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Archive for April, 2011

CrossFit Games Update

Saturday, April 30th, 2011
2009 Games Stadium Setup

2009 Games Stadium Setup

Workout #6 is almost complete. One more day to get in and do the workout. The escalating rep Fran on crack has been interesting. Strategies on pacing and how to partition sets most efficiently has been the key. Our own Jill S. hit this one solidly with 111 reps. As an individual her qualification to regionals is assured.

Our team has had some rough bits with a few of our top competitors not being able to hit the workouts at full capacity. We’re still in qualifying position, but just barely. Depending on who posts what scores tomorrow we may or may not make it. Gabe T. and Andres D. still have to do workout 6. Their scores will determine if we make it or not. No pressure.

Team Tempest Freerunning Academy

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Hey Crew,

   Here is the promotional video of  Team Tempest’s newly opened Freerunning academy.  We had the idea of making a similar group video for our CF Marin group Ninja Warrior submission, but these guys are in their own free-running league.  Check it out, this is incredible…

Recognize anyone in the video?  Orosco?  Daniels?  Meeuwenburg? Hollywood?  That Paul guy?  Luci?

Please comment.   Next time we expand CF Marin, we’d like to build more custom/ dedicated parkour structures.  Any ideas?

Mining the Moon

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

We often talk about lofty goals. How about this one. Mining the Moon. The Moon is mostly made up of the same stuff the Earth is made of, however there is one thing that is present on the Moon that is only available in small quantities on the Earth. Helium 3. A very light noble gas infused into the surface of the moon. As far as a chemical it doesn’t have much practical application because it is inert. However, it may be the answer for industrializing fusion power. Stray neutrons are a bit of a problem with tritium - deuterium fusion. This is a significantly smaller issue with Helium 3 based fusion. Take a look:

Mining the Moon

Getting there is hard enough, now we’re talking about setting up camp, digging up material and shipping it home in quantities large enough to generate significant amounts of power. This is a huge goal, but huge goals are what help us strive. What huge personal goals do you have? What part are you taking in humanities huge goals?

Working Towards ‘The Position’

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Kelly Starrett and Carl Paoli have a series going on the CrossFit Journal right now called ‘The Position’, the most recent of which is on the pushup. I’d strongly urge you to get a membership to the CrossFit Journal. Kelly’s videos alone are worth the $25 annual subscription. What Kelly and Carl go over in these videos is similar in nature to the things I’ve described in my previous articles on stacking the bones and spreading the floor/bar. The cues for this position are

  • stomach down and tight
  • knees tracking over toes and hip external rotators firing
  • glutes and hamstrings ‘on’
  • tight upper back
  • shoulders back and externally rotated

This position can be applied to a wide range of exercises, from the squat to the double under to the pushup to the full snatch. The reason the cueing for all of these exercises is so similar is because we’re always trying to achieve the same thing with full body movements. We’re trying to efficiently transfer force from the ground to whatever we’re lifting while overcoming the vertical force of gravity. One of the best articles I’ve come across recently about cueing the stabilization of the torso is the following from Mike Robertson:

The Two R’s of Core Training

Mike’s two R’s of core training are:

  1. Re-distributing force
  2. Re-directing force

Re-distribution is good imagery for achieving ’the position’. Essentially, Mike is saying that no spot in the torso should be taking up an inordinate amount of force at any given time during full body movement. Think about it like a pool cover. If you crawled slowly onto a pool cover and spread out completely, the force would be distributed enough to keep you and the cover afloat. However, if you stepped on to one small spot, the concentration of force on that spot would cause you and the cover to sink immediately (I don’t recommend this).

Think of that small spot on the pool cover as your lumbar spine. If your glutes are turned off, your abs are loose, your shoulders are inflexible, and you’re hyperextending your lower back while push pressing overhead, there is very poor distribution of force throughout your body and all of it is concentrated on your lumbar. Not good. Not only will the loads you can lift be significantly reduced, but you’ll risk a higher chance of injury. Instead, try to make your torso like an iron drum, with equal tension and strength pushing outward at every single point. It takes good flexibility, body awareness, and a lot of practice to get this down, especially for the wide array of movements we engage in. Do your best to work on it in order to get closer and closer to ‘the position’ that Kelly and Carl talk about.


Sesame Pistachio Nuggets

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

sesame_nuggetsAlmost harder for me to give up than sugar on the Paleo diet was peanut butter. With the flavor and aroma of fondest childhood memories, I loved it dearly and put it on everything. Why it never came in a lip gloss flavor or hand soap scent I’ll never know. But since turning a new dietary leaf, I’ve found the beauty of other nut butters, and my currant favorite is tahini whose exceptional resistance to rancidity makes this week’s recipe a great snack to take along for an after workout – or any time of day – energy boost.

1 cup sesame tahini
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup currants
2/3 cup minced or ground pistachio nuts (salt free available at Trader Joes)
1/2 cup sesame seeds (these are a good buy at Asian food markets; I go to the one on Mary Street across from Whole Foods San Rafael)

Combine the tahini, honey and salt in a medium sized bowl. Add currants and pistachio nuts blending them into the mixture. Place sesame seeds into a small bowl. Form batter into 1-inch balls and roll each in the sesame seeds to coat. Store in the refrigerator or freezer. These are delicious cold, room temperature, and even fun to eat frozen.

Fat, Cholesterol and Carbohydrates

Monday, April 25th, 2011

I’ve had quite a few requests to do a blog post on this topic, but I’ve avoided it for a while because the subject is extremely complicated and there seems to be quite a lot of contradictory information out there.  The whole thing seems to boil down into a couple of simple misunderstandings.

