The Cave

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Archive for March, 2014

What’s Happening This Week in The Cave?

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Our office moved!  Read all about it here:  The Office Is Moving!

The Open is almost closed!   Great work to all the athletes that participated.  Join us for our After the Open Celebration Happy Hour next Friday, April 4th, at 4PM.  See you there! (The Silver Peso, yo.)

SAVE THE DATE:  Cave Client Appreciation BBQ — Saturday, May 3rd 1-7PM.  Stay tuned for more information!

Are you looking for some fun activities to keep the family busy during the spring break?  Our Spring Break Camps are perfect for any kid at any level!   Kids love spending extra hours with their coaches or getting to know new ones.
Spring Break Camps:

Register on-line by clicking the links above, OR call 415-927-1630 to sign up now!

If you like the idea of keeping the kids healthily active during the summer (while giving parents a few hours break),  check out our Summer Camp schedule below!  Then be sure to register NOW, - these classes fill up FAST!
Summer Camps:


Swing Mechanics, Part 3 - The Support Swing

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

This article is the 3rd part of a 6-part series focused on swing mechanics and achieving efficient maximum swing on different equipment. Part 2 focused on the tap swing.  This week, the focus is the Support Swing.
A support swing is swinging in a free support between two fixed objects. From this position a swing can approach vertical in the forward swing and reach a handstand in the rearward swing. Working support swings builds support stability, strength, and shoulder mobility.

The Support swing
Start practicing the swing focusing on keeping your body completely straight. Your body should maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your toes. Do not pike in the forward swing, and do not arch in the rearward swing. The goal is not to see how high your feet can go, but to swing your entire body efficiently and effectively, as a unit. In the support your elbows should be turned so that the inside of your elbows are facing forward. This dramatically increases stability and will help prevent buckling as you swing through the bottom.
Once both your forward and rearward swings approach horizontal, you should start practicing the shrug. Through the bottom of the swing shrug your shoulders; then extend them at the top of both forward and rearward swings. This shrug allows for a very dynamic push at the peak of each swing, adding significant power to the movement. Practice the shrug by performing swings with relaxed, shrugged shoulders through the arc of the swing, and then, as it reaches its peak, extend your shoulders. This shrug and push gives additional upward force to the swing enabling greater function.

If you are performing your support swings on parallel bars there is an important skill to learn before attempting to reach a handstand. You should be comfortable with a forward roll on the bars. A forward roll is the safest way to bail out of a handstand that falls forward. Practice forward rolls by first kneeling on the bars. Your knees will be slightly outside the bars and your feet on the inside. Place your hands as close to your knees as possible. Lean forward and lift your hips, stick your elbows out so your upper arms rest on the bars. Push off your legs and roll over your arms, constantly pressing your elbows toward the floor to lock the shoulders into a “shelf” to support you. You will need to let go of the bars as you roll over, but this is a very natural reaction. At the end of the roll you will be in an upper arm support on the bars. Yes, this is uncomfortable, but it’s a necessary skill. The discomfort decreases as you get more proficient with the movement.

As the rearward swing approaches handstand, be sure to maintain a hollow body and push with your shoulders. Done properly this will ensure that the swing stops in the handstand. An arched swing leading with the heels, with the head out can easily swing past the handstand requiring a forward roll or other method of bailing out. A proper hollow swing to handstand will settle in the handstand regardless of how much momentum is behind it. If anything the swing will hop as it reaches vertical as the momentum is upward and not forward. A swing to handstand should be just an extension of a normal support swing. If you have to change your body alignment to get to the handstand, then the mechanics of your swing are not correct and you should continue to practice a proper swing before attempting to swing to handstand.

Next week Rings!

The Muscle Up — The Bane of 14.4

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Well, 14.4 has come and gone.   This week, I actually have nothing to complain about!  How amazing is that?  I think I finally decided to start competing…only 4 weeks into the game.  Nice, Amanda.

14.4–The Chipper: 60 cal. row, 50 toes to bar, 40 wall ball shots, 30 cleans, 20 muscle ups, 14 min. AMRAP


Ehren H. has taken the lead over Anthony of most attempts at this workout.  It paid off for him though, as 14.4.1 and 14.4.2 gave him no muscle ups, while 14.4.3 got him 2!  Great job Ehren!

