Monthly Archives: May 2011
May 31st, 2011

We’re Going to Miss Papa Brad!


Three cheers for Brad!

As much as I hate posting pictures of myself on this blog, especially when I have such a special expression on my face going on, I thought this picture was appropriate, since the picture is all about Papa Brad.

We toasted to Brad, and a well-deserved toast it was.  We’re sad to see him go, but we wish him and his family well in their move up to Seattle.

Thanks to all who came out for the Memorial Day workout and to send Papa Brad off in style!

And check out our CFO Facebook Page for the group photo we took after the workout.  You guys and gals are what make CFO such a great place to train!

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May 30th, 2011

Last Call for Fish Oil & Memorial Day Reminder


We’re sorry for the delay but we’re finally getting around to placing the fish oil order.

Again, we get the best price break, $40 a bottle (including shipping), if we purchase 12 or more bottles.  While everyone’s daily requirement will vary, 1 bottle typically lasts a little over a month.  This is a great price for high-quality fish oil! 

Check out Green Pasture’s website for more information on fermented cod liver oil and their many other products.  For more general information on fish oil, check out CFO’s fish oil FAQ post.

If you want to go in on the order, please say so in comments.  Or if your name is listed below and you’d like to cancel or modify your order, you may also do so in comments. Please specify 1) the number of bottles 2) capsules or liquid 3) the flavor of cod liver oil you want.  We can mix & match fish oil as long as the product is of equal price.

Here’s a list of those who responded to the original post:

Candace 1 bottle Artic Mint, 1 bottle Cinnamon Tingle
Hannah 1 bottle Artic Mint, 1 bottle capsules
Beth 1 bottle Cinnamon Tingle
Ann G 1 bottle Cinnamon Tingle
Mark Demma 1 bottle Cinnamon Tingle
Nancy 1 bottle (please pick flavor)
Brian C 1 bottle capsules
Michelle M 1 bottle capsules
Trevor 1 bottle capsules
Aaron C 1 bottle Oslo Orange
Gary 1 bottle capsules
Connie 2 bottles Cinnamon Tingle
Papa Brad (will you still be in town?)

We will place the order on Tuesday 5/31. Please pay for your fish oil at the CFO Online Store


Holiday Reminder: There will be no regularly scheduled classes tomorrow, Monday 5/30.  Stop by at 3pm for a hero WOD in memory of Oakland SWAT Sergeant Daniel Sakai followed by a farewell potluck/BBQ for Papa Brad. Family and friends are welcome!

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May 29th, 2011

Front Squat

Here are some of you performing the front squat last week. It is worth watching just to see Lisa fighting her way up from the bottom of her squat.  

As you may notice, any flaws in the squat are much more apparent with the bar in front.  Any weakness in the trunk and knees are visible, even to the untrained eye.  Tom C. did a really great post explaining the front squat a while back.  You can read it here.  

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May 28th, 2011

Neuromuscular Efficiency

Rippetoe coaching the deadlift

Mark Rippetoe coaching the deadlift at Eastside S&C in Redmond, WA

Many people are resistant to the idea that increases in bodyweight may be necessary to get stronger. There are many examples of athletes that perform amazing feats of strength at very low body weights. Many of these athletes did a good job of choosing their parents and may be capable of these feats because of how their nervous system interacts with their musculature. Let’s discuss that.

There are two primary ways in which a trainee can get stronger. The first involves making the nervous system more effective at firing muscles. When a trainee lifts a weight, motor neurons send the signal to a group of muscle fibers to contract. A motor neuron and the muscle fibers it innervates are called a motor unit. As far as we understand it, when a motor unit is turned on, it contracts at full strength. More force is produced when more motor units contract at the same time. A trainee that can recruit large numbers of motor units at the same time is going to more fully realize their potential to generate force. They possess high levels of neuromuscular efficiency.

