Monthly Archives: December 2011
Dec 31st, 2011

Captain Kirk

El Capitan

Captain Kirk preparing to squat 1,000 pounds. This video cannot be embedded, but clicking on the image above will take you to YouTube to watch it. I promise it will be worth your time.

Above is one of my favorite squatting videos, although, to be honest, my list of favorite videos seems to be continually expanding. The video features the legendary Kirk Karwoski, known as Captain Kirk. Karwoski is among the greatest powerlifters in the history of the sport. His accomplishments include a world record 455 kg (1,003 lb) squat set in competition in 1995. Karwoski competed in the 125 kg (275 lb) weight class of the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) and his record, set over 15 years ago, still stands.  He also won seven national and six international championships at the IPF.

Kirk was known not only for his incredible accomplishments on the platform, but also for his outsized personality. He trained with extraordinary intensity and focus and was widely regarded as being all but insane. Ed Coan, who is arguably the greatest  powerlifter of all time, was asked in an interview, "What is the craziest thing you have seen in powerlifting?" He replied, "Kirk Karwoski." Karwoksi gave an interview a few years ago and had this to say:

I would like to comment on motivation. Most power lifters share some common defects, as a whole, for whatever reason, we LOVE to punish, beat, and torture ourselves beyond the limits of mind and body. It is our spirit that prevails. This defect of intelligence and sensibility pushes us on to the next level, makes us better and stronger. We all have lifted sick and badly hurt. When this subject comes up with normal people and other meatheads, we all have the prideful smile when we talk about lifting with a 100 degree temperature or a torn groin. Thank God that therapy doesn’t work on us.

Before we sign off for the evening, let’s discuss the video above. In it, we see Karwoski squat 1,000 pounds for a double. This truly astounding feat of strength was accomplished using a single ply squat suit, a set of knee wraps, and a belt. If talk of single-ply squat suits does not ring a bell, I discuss the particulars of equipped vs. non-equipped lifting in an earlier post. An important point to note is that suits available to Karwoski in the early 90s provided considerably less assistance than do the suits available now.

Kirk unracks the 1,000 pound barbell and walks it out of the squat stands. A very common sight in powerlifting today is a device called a monolift. This is type of squat stand that allows the lifter to unrack the bar while the supports are swung out of the way and the lifter can stay in place to begin the squat without ever moving their feet. Walking the bar out is a difficult thing and I think it is cool.

Karwoski squats the both reps deeply, with the first one coming up very quickly. I don’t know how you can stand up that fast with 1,000 pounds on your back, but he managed to do it. The second rep comes up a little more slowly, but was never in doubt. All of the onlookers in the gym are yelling loudly, but when his spotters want to rack the weight before Karwoski does, he screams, "I want to hold it!" The room quiets down while his cowed spotters back away until Kirk is ready for the set to be finished. It’s a pretty funny moment and helps to illuminate Karwoski’s ferocious approach to lifting. The man was intense.

Have a great 2012.

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Dec 30th, 2011

3 More From K-Star Plus the New Year’s Weekend Schedule

K-Star doing his thing

The shoulder joint is something we have to take care of, when it comes to utilizing exercise technique that will place the shoulder in the best possible position and when it comes to mobilizing the tissue around the shoulder joint itself.

In the video above, K-Star goes over a shoulder trifecta, three exercises that pay big dividends, especially if you have issues with the front squat or clean rack position, or with any of the bodyweight movements that involve turning out (push-ups or ring dips, for example).  

Take the five minutes to watch this, and then put these three mobility exercises into practice!

New Year’s Weekend Schedule

Here’s the schedule for the weekend.

Sat 12/31:  8am, 9:30am, and 11am (extended class times for Murph)
Sun 1/1:  Closed
Mon 1/2:  8am, 9am, and 10am

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Dec 29th, 2011

FREE Community Day + Stretching Class: Jan 2nd, 2012!


Who are these lovely inverted ladies?

Curious about CrossFit?  Want to test it out and see if it’s for you?  Come on in on Monday, January 2nd at 11am for a free, fun and fabulous workout! 