Sera S. got 4 muscle ups in her second attempt.  Huge score for Sera, considering her muscle ups are a fairly new skill.  Awesome.

Mark A. apparently had seconds on the muscle ups and was able to pull out 4!

Martin H. takes the throne on 14.4 with 13 muscle ups completed!  Well done Martin!

Both Lori E. and Mark R. attempted 14.4 again on Sunday.   They improved significantly on their second go at it.

Lygia B. visited us from Outlier CrossFit in San Diego.  After getting used to our rings, she made a muscle up (almost 2) on her second attempt.

Again, so many PRs, so many epic tales.  Cavers, you continue to impress me!  Even if you didn’t make your muscle up, or you couldn’t complete the cleans, the gym performance has been outstanding.  (Some of you even competed sick.)  We’ve got one more to go, so stay in the game!

Here is our leader board:

Amanda’s recap of 14.4:

Competition Friday shaped up to be a good day.  I had planned to race Bo so that I would have someone to chase.  Most of you know about my love for rowing (it’s one of my least favorite activities, next to thrusters), so when I was informed that the chipper started with a row, my heart sank a bit. I was not going to do this alone!

After many graphs, tables, and time trials (thank you to the analysis team Martin, Ashley and Rich), I figured out that I wanted to be off the rower and started on the toes to bar at 3:30.  From there, in a perfect world, I could spend 2.5 minutes on the toes to bar, 1.5 minutes on the wall ball, and 2.5 minutes on the cleans.  This would give me 4 minutes of muscle ups.  Although this scenario was a bit ambitious, I wasn’t too far off.


I tried for the above splits.   I was slower on the toes to bar and a bit faster on the cleans, putting me to the muscle ups at 10:54.  Bo was off the rower probably 30-45 seconds before me, so I was able to chase him down on everything.  I was able to catch up on the cleans.  I tried for a set of 2 muscle ups which felt pretty good.  I was playing it smart by sticking to 2 so that I wouldn’t fatigue.  It hit fast, though, and I was able to complete 7, failing 3.  One of the fails was a fall from the top of the rings–very dramatic.   Bo completed 9.  Win for Bo.


I stuck to the same time plan.  I decided to break up the toes to bar more (because I failed some in the first attempt) and go harder on the wall ball (because I was scared of them on the first go).   I gained 20+ seconds on the toes to bar and wall balls, but used it during the cleans.  I think in the end this was a better idea so I wasn’t as winded for the muscle ups.   I ended up getting to the muscle ups one second faster than the first attempt. This time, though, I did singles.   Bo was faster here as well, having slowed down his row which made the entire workout different.  He was on the rings first getting a set of 5.  My goal was 10.  Doing singles, I was able to complete 10 with no fails and 30 seconds to go.  I went for 2 more and failed them both.  Bo also hit 10.   Tie for BoManda.  Martin still wins.

If I could change anything about my performance, I would have waited a little longer before attempting the 11th muscle up.  I most likely would have made the 11th, and failed the 12th.  I didn’t know I had hit the wall yet.  I ended up ranking 33rd on this workout which only bumped me up 3 places. I now sit at 47th. I was thinking that this would give me a better buffer, but I sit around a tight spread.  Until this week, I sit and pray for something good, but I’m pretty sure I know what to expect…not my favorites.


14.5 = Thrusters and Burpees

How to prepare:

Learn how to feel no pain, and do Tuesday’s programming!

Good luck everyone!

Zaatar and Plantain Bread

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

zaatarOne of the many advantages of a caveman diet is a healthy salt to potassium ratio. For the hunter gatherer, sodium – like sugar – was scarce whereas potassium was abundant. Consequently we adapted: our need for sodium is around 200 - 500 mg/day depending on climate and roughly 5,000 mg/day for potassium. Although there hasn’t been conclusive evidence linking a high sodium diet alone to cardiovascular disease, studies compellingly show that it’s the ratio of salt to potassium that makes a difference. A modern diet averages 4:1 sodium to potassium whereas our primal ancestors could boast the exact opposite. And when a healthy balance of potassium to salt is achieved, it’s not just heart health we can enjoy but many other benefits as well including a strong defense against age-related muscle loss, stroke, and osteoporosis.

