Fitness
Jun 12th, 2013

A Simple Positional Change for a Better Front Rack

K-Star covering the front rack position

You may have noticed that we’ve been doing a lot of clean-and-jerks lately, and for good reason:  It’s a great exercise for developing power, coordination, and stability through the shoulder girdle.

That being said, if you don’t get a handle on your front rack position (how you hold the bar on the clean, jerk, and front squat), the clean-and-jerk is going to be a nightmare for you and your wrists (even though it’s not wrist flexibility that’s the issue, believe it or not) and you’ll never lift what your legs and hips are capable of doing.

So get on board with positioning your hands wider on the clean and front squat.  And if you’re lacking the mobility to get into the proper position at present, talk to one of the trainers at CFO and get some mobility drills from them.  It’s worth the investment in time.  Your body will thank you.

 

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Jun 11th, 2013

Blocking Movement for Quality Pull-Ups

Another drill from Carl, this time for pull-ups

Next time you’re working on your pull-ups (especially when we’re doing skill work), grab a pair of knee wraps or wrist wraps and trap them between your feet, just like in Carl’s video.  Then see if you can do pull-ups without letting go of the object between your feet.

This drill will tighten up your swing and will allow you to access your hips in the swing a lot better.  It will also force you to stay in a good, strong position without giving away any tension.

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Jun 7th, 2013

Pistol Progressions

Carl going covering Part 1 of his pistol progression series

The pistol can be a confounding movement for many.  Is it a balance thing?  A strength thing?  A mobility thing?  What’s the deal?  Carl does his level best to explain how to know where you’re lacking in your development of the pistol, and what to do about it.  

In Part 1 above, he sets the stage and lays out some basic progressions which help you assess where you are.

In Parts 2, 3, and 4, he builds on Part 1 and details some progressions to get you to the next step, with the goal of eventually doing full pistols.  Check them out and get to work!

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May 31st, 2013

REMINDER: NEW Women’s Strength Class with JoAnn starts June 6th – Only 3 Spots left!

 Squats, Squats, Squats, Squats, Squats = STRONG!!

 Jo Ann Aita has 2 new sessions of the Women’s Strength Class starting Thursday, June 6th.  Classes are held in Max’s Gym and are open to women of all strength levels.  The cost is $180 for the 6-week session, paid up-front.  There are spaces open for Session A ONLY!

BOTH SESSIONS WILL BEGIN THURSDAY, JUNE 6TH AND RUN FOR 6 WEEKS – a total of 12 classes. (Thursday July 4th will be rescheduled to another day).
 
SESSION A [ONLY 3 SPOTS REMAINING!]:  THURSDAYS 5-6:30PM AND SUNDAYS 10-11:30AM, ending Sunday July 14th.  
 
[SESSION B IS ALREADY FULL!!!]
SESSION B:  THURSDAYS 6:30-8PM AND SATURDAYS 9-10:30AM, ending Saturday July 13th
 
Classes are limited to 12 women with a minimum of 8 participants for the class to run. Interested women need to email Jo Ann Aita directly. Spots held for the 1st 12 women to commit. Jo Ann will respond to participants via email regarding payment.
 
If you are unfamiliar with Jo Ann or just want a reminder of how amazing she is, check out her World Record video here.
 
Sign up now and grab a spot before they’re gone!  
 
More about Jo Ann:
 
Jo Ann Aita, currently 42 years of age, has been training and competing in Olympic 
Weightlifting since 2003 . She is a National Medalist and currently holds both Snatch 
and Clean & Jerk Records in the Pacific Weightlifting Association.  Despite starting 
weightlifting at the age of 33, and rehabbing two shoulder surgeries in 2010, she was able 
to come back with PR lifts at the Olympic Trials last year, placing 5 lb weight class, against many competitors half her age!