Community Days are free to the public – No experience necessary. This one-hour class is designed to be fun and scalable to all ages and fitness levels. It includes a warm-up, instruction of basic movements, a great workout utilizing these movements and a cool-down.

Bring your friends, family and co-workers for the 11:00 team-style WOD and stay for Coach Dawn’s stretching class at Noon.  Great way to kick off the New Year.

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Dec 28th, 2011

Gymnastics Seminar Fast Approaching!


We’re just a little over a week from our gymnastics skills seminar with Carl Paoli, of San Francisco CrossFit and Naka Athletics. If you’re after a muscle-up, a handstand push-up, a legit push-up or pull-up, or any higher-level gymnastics/bodyweight movement, this is the seminar for you. Carl will provide a ton of technical instruction on these movements and map out progressions for any movement you’re after.

I’ve seen Carl coach a few times and highly recommend taking advantage of this opportunity to spend 4 hours training with him.

This seminar is open to the general public, not just CFO.  Don’t miss this awesome opportunity!

To learn more about Carl and his work, and to register for seminar, go here:

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Dec 27th, 2011

Monthly Benchmarks Beginning in January


AJ & Julie at the holiday party

In an effort to create a tighter feedback loop for your performance in the gym, beginning in January, we’ll be designating a strength benchmark and a conditioning benchmark that will be tested at the beginning of the month and then again at the end of the month.  The benchmarks will change each month, but it will always be a pair:  one strength movement and one conditioning workout.

For January, the benchmarks will be as follows:


Back Squat 5-Rep Max

Conditioning Workout:

Max Rounds Plus Reps in 10 Minutes:
7 Pull-Ups
10 Hand-Release Push-Ups

These two workouts will be programmed into our normal workout cycle; no need for you to do them during rest days.

The benchmarks will give you a clearer idea of how you’re progressing and will give us a quick assessment of whether our programming is hitting the mark.  In other words, it’s a win-win for all parties involved.

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Dec 25th, 2011

Happy Christmakkah!



Happy Holidays from CFO to all of you!  The gym will be closed today, but will re-open tomorrow (12/26) for 8am, 9am & 10am classes.

Enjoy your day with friends and family!

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Dec 24th, 2011

Want a Bigger Clean? Talk to Me about Your Deadlift.

Ellie Deadlift

Ellie finishing a deadlift. Pictures from the CrossFit Total earlier this month will be available…in the near future.

The Olympic lifts represent an interesting confluence of strength, power, and technique. The two contested Olympic lifts include the snatch and the clean and jerk. Both of these movements involve explosively moving the barbell overhead either in one movement (the snatch), or two separate components (the clean and jerk).  Learning these lifts can take some time due to the complexity of the motor patterns required to jump with a barbell and to receive that barbell in a very specific position.

Initially the lifts will be limited by technique. The weights used will be light and the emphasis placed on moving the bar correctly and moving the body correctly. After a time, however, the fundamentals are established and the weights begin to climb. The more familiar a trainee becomes with the movements, the more confidence grows, and the more performance increases. Of course, this does not continue forever. Eventually other factors begin to limit increases. This is a mirror of the process for almost anything worth doing. Initially, performance is low, followed by a rapid period of improvement, then increases become harder to attain.

Today we’ll look at a big component of the Olympic lifts – power. Some terms need to be defined first. Strength is the ability to generate force against an external resistance. Power is the ability to display strength quickly. A deadlift requires strength, but not speed, and is not a lift requiring great power. A snatch, however, requires the barbell to move quickly and, at the heaviest weights, the lifter to move very quickly under the bar. Power production must be high in order to successfully complete a snatch. This simplification does not illustrate the relationship between strength and power very well, unfortunately. The next simplification does.

You cannot be powerful without first being strong.

We will look at two hypothetical trainees. The first can deadlift 225 pounds for a set of five. The second can deadlift 405 pounds for a set of five. The task before each of our lifters is a 200 pound clean. When the barbell first breaks from the ground, for whom will it feel lighter? Which trainee will feel more confident as the barbell clears the knee and the bar touches the thigh, indicating the need to violently accelerate the bar upwards? Who will have a better chance of successfully completing the lift? Obviously, a 405 pound deadlift confers a big advantage when it comes time to clean 200 pounds. Even if the stronger lifter is less explosive and less athletically gifted, those 200 pounds do not represent a heavy load. Even in the absence of good technique, the stronger lifter is still at an advantage. When it comes time to throw a barbell around, things will be much better if the weight feels light in the hands.