So for the recipe this week, let’s up the potassium and lower the salt with plantains and za’atar. One 8 ounce plantain has close to 900 mg potassium, and Purely Twins got me started – and I can’t stop – enjoying the easy and delicious recipe below. Za’atar is a wonderfully flavorful Mid-Eastern spice blend made with sumac (can be found at Whole Foods) which has a zesty salt-lemon flavor. Combined with thyme and sesame seeds, this very low-sodium blend is wonderful spread on chicken or fish prior to baking, eggs, veggies, or even just stealing a pinch from the jar!

Za’atar Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground sumac

Oven dry the thyme for a few minutes in a 350° oven. Combine with rest of ingredients in a mortar and pestal, spice or coffee grinder and blend well. Store in a cool dark spot in an airtight container for 3-6 months.

Plantain Bread Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sized green plantain (you can use one that’s yellow, but the recipe will turn out very sweet)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350°. Place peeled plantain along with eggs into blender or food processor and mix until smooth. Grease a 9×12” pyrex baking dish with coconut oil and pour in mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Enjoy warm sprinkled with olive oil and za’atar.

Parkour Additions!

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

the_mega_boxYou might have noticed some recent construction occurring in front of 417.  This last week, we built a new feature for the parkour area.  It is an 8-foot tall wooden box, commonly called a mega box.  The mega box is a multi-use tool that allows us to practice wall runs, climb ups and spider wall.  Plus, the open “windows” on opposite sides of the mega box provide unique climb through opportunities.  We also added more wall features.  The mega box and new wall holds inspired hard work and solid training this week.  I’m looking forward to next week’s improvements and creativity!

Last week, in parkour, all the groups exceeded my expectations in the creativity, focus, and performance categories!  The classes participated in a creative exercise that we call “Add On”.    The Add On exercise works to build both mental and physical capacities by requiring focus in different areas.  The student needs to remember the sequence of movements being spontaneously created by the participants, while enduring the physical performance repeatedly.  All classes were impressive in their own interpretations of the game.  They all started with the same parameters as each group received a blue vault box and a hand rail.  While I made a few initial suggestions for moves, after a few minutes, the traceurs had a great parkour flow going and added moves that we have worked on in the past involving the scaffolding.

The progression of the traceurs in The Cave’s parkour program has been amazing to watch over the past few months.  The skill level just keeps going up!

Try playing Add On with your family at a playground or in your own backyard.  It’s a great way to get some fresh air, exercise and have a lot of fun!

What’s happening this week at The Cave!

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

From Roger:
“The CrossFit Games Open 2014 is coming to a close within the next week. Only one workout remains. We are waiting with anticipation to see what the final workout will be. I’m sure everyone hopes the workout contains at least one element of strength for each of us!  Work hard, stay strong.  Barring a disastrous last workout, our own Amanda N. is heading to Regionals! It will be her second bid at Regionals, initially qualifying in 2012. Let’s hope for a strong finish for Amanda!
Our three Level 6 girls are headed to State Championships on Sunday, March 30th. All three girls have done great in their first optional season. We have gymnasts in two sessions at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds. The first session starts at 12pm with Liv and the second session starts at with Ashlyn and Mia. Feel free to cheer on and show your support for our talented, young athletes!”

Are you looking for some fun activities to keep the family busy during the spring break?  Our Spring Break Camps are perfect for any kid at any level!   Kids love spending extra hours with their coaches or getting to know new ones.
Spring Break Camps:

Register on-line by clicking the links above, OR call 415-927-1630 to sign up now!

If you like the idea of keeping the kids healthily active during the summer (while giving parents a few hours break),  check out our Summer Camp schedule below!  Then be sure to register NOW, - these classes fill up FAST!
Summer Camps:


The Office Is Moving!

