Dec 18th


By Mike Minium
Comments 11

Coffee Is Your Friend


Coffee Does a Body Good

OK, I admit it, I love coffee and the link to the research paper below is likely nothing more than a desperate attempt to rationalize my coffee habit, but I thought I’d pass it along in case there are other habitual coffee drinkers like me out there.

The study finds that among beverages (including green tea, which seems to be the darling of many health and well-being circles), coffee far and away has the highest total antioxidant capacity (TAC).

A couple of interesting excerpts from the study:

"Among the beverages analyzed, coffee drinks were the most effective, regardless of the assay applied, with espresso having the greatest antioxidant capacity."

"The removal of caffeine from the espresso coffee led to a decrease in TAC values of ~25–30%, likely due to the antioxidant capacity of caffeine."

So drink your coffee and get your antioxidants!

Link to study:

Link to table displaying total antioxidant capacity (TAC) values for the beverages analyzed (the higher the number in the table, the better):

Things That Make You Say Uhhhhh…

Finally, for your reading pleasure, I thought I’d pass along the link below. Those high heels really work the core, I guess.

Dec 17th


By Max Lewin
Comments 4

Ongoing Precognition Contest @ CFO!


Here is a new contest at CrossFit Oakland for your amusement. The rules are simple:

1.Guess the exact WOD which will be posted on the national CrossFit site before it is posted.
B. Post your guess to CrossFit Oakland.
3/3. Guessing "rest day" does not count!

Winners will get a free CrossFit T-shirt!

Hint: the WOD design is not random, and the template can be found in the CrossFit Jounals.

Dec 15th


By Nicole
Comments 6

Holiday Party! Holiday Party! Holiday Party!




SAT AND SUN: WODs at 9 a.m. AND 10 a.m.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON: Our first FREE CrossFit Kids Intro class with Shira the Great and Nicole from 3 p.m. to 4p.m.


Rooster’s Roadhouse
1700 Clement Ave (all the way at end of Clement)
Alameda, California
show starts at 7 P.M.

SUNDAY: F.U.E.L. Seminar 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Dec 14th


By Nicole
Comments 8

But I hate running!


Running. Some of us love it, others hate it, but preferences aside, it is one of the most fundamental functional movements that our bodies are designed for. We highly recommend that you treat running like any other skill that can be refined, trained and improved.

The POSE METHOD OF RUNNING Book was published by Dr. Nicholas Romanov in 2002, and offers a system of training that helps athletes increase performance while avoiding many of the injuries commonly associated with running.

What is the Pose Method?
The essence of the Pose Method is to use gravity as a major propulsive force and let the other forces assist it. The Pose Method’s objective is to redirect gravity’s downward movement into forward motion.

The body starts falling forward at mid-stance when you’re supporting yourself on one leg – this position is called the Running Pose. It creates an ‘S’ shape, which enables you to utilize muscle elasticity.

In order to increase the free-falling effect, only one action should be instigated: breaking contact of the support foot with the ground while falling forward. The easiest way to do this, is to pull the support foot from the ground using the hamstring muscles. In this way, the running technique could be reduced to a very simple sequence: fall forward from the S-shaped Pose position until you lose support, then swap support to the other foot to begin falling again by utilizing the hamstrings. It’s simply Pose-Fall-Pull.

The distinguishing characteristic of Pose running is that the athlete lands on the mid-foot, with the supporting joints flexed at impact, and then uses the hamstring muscles to withdraw the foot from the ground. This is the opposite of the heel-strike method that most of us use.

Next time "Michael" or "Nicole" is kicking your a** give the simple pose-fall-pull a try and you’ll notice a greater ease of motion along with a new awareness of your calves!

Learn to Pose:

Quickie version for beginners:
CrossFit discussion of Pose Method:

How does the Pose Method help prevent injuries?

Helpful video analysis of runners:

Dec 13th


By Max Lewin
Comments 6

Start With Good Form–The Rest Will Follow (Part 2)

Some of you may remember a recent post on form where we talked about the importance of focusing first on mechanics, then on consistency, and finally on intensity. Put simply we recommend learning, for example, how to do one good double-under, then string them together, and finally to go for broke and get a maximum number of reps before failure. As any of you know who have tried this, if you give it everything you have, your form simply cannot be the same on the first rep as on the last rep, and herein lies the paradoxical nature of reaching for higher and higher performance.

Coach Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, expounds on this seeming paradox in two posts from the past week on The first post is called “Virtuosity” and contains the above philosophy on mechanics, consistency and intensity.

You can find the article here: VIRTUOSITY

The second post is from the Comments section of the 061210 entry and is reproduced here so you don’t have to go searching for it. It concerns the inevitability, nay necessity, of form breakdown in the pursuit of increased performance.

If safety is your sole or even your primary concern, your athletes’ fitness potential will be soundly blunted. Where fitness is your sole concern, safety must be given reasonable priority. Safety, efficacy, and efficiency are clearly, mathematically, interdependent. It would be foolish to think otherwise.