There are a lot of components to getting good at Olympic weightlifting. Being strong does not guarantee that you will have a bright future in the sport. However, not being strong guarantees that you will not progress very far with the fast lifts. If your Olymipc lifts are stalled and your technique is solid, the next questions to ask are, "Is my squat improving? How about my deadlift?" If the answers to those questions are not affirmative, then the path to a better clean just became a lot clearer.

Strength Saturday Schedule

As previously mentioned, Strength Saturday is on a Holiday Hiatus. I like alliteration.  There will be no Saturday class on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, or January 7th. The strength class will return on Sunday, January 15th before resuming its familiar Saturday slot in the subsequent weeks.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

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Dec 22nd, 2011

Boot Camp Early Bird Special 15% off!


The beauty of a healthy lifestyle (and friendship!)

The very first session of CrossFit Oakland’s Strength & Conditioning Boot Camp starts Tuesday January 3rd, 2012 and goes for 6 weeks (Tuesdays/Thursdays at 9am). Plenty of time to get in great shape.  No experience necessary.  You do not need to be in shape to get in shape.  We will get you there!  More information from Coach Arnold:

The strength component of this class is driven by two basic barbell lifts, the backsquat and deadlift.  These two lifts will allow students to move the most weight and gain the most strength.  You will receive one on one coaching on proper technique and form while spending plenty of time under the bar.  Whether you are new to barbell training or stalling in your strength gains, six weeks of dialing in your form will bring your numbers up across the board.

The squat and deadlift will take care of your lower body.  To improve upper body strength, this class will focus on 3 basic gymnastics movements, the pullup, pushup and dip.  Never tried a pullup?  Tried and failed?  Have a few but want more?  The pullup is an integral part of building overall strength and these six weeks will get you well on your way to mastering this movement.

If that isn’t enough to inspire you to sign up, we are offering an Early Bird Special of 15% (that’s $30 off!) until December 25th, 2011.  You can sign up through the CFO Online Store.  Space is limited so hurry and get in on this great opportunity to change your body – and maybe even your life.

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Dec 21st, 2011

Bunches of Articles


Aisha, Lee, and Michele at the holiday party, courtesy of TomC

Here’s some reading for you.


Charles Poliquin Doesn’t Like Aerobic Training

For regular readers of Charles Poliquin, you probably know he’s not a big fan of aerobic training, especially if it’s done exclusively and not offset with strength training.

In these three articles (be warned, a couple of them are lengthy by blog article standards), he lays out his case for why he finds aerobic training counterproductive for general health and/or body composition, and discusses what to do about it.

The (Many) Negatives of Aerobic Training
How to Counter The Many Negatives of Aerobic Training

Belly Fat? Lose It.

To Rx a Workout or Not

Here’s a fairly humorous–and accurate–take on rx’ing workouts (doing them as prescribed).  Be warned, if you’re offended by potty-mouthed language, you’ll probably want to skip this article.

And props to the Beastmodal Domains guy for coining a soon-to-be classic CF term:  Rip Van Wodkilla (for those CFers who decide to rx a workout and take days to finish it)

Intensity in CrossFit: Should You Do It RX’d?

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Dec 20th, 2011

Sac-Town Throwdown Feb 11-12



I wanted to give everyone a heads-up on a great CF competition that’s coming up in early February, the Sac-Town Throwdown.  This is a 2-man/2-woman team event, and teams can compete in any of the following three divisions:

  • Open (anyone)
  • Novice (for those who scale most workouts)
  • Masters (anyone 40 years or older)

Our very own TomC has photographed this event in the past, and he’s had nothing but good things to say about it.

I know that we already have some people who will register for the Open division.  What would be great is if we can get some Novice and Masters teams to compete with them.  

If you’re interested in competing, send us an email so that we can put you on a team.

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