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Yes, we’ve expanded again!  This weekend, the office was moved from the “kitchen-bathroom-changing-storage-waiting-back-room area” to a space all it’s own!

Come see us at 405 Tamal Plaza, which is the entrance on the east side of the building, next
to the current pre-rec/toddler room (406). We are super excited about this great new space! You can do everything there that you did in the other “office”:  Check your invoice, sign your waiver, switch classes, get on a wait-list, register for spring/summer camp, pay your bill, and say “hi” to the amazing office staff - Crystal, Carolynn, Sheridan, Mikaela, and Amy.

Going forward, we will do our very best to steer all clients to 405 as The Cave’s new main entrance, as opposed to the back parking lot.  First, the new office space is a clearer, safer entryway than navigating the busy parking lot and entering through one of the multiple doors in back.  Second, on the business end, it just makes sense to enter the gym through the office and get everything done that needs to get done before working out (i.e. waivers signed, fees paid, etc.).  PLUS, you can do some shopping as you stroll in since the pro shop has moved up front as well!

The visibility and openness of the new space is a real plus as The Cave continues to grow. Our office staff won’t actually be hidden ‘in the cave’ anymore from new clients.  Our new space has windows and exposure to the natural light of day. Vitamin D is happiness!  We’ll get plants!  And they’ll grow!

Stay tuned as we continue to acquire more real estate in the 400 building in Tamal Plaza.  Just around the corner is a parkour expansion AND the big build-out we’ve been planning for some time now.  Thank you sincerely for your continued loyalty and patience as we piece it all together.  We wouldn’t, couldn’t, be here without you.

14.4 - A Little Something for Everyone

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

The Open does it again.  This time, we have a sweet little chipper that has something for everyone!

14.4 - Complete as many rounds and repetitions as possible in 14 minutes of:

60 calorie row
50 toes to bars
40 wall ball shots (20/14)
30 cleans (135/95)
20 muscle-ups

This workout is a great test of fitness.  For most of us,  there is something we’re good at and something we’re not!   For me, it was the row — I felt it took FOREVER to get through 60 calories, but I was grateful to have 50 toes to bar waiting for me.

Before you tackle 14.4, make sure you warm up everything because this workout hits all our major body parts.  Be kind to them so they can deliver when you’re ready.  Warm up with good mornings, leg swings, a few hollow rocks, pigeon pose, and some jumping air squats.  Build up to your clean weight, row 200 meters, then you’re good to go!

When you’re ready, set a good pace — about 80% on the rower.  You won’t spend too much time here, but you don’t want to burn out either.  If you don’t have muscle-ups or don’t think you’ll make it to them, don’t worry too much about saving your grip on the toes to bar.   Relax off the bar a few times for there are still cleans to do.  I did 2 sets of 15 and then 2 sets of 10, chalking up after my 2nd set of 15.  Then, it was time for the wall balls.

At this point in the workout, be sure to make every rep count!   You’re tired and your form is starting to deteriorate.  There is nothing more  heartbreaking than hearing, “No rep” because you didn’t break parallel, or worse,  just missed the target line for the ball.  Inefficiency will just make extra work for you to do.

Prior to starting, decide how many reps of each exercise you think you can do before breaking.  Think about previous workouts with wall balls and decide from there.  In most WOD’s I can do 10 without breaking, so I stayed with that number and it worked well. I counted to 10 in between each set and went from there.

If you make it to the cleans, take a second to remember your form.  You don’t have to worry too much about getting a no rep.  As long as the bar starts on the ground and makes it to the front rack in one clear movement, it’s a good rep.  BUT, 135/95 is a big weight under fatigue.  Think about your set up, keeping your head neutral, getting full hip extension while the bar remains close to your body, (but not so close that you break your clavicle).  If you’re doing touch and go cleans, make certain the bar clearly hits the ground every time.  If you’re like me and you dump it after every rep, be certain the bar comes to a rest before you set up again.  If you make it to the muscle-ups, you’re my hero!

When the 14 minutes were up, I took a quick 400 meter cool down run — I wasn’t ready to stop moving.