Olympic lifts “Highly technical”? Rubbish. Only compared to the rest of weight training. There are thousands of gymnastics movements fantastically more technical than the clean and jerk and the snatch. In any case, CrossFit, with high rep weightlifting, has been shown in clinical and institutional settings to be dramatically safer than the traditional run, sit-up, pull-up, jumping jack, push-up, lather, rinse, repeat, PT. This is not due to the “highly technical” nature of jumping jacks and running.

Not practicing complex movements fatigued? More rubbish. Only by practicing them fatigued will we advance the point where fatigue adversely affects form. Learning to race cars at high speed increases the likelihood of crashing. It is not the crashing that improves the driver’s skill, however, but transiently increasing the likelihood of crashing is an essential part of decreasing the likelihood of crashing at any given speed.

Not all form faults are dangerous. Most clearly are not. Most increase the metabolic costs of an exercise or workout, i.e. reduce efficiency, and are not only acceptable but beneficial to conditioning. But what is certain is that only by working to exhaustion, where form faults are ineluctable, will we push the margins of power output where form falters. We push to the point of exhaustion and form breakdown to 1) increase/improve the safety of high output max efforts, and 2) maximize work capacity. How simple is that?

Show me a program where form is controlled to the point of never failing and I’ll show you an athlete who a) will fall apart at output levels where CrossFitters are untaxed and moving with grace, and b) cannot match the work capacity of CrossFitters.

The ideal state for learning new activities is certainly when the athlete is fresh. This should not be confused with advancing the horizon line where form is maintainable under duress.

Mr. Boyle was able to quantify his concerns for the dangers of high rep weightlifting – anything approaching twelve reps. As reported to me, this wasn’t load qualified, but rep qualified.

If taking your one 1RM for the C&J and attempting 20 reps is an example of dangerous high rep weightlifting then it’s dangerous like trying to jump up and touch the sun, and I haven’t met anyone stupid enough to try or even think it possible. Calling 100 clean and jerks with a twenty pound medicine ball for time dangerous makes even less sense, and this effort qualifies by Mr. Boyle’s statement. It is also consistent with CrossFit programming. (Hmmm?)

At the SOCOM Conference Mr. Twight (Yes, Mark) appeared with his arm in a sling due to a recent surgical repair of a climbing injury. To great derision and laughter, his condition was attributed to high rep weightlifting. That cheap shot holds the crux of Mr. Boyle’s logic and reveals what really motivated his and other presenters’ gripes about CrossFit – we’re eating their lunch in the marketplace of ideas.

Sadly this has nothing to do with safety, efficacy, and efficiency and everything to do with falling in a very distant second place, or more likely even further, in the quest for improving human performance. Mr. Boyle’s problem with CrossFit is that his program got left behind. Think tipped over rice bowls, not dangerous lifts.

Where CrossFit has been analyzed, injuries have been recorded, the analysis has had to bear the investigators’ names, and the results made public, CrossFit has been shown to be safer than traditional PT.

The assemblage of presenters at the SOCOM conference is like a conference on retailing where Penny’s, Sears, and K-Mart are presenting on WalMart. You bet they think it’s dangerous.

We’ll hear every bit of noise imaginable from Mr. Boyle, but here’s what you’ll not ever see: Him posting his athletes’ work capacity across broad time and modal domains like we do here three days out of four. That would truly be dangerous.

Comment #41 – Posted by Coach at December 10, 2006 01:54 AM

So: focus on form and intensity. You cannot have both all the time, but playing with the interstice will yield amazing results.

There are few better examples of this paradox in action than the “Nasty Girls” video which You can download in full-screen video (177MB) HERE. Scroll down, it’s on the right side. Abbreviated low-res version below. Warning: humbling.

Dec 13th


By Mike Minium
Comments 7

Analysis of a Clean, Part 2


(Note: I pulled these photos from Coach Mike Burgener’s website. Familiarize yourself with this site; it’s a must-read for anyone with even a passing interest in Olympic weightlifting.)

In Analysis of a Clean, Part 1, we took an in-depth look at Nicole’s clean.

The take-home points of that discussion were as follows:

1. The clean (and snatch, for that matter) is all about getting the bar to travel in as vertical a path as possible (for the most part).
2. Strive to get full, powerful hip extension so that there’s no horizontal displacement of the bar (i.e., don’t let the bar move away from you).
3. Don’t try and pull the bar up high with your arms, pull yourself under the bar.

I selected the three pictures above because they’re beautiful illustrations of the correct positions an athlete wants to be in at critical stages of the clean.

In the first photo, the lifter has just completed the first pull from the floor and the bar has just passed his knees. What’s interesting about this part of the clean is that it’s virtually indistinguishable from a deadlift at the same spot. The mechanics of the two are very similar up to that point.