At the recent Women’s  Pro-Am meet in November 2012, Jo Ann went 9/9 setting a 
New World Record Powerlifting Total in the Raw w/wraps category. She also broke 
the American Raw Deadlift record, which has stood since 1981.  Her lifts at 114 lbs 
bodyweight:

Back Squat: 309 lbs,  Bench Press: 165 lbs, Deadlift: 375 lbs,  Total: 849 lbs

Jo Ann was also a Track & Field and Cross Country athlete for over a decade and 
competed for UCLA.  She is a USA Weightlifting Certified Coach and has been getting 
lifters strong for the past 4 years.  She is a Certified Massage Therapist, specializing 
in Sports Massage and Deep Tissue Work, with a Bay Area Practice for the past 14 
years.  Jo Ann has accomplished all of this while raising a child, managing 3 careers, and 
running a gym!

Jo Ann Aita stats at 114/117lb weight class:

Snatch:  154 lbs
Clean:  194 lbs
Jerk: 185 lb.
Back Squat: 309 lbs
Bench Press: 165 lbs

 

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May 30th, 2013

NEW: CFO Endurance Program w Coach Aaron!

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Did you know that our very own resident running coach, Coach Aaron or Coach Evil as we like to call him, is also a certified CrossFit Endurance coach?  Now that you do, what does that mean for you?  What is means is that we are lucky enough to now offer a formal CrossFit Endurance program to the CFO community! Classes are running NOW, so don’t wait.  Check out Aaron’s write up for more info:

CrossFit Oakland’s Endurance program utilizes CFE protocols with sport-specific strength training and conditioning geared towards improving performance, fitness and endurance sports potential.  Are you a triathlete?  A road racer preparing to run a marathon, ½ marathon, or a 5/10k race this year?  Is your team looking to complete the challenge of Tough Mudder?  Maybe you’re a CrossFitter wanting to improve your running technique and work on your overall endurance?  If you said yes to any of these questions, this is the program for you!

What is CrossFit Endurance?  Traditionally, endurance training has meant adding more time and volume to workouts for one’s body to compete a specific time or distance.  Instead, this program will demand greater attention at the skill and technique level, then we’ll test that technique under stress over a much shorter period of time developing increased stamina and maximum VO2 capacity to compete faster, longer and therefore see greater athletic gains. 

The CFO Endurance program consists of both track and running WODs with a separate strength and conditioning class that focuses on skill based endurance training and mobility.  Participants can buy into any of the available class options that best meets their needs and schedule. 

Three Available CFO Endurance Classes

TUESDAYS 6:00AM – 7:30AM Group Running/Track WOD – The focus is on proper running technique along with a track or running workout designed to maximize an athlete’s endurance and anaerobic threshold.  Location is Piedmont HS, unless otherwise stated.

TUESDAYS 6:30PM – 8:00PM  Group Running/Track WOD – Location is Piedmont HS, unless otherwise stated.

THURSDAYS 7:15PM – 8:30PM  Group Strength Training/Conditioning Class at Uptown – For the athlete looking for more social and supportive interaction with a team training atmosphere. 

Other CFO Endurance Program Options

Private 1:1 Session – Scheduled during open gym hours, when there are no CF classes, or on the weekend.  Ideal for an athlete wanting a more focused one-on-one session with Coach Aaron, or another member of the CFO/Uptown coaching staff.  It’s also for the athlete that may feel intimidated in a class setting environment.  An initial consultation will take place with each new client to determine their sport-specific goals.

10-Day Pass – For the non-committal athlete wanting to test out the CFO Endurance program without purchasing a month-to-month membership.

Fees 

$10 Drop-in fee for each track/running WODs only

$25 Drop-in fee for CFO Endurance strength/conditioning class at Uptown

$35 Unlimited Monthly track/running WODs only

CFO ENDURANCE GROUP CLASS – $150/month (Consists of both Tuesday Track/Running WOD and Thursday Strength/Conditioning Class

CFO ENDURANCE PRIVATE 1:1 – $199/month

CFO ENDURANCE 10-DAY PASS – $199 (Applies to both Track/Running and Strength/Conditioning Classes)

Payments accepted through the current CFO online client system

Active CFO/Uptown members are welcome to attend a Track/Running Class or a  

CFO Endurance Strength/Conditioning class by paying the respective drop-in fee 

Email for more information or to get answers to any questions.