Neuromuscular efficiency, like most physical traits, responds to training. In an untrained individual, neuromuscular efficiency is probably low. These trainees will see rapid strength gains in strength once they start lifting. They can get stronger without putting on much weight because they are training their bodies to use the resources at their disposal more effectively.

Like most good things, these gains do not continue indefinitely. After several months of training, many of the easy neurological improvements have been made. A trainee can still become more efficient, but the gains come from an increasingly small slice of the pie. This is when we need to look to the second method for increasing strength – finding ways to make the muscles contract with greater force. That’s a topic for another day.

Before we call it quits, however, I want to return those individuals who are able to be both very light and very strong. Keeping neuromuscular efficiency in mind, we can surmise that these people have nervous systems that are well plugged in to their muscles. At the cellular level, they may also have contractile proteins that generate greater force than other people, but for the sake of simplicity, they are neuromuscularly efficient. How can you identify these people quickly and easily? Ask them to perform a standing vertical jump. Those that jump the highest will be the ones that tend to excel at athletics. There are, of course, exceptions to that, but a vertical jump is a nice easy field test to determine how efficient a trainee is at recruiting motor units.

While we can get better at using what we have, there is no real way to increase the level of innervation of the muscles in adults. Those kinds of the things are set into motion during fetal development. If you don’t have a 34-inch vertical jump, what can you do when you want to get stronger? We’ll discuss that in the next installment.

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Category: Fitness
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May 27th, 2011

Food is Important…But Not Enough to Stress Out About



I came across this article recently on the Balanced Bites blog and thought I’d post a link to it here.  Although the article is ostensibly about bacon, it turns into a pretty nice reality check on food and our attitude surrounding it.  Making good choices with food is one of the most important things you can do to support overall health and well-being.  That being said, stressing out or simply devoting too much mental and emotional energy to every food choice you make is not something you want to do, either.

Some of the key points:

  • Knowing what the best choice is doesn’t mean you’ll always make it (in other words, cut yourself some slack).
  • Knowing how to prioritize a food choice is more important than simply hearing a certain food is bad for you or another food is good for you.
  • The idea that because a food wasn’t eaten by Paleo man (or woman), it shouldn’t be eaten at all, is weak sauce and doesn’t really stand up to closer scrutiny.
  • Food is NOT the end-all-be-all of what makes a person healthy. Pleasure in life, in what we choose to eat, and positive mental attitude can take a person a LONG way towards being healthy.

Read the full article here:

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May 26th, 2011

Memorial Day Hero WOD & Potluck – MON May 30th @ 3pm


Braving the elements today for "Wet Helen"

Come on down and honor your heroes – whomever they may be – and send Papa Brad off in style with a traditional CF Hero WOD followed by some serious lifting (of forks, knives and glasses).  

The gym will be closed for the holiday until we open the doors at 3pm on Monday, May 30th.  At that time, you can sign up on the white board for a heat and stick around for a group warmup.  We will run heats until every single one of you calls out TIME!  Here is a little hint regarding the WOD.  Provided for your perusal is Papa Brad’s short list of favorite Hero WODs with a couple of red herrings thrown in.  Rest assured the WOD you will be doing is listed below: 


If you plan to stay for grub – please bring along some protein for the grill and a side dish or dessert to share.  CFO will stock the fridge with beverages.

Family and friends are welcome!  Please RSVP to comments so we can properly plan. 

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May 25th, 2011

Another Article Extolling the Benefits of a Protein-Rich Breakfast


Beef:  It’s what’s for breakfast

I came across the following article on the CF Football site.  The article summarizes the findings of a University of Missouri researcher who found that those who ate a protein-rich breakfast had reduced food cravings and did not overeat later in the day.

Although the researchers point to the fact that eating the protein-rich diet kept the daily caloric intake of the subjects at a reasonable level, the success of the diet has more to do with the favorable hormonal signalling that occurs when a protein-rich breakfast is eaten (as evidenced by the post-meal brain scan MRIs that the researchers did on the subjects as part of the study).

