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Archive for April, 2012

Punching - Gymnastics, Not Striking

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Gymnastics tumbling is generally about “punching” not jumping. It is primarily utilizing the stretch reflex in our musculature instead of the concentric contractile action. This stretch reflex matched to the timing in the spring floor can send gymnasts skyward. If their positions are also spot on then movements that appear impossible can occur. Steven Legendre is one of the premier examples of this. His power is incredible. I discussed Steven’s power output in “Extreme Power Applied”. The key point here is a tremendous amount of this power comes from the stretch reflex. This type of muscle action is incredibly powerful and incredibly efficient.

The stretch reflex is effectively utilizing a muscle as a spring. There are mechanical losses, but it is an amazingly efficient action. Muscles are far less efficient than a well made spring at returning energy put into stretching them, however they can do something that a spring will never do. They can add energy to the system on the rebound. This allows us to bounce higher than an initial drop. There is an awful lot of mechanics that go into this additional energy. Some is from the stretched muscle itself, some is from mechanics of other muscles and body parts pre-stretching to enable a high energy rebound. Whatever the mechanisms we want to utilize these forces whenever possible.

There has been a tremendous amount of debate on the mechanics of punching in the gymnastics community. For  a while there were two camps. The straight limb camp, and the bent limb camp. Many were arguing that optimal tumbling power was going to come from straight arms and straight legs. High frame rate video analysis of the best tumblers in the world would certainly indicate otherwise. There is a slight bend in anticipation of contact with the tumbling surface and a rapid extension to meet the surface to block away from it. Many coaches still direct toward straight limbs even though they know some minor bending will occur. Most athletes will intuitively bend and prepare for the floor if they are trying to keep their limbs straight. Excessive bending results in “mushy” tumbling and a significant loss of power.

Look at the mechanics of various jumps. There are significant differences in what physiology is at play depending on approach, surface and athleticism. It is fascinating to see how many different things the human body can do.

Mental State and Competition Performance

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

When you are getting ready to compete it is very important to be aware of and in control of your mental state.  Before competitions I often see people freaking out with nerves or sometimes detrimentally working themselves up into such an anxious-frenzied state of adrenaline that they wear themselves out like a fire cracker right as the competition starts.  Usually more experienced veteran athletes stay more calm, focused and controlled.  Of course this also depends on what type of performance or activity is going to be performed during the competition.  I think that it is a lot more beneficial for a power-lifter to work themselves up to a heightened-frenzied  state of arousal with as much adrenaline as he/she can muster right before performing a max dead lift than it would be for an gymnast before performing a high-bar routine.  Another consideration would be the duration of the event or performance.  Said power-lifter may only need to sustain their mental/emotional state for a few seconds until the lift is complete whereas a baseball pitcher would have to not only pitch, but calculate and strategize dozens if not hundreds of throws through the duration of a baseball game where a heightened state of emotional frenzy would not be sustainable.  I myself usually like to feel at least a little nervous yet lucid and calm before a competition.  If you don’t feel nervous at all, (which on occasion I don’t) you may not have all of the power and energy that would otherwise be at your disposal, yet on the other hand feeling overly worried or scared may wear you out and can get in the way of your execution, coordination and thought process during complex skills.   So be sure to practice controlling your level of mental and emotional arousal as part of your training for high-stakes performances.  Please post any questions, thoughts, or musings to comments.

What does YOUR game face look like?

What does YOUR game face look like?

CrossFit Fashion

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Reflecting on last weeks posts, I think it is absolutely necessary that we have a pink sports bra day.  I mean, it would completely contribute to our community building, our participation in events…and, giving me the privilege to laugh my caboose off!  I will initiate this day soon, and be sure to let you all know.  It must be done on a day with a long chipper or something.  A WOD with a lot of double unders!  Just please promise that you wont leave me high and dry, like you all did on Halloween!  The lumberjack, the fitness fairy and the cheetah were all very sad to not have any other friends.

But onto more important elements of fashion, ones that I need your help with, I’d like to talk about the clean.  Have you ever thought you were going to break your clavicles catching a barbell in your front rack?  Or maybe you catch the barbell high and choke yourself out with the bar?  Maybe you have caught the bar low and upon finishing the lift the bar rolls over your clavicles, as you hear and feel the grinding of the bar on the bone?  I have done all of these things, and they don’t feel good.  Right now, I look like I was beaten with torture devices to my upper thighs (there are speckled marks of bruising from the texture of the barbell and random circle bruises–just figured out the circles are probably knuckle marks from me catching the bar), and to my medial clavicles.  They are yellow.