As always, The Open doesn’t disappoint and this  time it handed us a workout that has something for everyone.  When you’re done, hydrate and do some mobility!  I’m looking forward to Amanda’s recap of our amazing Cave athletes and her inspiring performance when 14.4 is done.

Swing Mechanics, Part 2 - The Tap Swing

Friday, March 21st, 2014

This article is the 2nd part of a 6-part series focused on swing mechanics and achieving efficient maximum swing on different equipment.   Part 1 focused on the fundamental factors involved with maximizing swing.  This week, the focus is the Tap Swing.

Tap Swing Downward phaseThe most common swing is from a single fixed bar.  The most effective mechanism for this swing is called a tap swing.  During the downward phase of the forward swing your body should be kept hollow and extended.  Push away from the bar and ensure that your shoulders are active and pressed up into your ears.  As the swing passes through vertical you should allow a small arch with the primary extension being in your chest and shoulders.  After the swing passes vertical, kick your toes toward the ceiling - not forward, but up, toward the ceiling. After the kick, pull back on the bar to fully extend your shoulders for the return swing.Tap Swing Downward phase
The rearward swing will be essentially a reverse of the forward swing.  On the downward swing, the shoulders should be fully extended and the body slightly arched.  As the swing passes vertical, the body will hollow slightly, followed by a heel tap.  After the heel tap, push down on the bar and hollow as the swing rises, then push against the bar to extend and prepare for the downward swing. Tap Swing Downward phase
To get started, initiate the swing by lifting your legs upward and forward.  Once you have a small swing going, start to work on the tap swing.  Initially, just try to relax and feel the timing of the swing.  Then, as your feel for the timing improves, you can begin to put more into the swing. Tap Swing Past vertical
As your swing grows you will find it increasingly difficult to hang onto the bar at the end of the rearward swing. Your hands can slide around the bar only when your fingers are following away from the swing.  Therefore, you must shift your grip at the end of every rearward swing.  At the high point of the rearward swing there is a moment of weightlessness.  This is the point when you should re-grasp the bar and prepare for your next swing.
Tap Swing Kick Up to ceilingIn the extreme, this opening of the hands in the rearward swing can become a “peel”, an involuntary release of the bar that most gymnasts have experienced at one time or another.  Peeling can be avoided with proper hand placements and gripping technique.  Once your swings exceed horizontal, you will need to over-grip the bar at the end of the forward swing.
Tap Swing Return Swing As you swing, allow your wrists to flex instead of allowing your hands to slide around the bar.  Focus on keeping your fingers on top of the bar to avoid peeling.  Gymnastics grips will help tremendously if you find it increasingly difficult to hang onto the bar.  With grips it is possible to swing nearly to handstand in the forward swing without peeling in the rearward swing. The mechanics involved in the tap swing are primarily about timing.  Once you’ve got the timing and mechanics down, you can generate a very large swing with very little effort.  The tap swing eventually becomes a giant, which is a swing from handstand to handstand on a high bar, completely around the bar in either direction.

Next week, I’ll dive into  the support swing.


Thursday, March 20th, 2014

zucchetti1Since being confirmed gluten intolerant and consequently giving up pasta completely – even as a cheat – I just was never jazzed about the idea of vegetables subbing as spaghetti. But I recently broke down, gave in and am really glad I did! Super easy, healthy, and bowl-licking good, I find myself making this more than I ever made its grain-based namesake. Is it pasta? No. But is it good? Yes! The trick to making this is a solid julienne peeler. I’m quite happy with my Kuhn Rikon; just make sure you get one with a good grip as whether you are strict Paleo, gluten intolerant, or just want a delicious and ridiculously easy side dish in a pinch, you may find yourself making zucchetti a lot!


This is for a single serving, but scales up well

  • 1 medium zucchini, washed (no need to peel)
  • olive oil
  • salt

Julienne the zucchini, skin and all, as shown in photo above. Place in a pyrex or otherwise microwave safe bowl. No need to add anything else. Cover and cook at regular heat setting for two minutes. Test for doneness, drizzle with olive oil, dash on some salt, and enjoy plain or with any topping you might enjoy over pasta. (Told you this was easy!)