I had to chuckle when I read about the high-protein breakfast that the subjects were given (Belgian waffles, syrup, and yogurt).  The researchers apparently have a different definition of high-protein than I do.

At any rate, the findings are interesting and seem to confirm what Gary Taubes and others (e.g., Michael Eades) have been writing about for a few years now:  eating protein and fat is a good thing.

Read the article summarizing the study’s findings here:

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May 24th, 2011

Volunteers Still Needed for CF Games NorCal Regional Competition


Tom S getting after some pull-ups during the CF Games Open Sectional

The CF Games NorCal Regional Competition is less than two weeks away, with individuals and teams set to compete June 3 through June 5 (several CFO athletes will be competing).

Joseph, who many of you know from the 7pm class, has volunteered for the second year in a row to be a judge, which is great.  He passed along an email a couple of days ago letting me know that the organizers of the NorCal Regionals are still looking for more volunteers. 

If you want to volunteer, and in particular be a judge, please go to the NorCal Regionals Facebook Page and fill out the volunteer form on that page.  You can also email the organizers at

The success of the CF Games running smoothly depends largely on the volunteer efforts of those in this wonderful community.  If you have an opportunity to help out, please do so and volunteer.

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May 23rd, 2011

The Rapture Day Muffins


The Guns

Thanks to everyone who came out yesterday for Ann’s special wedding day workout.   She rocked the white and even wore a veil during the entire workout!  And just in case you’re curious, here’s the wedding day wod to top all wedding day wods:

"The Rapture"
4 rounds of:
1 minute max rep 1 arm DB bent over rows
1 minute max rep push-ups
1 minute max rep pull-ups
1 minute max rep DB push-presses
1 minute max rep ring rows
1 minute rest

The bride demoing a bent over row.

Her pumped arms were sure to be on full display for her walk down the aisle; let’s hope they didn’t frighten her wedding guests!  Congratulations again to you, Ann!

Post-wod we celebrated Sierra’s birthday, which also happened to be yesterday, with some Paleo Apple Muffins.  The original recipe is from Sarah Fragoso’s Everyday Paleo cookbook (I added raisins & walnuts to mine).  I was surprised at how good these came out–just like the real thing!  These muffins are the perfect thing for a lazy Sunday morning at home. 

Paleo Apple Muffins
prep time: ~15 minutes
cook time: 20 minutes
makes about 16 muffins

  • 2 1/4 cups almond meal
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 organic apple, shredded
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon (I added more)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using a fork, mash the banana in a large bowl.
  3. Use a food processor or cheese grater to grate apple or simply chop into very small pieces.
  4. Mix all ingredients in mixing bowl. 
  5. Grease muffin tins, and fill the tins about 3/4 full with muffin batter.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot.

 Enjoy!  Share some birthday love to Sierra in comments. 

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May 22nd, 2011

Shoulder “Prehab” Exercises


Here are four exercises that you can do to help strengthen the stabilizing muscles of the shoulder girdle.  They might seem silly, but they can really be worth your time, especially if you have shoulder pain.  You can do them while you are waiting for class to start or after you work out, several times a week.  On all of these exercises, do not let your shoulders come up toward the ears–try to keep them down and back.

Exercise #1: Row  

This can be done seated or standing, just make sure you are in an athletic stance with your abdominals engaged.  Use a band with handles wrapped around a pole (we have several levels of resistance).  Start by making sure your shoulders are pulled down away from your ears and your posture is upright.  Initiate the movement by pulling your shoulder blades together behind you, keeping your shoulders down.  Then, continue to pull your elbows back, keeping them close to your body.  Release your arms forward and let your shoulder blades relax.  Repeat 15 times.

 Seated Row 1.jpg

This is the middle of the exercise, after Roland has engaged his shoulder blades and has started to pull his elbows back.

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