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May 29th, 2013

Regionals Wrap-Up with Coach Arnold

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Team CFO 2013

Congrats to Team CFO for finishing 8th place in the very tough CF Games Regional division of Northern California. We are so proud of you!  Special thanks to Coach Arnold for programming, training and coaching the team over the past couple of months in preparation for Regionals weekend.  

Here is Arnold’s wrap-up:

Team CFO put in a solid performance at the Norcal Regionals. We were ranked 23rd going in and finished the weekend in 8thoverall.

Candace and Brandon set the tone on the first workout, “Pair Jackie.” Each of them had to complete a 1000m Row, 50 Thrusters at 45 pounds and 30 Pullups. Only half the field was able to complete this workout under the time cap. Candace came out blazing and pr’d by 45 seconds, then Brandon took over and finished the workout in 5th place overall. The entire team followed up with a strong 6th place finish in the 3RM Overhead Squat workout. After surviving the Burpee Muscle Up workout with a 17th place finish, Team CFO sat in 6th place after Day 1.

Day 2 of competition started with all six members of Team CFO having to complete 30 wall balls, chest to bar pullups, pistols and dumbell snatches each, in relay style. Everybody held their own and we took 10th overall on that workout. Justin and Tamara ended day 2 with a 9th place finish on the 21-15-9 deadlift and box jump couplet. Team CFO was in 9th overall after two days of competition.

Michelle and Manwell started day 3 with a brutal workout. They had to hold a handstand while the other did handstand pushups, do toes to bar while the other hung from the bar, do shoulder to overheads while the other held the rack position and then lunge down the field with the bar in the front rack. It was a grueling workout to watch, let alone do. Only half the field completed the workout in the 15 minutes allowed. We were one of them, finishing in 14:38 and a 13th place finish.

Team CFO put in a gritty performance on the final event of the weekend. It was a relay style workout that included rope climbs and squat cleans that pushed everyone to their limits. With the clock counting down and the crowd on their feet, we finished the workout as the buzzer sounded. We were 1 of 7 teams to complete the final workout.

It was a great weekend. Everybody left it all out there on every workout and we finished in 8th overall. Thanks to all those who came out to support us.

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May 20th, 2013

NEW Women’s Strength Class w/ Jo Ann starting June 6th!

joannaita.jpg

Jo Ann Aita has 2 new sessions of the Women’s Strength Class starting Thursday, June 6th.  Classes are held in Max’s Gym and are open to women of all strength levels.  The cost is $180 for the 6-week session, paid up-front.  There are spaces open for Session A ONLY!

BOTH SESSIONS WILL BEGIN THURSDAY, JUNE 6TH AND RUN FOR 6 WEEKS – a total of 12 classes. (Thursday July 4th will be rescheduled to another day).

SESSION A:  THURSDAYS 5-6:30PM AND SUNDAYS 10-11:30AM, ending Sunday July 14th.  
 
[SESSION B IS ALREADY FULL!!!]
SESSION B:  THURSDAYS 6:30-8PM AND SATURDAYS 9-10:30AM, ending Saturday July 13th
 
Classes are limited to 12 women with a minimum of 8 participants for the class to run. Interested women need to email Jo Ann Aita directly. Spots held for the 1st 12 women to commit. Jo Ann will respond to participants via email regarding payment.
 
If you are unfamiliar with Jo Ann or just want a reminder of how amazing she is, check out her World Record video here.
 
Sign up now and grab a spot before they’re gone!  
 