In the second photo, the lifter has just completed the scoop, which is the move where the lifter’s upper torso becomes vertical (or nearly so) while keeping the hip flexed (the athlete is primed to launch himself explosively upward), and which is where the clean and deadlift decide to part company. The scoop is necessary for the clean, but not for the deadlift, because the objective of the clean is to drive the bar upward with such vertical force that it remains weightless for a split-second, allowing the lifter to dive under the bar and catch it in a deep front squat. The objective of the deadlift is far less loftier (poor pun intended). The bar only needs to be raised to a position slightly below the athlete’s hip in a deadlift.

The third photo shows what happens to the bar after the lifter violently extends his hip and sends the bar skyward (skyward being a relative term here) with everything he has. This point in time marks the end of one phase of the clean (the phase involving the pulling of the bar) and the beginning of another phase of the clean (the phase involving the athlete pulling himself under the bar). At this point, it’s simply a race between the bar and the athlete to the ground. The first one to get there wins (I’m oversimplifying a tad).

One final observation about the photos: Check out how close to his body the bar stays in all three of the photos. This is critical!

Well, enough writing about the clean.

Let’s watch it in action now. In the link below, Pyrros Dimas cleans and jerks 469 lbs at a bodyweight of 187 lbs. That’s just sick!

(And please take note of his narrow, feet-under-hips stance in the push jerk–hint, hint, hint to all of you with your precious wide stances out there!)

Dec 12th


By Mike Minium
Comments 12

Push Presses in the Wee Hours of the Morning

Hey…KOOL-AID! Coach is smoking the CFO crack on!


Aminta showing the “arms by ears” finish position of a push press.

Hand, shoulder, mid-hip, and mid-foot (base of support) all form a straight line at the finish position when pressing something overhead.

The one slight correction Aminta needs to make is to have the center of her hip just a tad back, so that it’s directly over her base of support.

Nice work, Aminta!

Random Findings

I like to wander the Internet and read about all things fitness-, health-, and performance-related. A lot. Way too much, in fact.

Anyway, here are a couple of great links I came across today:

1. Here’s video of some women competing in the recent American Open Weightlifting Championships:

The first clip from this video is neat. It shows just how little the bar actually drops from its apex in the snatch (using a line that traces the path of the bar). You needn’t pull the bar up high–you need to pull yourself under!

My favorite clip is at 3:37. It shows one of the competitors doing a snatch from the profile view. Watch how little the bar drops and how quickly (and smoothly) she gets under it. Beautiful stuff.

(As a side note, the woman in the video at 3:37 makes a slight technical error. Can you spot it? If so, post to Comments.)

For those of you who were practicing snatches this weekend, check it out!

I found the link to this video on the Performance Menu’s wonderful discussion forum.

2. To justify watching the video I just discussed, check out this neat little bit of science:

Basically, scientists have found that the human brain (specifically, the mirror neurons of the brain) fires in the same way when performing a physical movement as when viewing someone else perform the same movement. The caveat is that you have to be skilled in that movement (i.e., you have to have trained that movement pattern).

So practice the Olympic lifts and watch others as well.

Additional reading on this topic:

I found out about this study on another CrossFit Affiliate website, Again Faster.

Happy reading and happy training!

Dec 11th


By Max Lewin
Comments 10

Hey… Kool-Aid!


Today’s Poll:

Have you drunk the Kool-Aid?
A: Yes!
B: No.
C: Huh?

Post answers to comments.

Graphic by CFO athlete-architects Ann Kelly and Jonathan Heuer.

Dec 10th


By Nicole
Comments 1

CrossFit Kids!!!! Start em’ Young…


All kids 5-12 years old are invited for a FREE introduction.

Saturday, December 16th, 3 to 4

3300 Broadway (near Piedmont Ave)


For more information:

Dec 8th


By Mike Minium
Comments 11

Analysis of a Clean, Part 1

Grab a cup of coffee ’cause this is a long one! If nothing else, perhaps I’ll aid in your getting a good night’s sleep.

We captured this video of Nicole performing hang squat cleans earlier this morning.

Nicole has come a long way with her cleans. This is really good stuff. When Nicole first came to us, she was strictly an arm puller, lacking the ability to pull herself under the bar (the skill that separates decent lifters from great lifters).

The first thing that you want to take a note of in Nicole’s clean is the lines formed by the relationship between her body, the bar, and the floor.

Most of the lifting we do comes down to simple geometry (with a dash of physics thrown in). The cleaner the lines, the more force one can generate. So what’s the proper line for a clean? Vertical! You want as much force as possible being directed upward. This allows you to create momentum and acceleration on the bar (thanks, Coach B, for adding “momentum and acceleration” to the CrossFit vernacular), allowing the bar to remain weightless for a split second–just long enough for you to pull yourself under it with everything you have and land in a rock-bottom front squat.

Having said that, there’s room for improvement with Nicole’s clean, as the frame-by-frame sequence (43 frames in total) below demonstrates.