I have even taken the phrase “lift your shirt with the bar” quite literally and lifted the bar right under my boobs.  That really didn’t feel good.  I imagine this is more of a feminine problem, but I suppose that if you men have some well developed pecks this could happen to you too.  It doesn’t take much.  If I am able to do this with my anatomy, I’m sure others with larger “front lumps” (for gender equality purposes) would really have some pain!

Unfortunately this problem is not going away.  I have tried rolling my shirt up, wearing sweatshirts (never choose one with a zipper for padding; not a good idea), convincing myself that my bones will build up some resistance to the pain.  Not happening.

I think we need to kick it old school.  I propose a sleeveless turtle neck, tight fitting of course, made of some sort of neoprene upper half.  It may not look good, but man I imagine it’ll fell good!  Not only will it compress the ” front lumps”, but it will protect your clavicles and your neck.  Maybe we can walk away from cleans not looking like someone just strangled us




If any of you can make this happen, please do.  I’d wear it!

Really Incredible Sweet Potato Fries

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

sweet_potato_fries11If there were such a thing as Paleo sinful, this recipe would be it. Sweet, indulgent and comforting, these easy-to-make fries offer cheat-day satisfaction any time you want!

  • Ingredients
  • 2 medium to large sweet potatoes or yams (garnet, beauregard, and diane are sweetest this time of year)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp curry
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Preheat over to 400°. Peel (or scrub well) potatoes and cut into 2 to 3 inch long wedges. Place potatoes along with all other ingredients in a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Shake well until the potatoes are evenly coated with oil and spices. Spread onto a foil or parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer and bake for about 30 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. Serve hot and enjoy!

Nick is Married

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Yes, coach Nick is now married. A beautiful outdoor ceremony (officiated by our very own Bill B.) was held in Kenwood. It was great to see two people I care a ton about make commitments to each other. I’m so excited to see Nick and Amy grow together. Now, if you want to see coach Nick dance you will have to head over to our Facebook page:

Nick will be out for a little while on his honeymoon, but be sure to congratulate him when he returns.

The Cave at Coleman Run For The Gold

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Today was Coleman Elementary School’s annual Run for the Gold. It is a 1 mile, 4k and 7k run starting at the school and looping through the neighborhood. Parents and kids alike do the run and it is used to raise funds for the school and promote healthy lifestyles. We were asked 3 years ago to come by and set up our stuff for additional activities for the kids. It became an annual thing for The Cave as well. (Though this was our first year there as “The Cave”). It was a ton of fun again, and the kids had a blast. We saw a lot of kids that remember us from previous years, and met a lot of new families. This is a great time for us to get out in the community and help out as well as bringing more awareness of what we are doing.

Does your school run an annual fair? Are there fitness fun days, health events, and the like? Could the Cave’s mobile gymnastics and parkour equipment add to the day. Let us know and we’d love to see where we could help serve.

Basketball In The Cave?

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Last week we had the opportunity to help train a local youth basket ball team. One of our members generously paid for gym time and staff to bring these boys over for two days to train. Coach Bryan put together a fantastic program for them. It was great to see these guys work. There were speed drills, agility, jumping work and more. Working with athletes to help build their conditioning base is what we do very well. Having members that can help us provide this service when it might not otherwise be possible is amazing. Thanks to all involved.

It’s Not About Looking Good Naked. It’s About Being Like Spiderman

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

I just read Amanda’s blog about looking good naked.  Then I noticed a comment by Debbie that somehow ties me to the subject matter.   So I guess it would be appropriate for me to express my views on this whole affair.  First off, I have the highest respect for Amanda and I am particularly fond of her awesome arsenal of skills and her exemplary character.  I also get where she is coming from, but I myself am the exact polar opposite.  I have never been motivated by “wanting to look good naked”.  My motivation has more to do with “wanting to be like Spiderman”.  Spiderman is awesome.  He’s small and unassuming enough to not be too conspicuous, yet if motivated enough, he could pick up a truck and throw it over his head.  This kind of strength is much more desirable than looking good naked.  How about being such a good gymnast/acrobat that you could swing between buildings and balconies and travel through cities without even using a car?  Way cool.  I have to keep working on those parkour skillz!  Also, despite my obstinate obsession with rock-climbing, I’m still nowhere near the level of Spiderman.  Spiderman is probably  almost as good as Chris Sharma, so he can probably climb about V-12 or 13.  I can only climb V-5’s plus-or-minus a grade or so.  I have my work cut out for me.

So despite all of the flack that I’ve gotten for “not wearing a shirt most of the time”, vanity is personally not a motivating factor at all, yet Debbie isn’t too far off the mark with her comment.  Although I don’t wear a pink sports bra, I AM that girl on the treadmill.    It sounds to me like she was more concerned about her performance than about her looks.   When I find someone like that I would much rather approach them, see if they’re friendly and are interested in being my workout partner, but that’s just me.  The rest of you can worry about naked-or-not-naked and keep hating if you want to.