Health Food.

Health Food.

First, is the idea that you are what you eat.  At the atomic level, this may be true, but our entire digestive process is designed to break down the foods we eat into molecules that can be used by our cells and sometimes those molecules look nothing like they did when we swallowed them.  Two examples here are dietary fat and dietary cholesterol.  I get the impression that many people believe that dietary fat is transported directly to our fat tissue and dietary cholesterol immediately goes to work depositing itself in our arteries.  But in actuality, digestion and metabolism of fats and cholesterols are pretty complicated things.  Fat is an extremely dense source of energy for our bodies and is necessary for a whole host of processes in the body, including creation of numerous hormones.  The same is true of cholesterol which is a precursor of vitamin D, makes up a significant portion of the structure of the brain and is necessary for the uptake of numerous hormones.  Our bodies have a variety of ways of synthesizing these and eating lots of them in the diet has not been shown to produce adverse health effects.

The second big fallacy is the idea that because a bad thing is made up of a particular substance, that substance is bad to have in our bodies.  For example, arterial plaque is made up mostly of cholesterol, therefore cholesterol is bad, right?  This makes about as much sense as saying that cancer patients should stop drinking water because cancer tumors are mostly water.  The problem isn’t high levels of cholesterol in the blood or the ratio of HDL to LDL, those are symptoms.

So, what’s the cause?  The most likely candidate seems to be hyperinsulinemia which in turn is caused by– you guessed it– excessive carbohydrate intake.  For those of you who haven’t been following along, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which triggers your body to release insulin.  Insulin is a transport hormone that moves glucose from the bloodstream into cells where it can be used for energy, stored as glycogen in muscles and the liver, or stored as triglycerides in fat cells.  The body responds to regularly high levels of insulin in the same way that it responds to regularly high levels of any other drug or hormone, by developing a resistance to it.  Insulin resistance (AKA, metabolic syndrome) is strongly associated with a whole host of nasty conditions, including atherosclerosis and heart attack.  Weird how that works.

There’s a whole lot more to this– like the roles of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, Vitamin D, exercise, inflammation and so on– but that’s the general idea.  I encourage you to do your own research, but here’s a few places to start:

If you’re unfamiliar with basic biochemistry as it relates to human metabolism, the Wikipedia entries on Carbohydrate Metabolism, Fatty Acid Metabolism, Lippoproteins and Triglycerides are a good start.’s article on Carbohydrates is good, as well, and less technical.  You can also visit, and  Finally, you can check out the movie, “Fat Head,” if you want– though there is a lot in there that is irrelevant entertainment — or more to the point, just visit the website and check out their useful links and recommended reading sections.

Quick CF Games Open Week 5 Update

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Week 5 is complete. Another bout of tremendous efforts from all of our athletes. This last week was a longer AMRAP. 20 minutes of 5 cleans (moderately heavy), 10 Leg lifts (toes must touch bar) and 15 wall ball. We had athletes that struggled with the load on the clean OR had trouble stringing leg lifts together OR got gassed due to the wall ball. It varied quite a bit from one athlete to another. The one consistent theme from this workout is that almost everyone ended up on the ground at the end of this workout. We’re headed in to week 6. It’s the last workout of the open. This one is a majorly messed up version of Fran. It is still thrusters and pull ups. But the thrusters are a touch heavier, and the pull ups must be chest to bar. Now here’s the twisted part. The rep scheme is 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, etc as long as you can for 7 minutes. This one is going to hurt.

American Ninja Warrior Tryout Videos & Deadline Extension

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

What’s up all you Sasuke fans?  Did you know that the deadline for the video submissions for the 2011 American Ninja Warrior tryouts has been pushed out until April 29th?  The open tryouts are on May 16th & 17th at Venice Beach if all goes according to schedule.  (They may change up the dates due to weather, etc.  It is a TV show, after all!)  Who wants to have a shot at going to Japan to run the world’s ultimate obstacle course and become America’s first Ninja Warrior?  Or just run America’s coolest obstacle course and have a great time with their friends and probably fall in the murky red waters?  You can even wear a funny outfit if you want.  Here are a few of the new submission videos from the gym:

Here’s mine:

And Roger’s…

  If anyone is interested in getting their submission in before Friday April 29th, please let me know.  We may have someone who is able to help with shooting & choreography.

Robert,… Don’t Leave Us, PLEASE!

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

But if you must, then we must have a going away party for you!  For all of you CrossFit Marin fans, if you’ve never heard Robert the Rock Star stir up the Karaoke bar, well, here’s your chance.  Let the good times roll!  (At least I don’t have to teach the morning classes on Tuesday!)  Come say good-bye to Robert on Monday May 2nd.  His last day in the gym will be on Saturday May 7th before he flies to New York to coach at his brother’s martial arts studio.  If you have any questions, ask Jasmin at the front desk or call us at 415.927.1630.  We’ll see all of you coach Rob fans there!Robert's fans at CFM and that Kareoke place

It’s American Ninja Warrior Season

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Hi Everbody,

  Many of you know that we’re in the middle of the CF Games open 2011, but did you know that it’s also American Ninja Warrior season?  G4 TV’s deadline for the American Ninja Warrior Submission videos is Friday, April 22nd, and the tryouts will be May 16th & 17th in Venice Beach, CA, so I thought it would be appropriate to post our very own Friday parkour coach, Andrey Pfening’s ANW III submission video. Enjoy!