power does not change anaerobic capacity and that adequate high-intensity intermittent training may improve both anaerobic and aerobic energy supplying systems significantly, probably through imposing intensive stimuli on both systems”.

This was a significant finding, as most authorities had regarded the two pathways—and training for them—as compartmentalized. Aerobic training was largely long slow distance (LSD) work, and anaerobic training was typically regarded as some hard-to-measure dark component left to the explosion sports.

Dr. Tabata examined several different protocols but settled on eight sets of twenty-second work intervals alternating with ten-second rest intervals as the most effective interval times for improving VO2 max. In the original study the intervals were performed at a quantifiable 170 percent of VO2 max. (Just think max effort.) In the field, where measurements are more subjective, the effort should be such that on the eighth set the trainee is nearing exhaustion. In the original study, the test subjects doing 4-minute “Tabata” intervals saw greater VO2 max improvement than the control group that did 60-minute sessions of moderate-intensity exercise.

Dr. Tabata’s research tested subjects on stationary bikes, but in the CrossFit world his protocol is applied to all variety of functional movements. The Tabata protocol is applied to exercises including squats, pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, rowing, and, in my practice, dumbbell moves. We generally score Tabata intervals based on the lowest number of reps completed in any one of the eight twenty -second work intervals.


Tabata training increases the metabolism and heart rate immediately, the ability to produce work will lower as you go through the sessions.  The body will burn fat for up to 24 hours, because the metabolism will stay at the high levels after the workout.  Tabata training will increase cardiovascular fitness as well as core and strength gains depending on the workout.  It is a fast paced exercise routine that is very time efficient, all you need is 4 minutes.

Also, these high-intensity efforts produce this dramatic aerobic benefit without the muscle wasting brought about by endurance training.


  • The Tabata routine is not for beginners, it is easy for the intensity to become overwhelming for beginners.
  • There is a greater risk of injuries since it is high impact exercise.
  • Muscles fatigue quickly, that could lead to mental fatigue and depleted motivation.

Typical Tabata workouts (try a new one):

  • Push up (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Body Weight Squats (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Medicine Ball throw downs (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Jumping rope (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Mountain Climbers (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Sit ups (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Sprints (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Stairs (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Bench press (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Calf raisers (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)

How do I get a copy of the WOD Recovery Yoga eBook? Here’s how.

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015
wod-recovery-yoga-cover-75x925-version-7Hi Athletes,
As many of you know, we have been finishing each class with WOD Recovery Yoga programmed by our resident yogi, Stephanie Ring. The yoga programming is designed around each workout to optimize recovery, maintain and increase mobility and prevent injuries. Up until now, the only way to use this yoga programming was at the end of class. Available now to purchase and download is the WOD Recovery Yoga eBook for Functional Fitness Athletes. This eBook contains 70 yoga postures, from child’s pose to savasana, sequences for the top 20 CrossFit movements and lists of poses by muscle group to help you target the areas you need most. This is a great resource if you need an active recovery day with lots of mobility work or can’t make it into the gym but need to stretch.
Click on the link below for more details about the eBook.
Discount Code: CFMarin2015 for $10 off the $24.99 price

KT Tape, What is it? How does it work?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

rtOn any given day in the gym, you may see countless athletes, regardless of their fitness levels, covered with crazy colored strips of tape on various parts of their bodies. You may be wondering, What is this tape and why should I care?

Kinesio tape, or KT tape, is a product developed in 1979 by Japanese chiropractor Kenzo Kase. Dr. Kase recognized that manual therapy (i.e. massage therapy, chiropractic care, and physical therapy) was extremely effective for treatment of different ailments, but often the effects were temporary. He wanted something his clients could use between appointment sessions to increase efficacy of manual therapy for lasting results. As opposed to the traditional methods of taping which focused on restricting motion and compression, Dr. Kase developed kinesiology taping, a method that promotes circulation in an effort to ease muscles but keep blood flowing, allowing injuries to heal more quickly. The kinesio taping method was introduced to the United States in 1995, and has been growing in popularity ever since.

Kinesio Tape Tech
Let’s start by looking at the basic function of KT tape. This is not your ordinary athletic tape. Traditionally, athletes or others with muscle injuries would tape a muscle or joint to restrict motion and prevent further injury. For example, for a strained calf muscle, old-school methods would dictate wrapping tape around the entire lower leg — calf, shin, tibia, fibula, etc. — almost like a mummy. While that would prevent further strain by immobilizing the injured muscle, it would also impede circulation and slow down the body’s natural healing process.

Kinesiology taping takes the opposite approach, using the tape to open up the muscle and allow full movement. KT tape is applied on top of an injured or strained area to stabilize it, but care is always taken to ensure that a muscle or tendon is never encircled with a ring of tape. “As you move, the tape, skin and connective tissue (or fascia) over the muscle or tendon also move, pulling slightly away from the muscle and creating space for lymphatic fluid to flow around and cleanse the inflamed tissue. ” Please read this sentence twice because this is the crux of KT tape.