As far as I see it, it’s not about your looks so much as it’s about what skillz you have and what you can do.  Quite frankly, I think that worrying about looking naked is a complete waste of time and usually other people’s as well.  You would look better and more importantly be more skilled if you spent that time doing something fun and interesting like learning how to dance or doing Judo.  Also, never forget that “With great power, comes great responsibility.

“I want to look good naked”

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Don’t we all.

One of my favorite people in the gym said this to me a few months ago when we started with the nutrition challenge.  Not, “I want to lose 10 pounds,” and not “I want to wear size whatever,” but “I want to look good naked.”  That’s real talk!

I am sure this person wouldn’t care in the least if I exposed who they are, but for sake of sakes, they shall go nameless.  The point is, I hear ya.  I want to look good naked, too.

I’ll never forget when I was at the UCLA gym…and I should mention that this was a pre-crossfit period in my life…girls wearing makeup, students reading while “working out” (complete joke–we all know if you can read while doing a workout you are doing nothing), boys comparing just how low their arm pits holes were cut (by the way, why?)…seriously just a social hour.  Now, I’ll admit that I too gained weight in college, like many do.  So I wasn’t in the best shape I’ve ever been in, but I at least went to the gym for a reason, and that reason was to workout.  I did not want to meet guys, and I certainly did not want to bother putting makeup on to go to the gym (still don’t…by the time I’m done I’d look like a clown).

And there she was.  She was wearing tiny little shorts and a pink sports bra. She was on a treadmill and man was she running.  Fast.  I mean, she was in a full stride.  I just so happened to pass by (because I just had to walk in her direction) and see that she was in her fourth mile, so this girl was no joke.  She was running.  Not only was I impressed with her pace and distance, but also she was hot!  Lean, muscular, legs for days.  To top it off, she glistened.  You know those people who just look good when they sweat?  She was one of them.  Not me.  I turn beat red and get blotchy.  B!t@$.  That was the only thing that came to mind.  And if you are offended by this encrypted word, I assure you all I am doing plenty of push ups these days!

What’s my point?  Why did I hate this chick?  Well, I wanted to look like her.  But here’s the thing… I never will.  I will never look like that girl.  I wont glisten and I wont have her body.  I have a completely different body type and its ok.  I want to feel good naked.

I have considered this for a while now.  I am headed to regional s where all the ladies are hot mamas, all super tough and well outfitted.  I have certainly thought about showing up to the party prepared, if you know what I mean.  I want to look just as good as they do.  But I would be stupid to try to diet down for appearances.  I need fuel right now.  I am going to work, and I feel good for it.  Food is just as important as training right now.  Good food.  So, most likely I will look just they way I do in one month from now.  I am content with this, because again, I feel good.  I feel really good (and I am there to do well–hopefully looking good while doing it).

So when you are considering what your motivations are, I am willing to bet that if you feel pretty good, you’re looking pretty good.  If you lose a bunch of weight, but feel like crap because of it, will it be worth it?  No way.  But if you are in the gym, working your butt off (or trying to build one), and you feel good at the end of every day, but still want some improvements in your physique, I’d say you’re in a good spot.  A little vanity can be good for all of us once in a while.  It keeps us going.

So think about what you want, and go get it.  Get to work, and you’ll find it fast.

Moroccan Grilled Salmon

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

salmon1Usually I find a recipe I like. Make it. See how it could be improved such as made more Paleo, be tastier, healthier, easier, etc., often making it a dozen or so times before posting. But this week I found one that is perfect as is! I made it Saturday. And Sunday. It’s that good. No changes, a direct lift from Mel’s awesome Moroccan Salmon recipe at The Clothes Make the Girl website. Here it is:

  • Ingredients
  • 1.5 to 2 pounds salmon filets with skin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix the oil, ginger, cumin, coriander, salt, and cayenne together in a small bowl and rub the marinade over the salmon. Cover and refrigerate for about a half hour. Preheat gas grill on high with lid closed for about 10 minutes, then place salmon skin-side down onto a cooking-spray greased grill. Close the lid and wait 4 minutes. Raise the grill lid and take a look. The skin should be a little blackened and starting to separate a bit from the pink flesh. Cross your fingers and flip the fillet(s). If all went well, do a happy dance and close the lid. Wait another 3-5 minutes, depending on how well-done you like your salmon, and enjoy! I followed Mel’s advice and served this with avocado mango salsa (1 mango, 1 avocado, 1/4 red onion, cilantro & lime juice to taste) and had a feast awesome enough to want to repeat it a second night in a row! (Bonus: salmon on sale at Safeway this week.)