Dr. Kase lists the following as the four major functions of kinesiology taping (these functions drive the technology behind the tape):
Supporting the muscle — Proper taping improves the muscle’s ability to contract even when it’s weakened; reduces pain and fatigue; protects the muscle from cramping, over-extension and over-contraction.
Removing congestion to the flow of body fluids — Kinesio tape improves blood and lymphatic circulation and reduces inflammation and excess chemical buildup in the tissue.
Activating the endogenous analgesic system — This requirement means that the tape must facilitate the body’s own healing mechanisms, a central focus in chiropractic medicine.
Correcting joint problems — The goal is improving range of motion and adjusting misalignments that result from tightened muscles.
KT Tape Benefits: (in my opinion)
Kinesio tape can be a huge asset for athletes. KT tape is extremely strong and can be applied with different tensile strengths which allows the muscles and ligaments to have “help” when injury occurs. The tape essentially stabilizes an area, for example the shoulder, to prevent any further damage.

Kinesio tape can also significantly help with alignment. If you have a tendency to slouch or have an area of the body that is not properly aligned, kinesio tape can bring the body back into alignment and help the athlete sense how this feels in the body. Having correct alignment can decrease pain and help the joints recover from activities.

Kinesio tape can also help decrease pain in certain areas of the body. After manual manipulation, KT tape can be placed on the affected area (using a different method or style of taping depending on the area) to decrease pain and discomfort. If there is swelling, there is a specific taping method that helps drain fluids into the lymphatic ducts to decrease swelling and help the body heal.

The great thing about KT tape is that it still allows for range of motion, just not so much that you are likely to injure yourself further.

KT Tape vs. Rock Tape
What is the difference between KT tape and Rock Tape?
Rock Tape is a type of KT tape that has been enhanced to provide extra stretch without compromising compression. Rock Tape is made for CrossFitters by CrossFitters. I’ve used them both, and I do have a preference, but I suggest you see for yourself.

If you want to try kinesiology taping, or you need anything taped, let me know. When taped properly, KT tape can make a significant contribution to injury prevention, recovery, and pain.

Post-exercise nutrition (Recovery Drink)

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

rogue-shaker-bottle-2_2Recently I’ve been asked a lot of questions about what’s the best Post-exercise nutrition.  This is a blog I wrote last year, I felt it would be helpful to repost.

It’s hard not to notice the assorted blender bottles filled with some mysterious, powdery concoctions that CrossFitters run to inhale after they finish a WOD.  Have you ever wondered exactly what it is we’re drinking and why?  What is this strange powder? These interesting concoctions are our important post-exercise recovery drinks.  Now, allow me to explain the “why.”

Post-exercise nutrition can improve the quality and the rate of recovery after a serious exercise. The right nutrition ingested immediately following a workout, and up to two hours later, can drastically improve one’s recovery time. Classic signs of poor recovery include fatigue, lackluster workouts, extended muscle soreness, lack of increased strength, and lack of increased muscle mass.  Obviously, we’ll experience certain degrees of these signs at different times, but wouldn’t it be great to minimize them?

First, a little science lesson to aid in your understanding:  From a physiological perspective, muscle fibers are made of protein and will increase in size if the protein is synthesized. Exercise increases the breakdown in muscle protein while decreasing protein synthesis. Exercise also depletes glycogen (consisting of glucose molecules), which is what the muscles use for energy.

The goal of post-exercise nutrition is to replenish the glycogen stores and encourage protein synthesis, or muscle building. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of glucose, the molecule used to build glycogen. By ingesting carbohydrates, glycogen stores are replenished rapidly, which is important because consistently low glycogen stores lead to a breakdown of muscle protein and a loss of muscle mass. Carbohydrates also increase the body’s insulin concentration, which is essential for glycogen and protein synthesis. Carbohydrates also promote the release of growth hormone, which promotes protein synthesis, and leads to increased muscle mass. Finally, carbohydrates decrease cortisol concentration. Cortisol, also known as a “stress hormone,” is released in response to both physical and psychological stress. During a workout, cortisol levels are increased, causing muscle protein to break down.

Adding protein to a carbohydrate mix will significantly enhance the release of insulin compared to carbohydrate alone.  Whey protein is quickly absorbed, while additional amino acids increase their availability to be used as building blocks. An important essential amino acid in a recovery drink is leucine because it works synergistically with insulin to maximize protein synthesis.

What does the the optimal post-recovery drink nutrition look like after a high intensity WOD?  The drink would consist of a mixture of carbohydrates and protein, with no more than a 2:1 ratio. If the recovery drink is consumed immediately following exercise, the rate of glycogen synthesis is three times higher than if it is consumed two hours after exercise completion. Therefore, it is important and more beneficial to consume the drink as soon after exercising as possible.

So, the next time you witness a box full of sweaty, exhausted CrossFitters reaching for their blender bottles filled with mysterious powder, you’ll know they are just making sure to get the most out of all the hard work they just did.