More about Jo Ann:
 
Jo Ann Aita, currently 42 years of age, has been training and competing in Olympic 
Weightlifting since 2003 . She is a National Medalist and currently holds both Snatch 
and Clean & Jerk Records in the Pacific Weightlifting Association.  Despite starting 
weightlifting at the age of 33, and rehabbing two shoulder surgeries in 2010, she was able 
to come back with PR lifts at the Olympic Trials last year, placing 5 lb weight class, against many competitors half her age!

At the recent Women’s  Pro-Am meet in November 2012, Jo Ann went 9/9 setting a 
New World Record Powerlifting Total in the Raw w/wraps category. She also broke 
the American Raw Deadlift record, which has stood since 1981.  Her lifts at 114 lbs 
bodyweight:

Back Squat: 309 lbs,  Bench Press: 165 lbs, Deadlift: 375 lbs,  Total: 849 lbs

Jo Ann was also a Track & Field and Cross Country athlete for over a decade and 
competed for UCLA.  She is a USA Weightlifting Certified Coach and has been getting 
lifters strong for the past 4 years.  She is a Certified Massage Therapist, specializing 
in Sports Massage and Deep Tissue Work, with a Bay Area Practice for the past 14 
years.  Jo Ann has accomplished all of this while raising a child, managing 3 careers, and 
running a gym!

Jo Ann Aita stats at 114/117lb weight class:

Snatch:  154 lbs
Clean:  194 lbs
Jerk: 185 lb.
Back Squat: 309 lbs
Bench Press: 165 lbs
Dead Lift: 375 lbs
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Mar 23rd, 2013

Knees in Front of the Toes on the Squat

Reminder: I will be holding a Starting Strength Camp on the low bar back squat tomorrow, Sunday, March 23rd, from 1 PM till 5 PM. I still have a few spots open. Sign ups and additional info can be found at the Aasgaard Company Store.
 

Jo Ann Clean

Jo Ann receiving a clean in a full depth front squat. Note that her knees are in front of her toes and that her shins are inclined. This segment arrangement keeps her from falling backwards and maintains an upright torso, both of which are necessary for a recovery from a clean.

People often suggest that squatting is bad for the knees. I am not, however, going to address that assertion in much detail this evening. Suffice to say that I disagree and I would sincerely enjoy hearing an explanation for how a properly executed, full depth squat is dangerous to knee health. Said explanation should involve a thorough treatment of knee anatomy and a look at the forces encountered by the knee during a squat. Enough about that.

Instead, we’ll take a brief look at where the knee should end up during the squat, particularly with respect to the toes. When I talk about knee position, think about a plumb bob (I like that word) tied to a string hanging off the front of the knee. The position of that plumb bob above the ground is that in which we are interested.

Let’s address a commonly voiced concern – the knees should not be allowed to travel in front of the toes while squatting. Due to varying segment lengths among trainees, the position of the knee will not be the same for everyone. However, for a large majority of lifters, the knee can and probably should travel in front of the toes by the time they are about half way down in the squat. The biggest reason for this is balance. Try this for yourself – squat with as vertical a shin angle as you can. Not very easy is it? You have to lean pretty far forward to counteract the vertical shin, if you can even maintain such a configuration. Allowing the knees to come forward in front of the toes allows a trainee to keep their center of mass, which closely approximates the barbell at heavy weights, over the middle of the foot, which is also the point of balance for human beings.

How far forward the knees travel will be a function of segment lengths and the type of squat being performed.  Low bar back squats have less forward travel than high bar back squats which have less travel than the front squat. Some are concerned that when the knees travel in front of the toes, the patellar ligament will undergo undue strain. Provided that the hamstrings are properly engaged in a strong isometric contraction (ahem… as happens during a low bar squat), the forces along the anterior and posterior aspects of the femur are very nicely balanced. Remember that the patellar ligament inserts on the tibia and the tendons of the hamstrings also insert on the tibia and fibula. Things work out nicely that way.

Allowing the knee enough forward travel in the squat allows a trainee to stay in balance and also provides the quadriceps additional opportunity to aid with standing back up. The eventual position of the knee with respect to the toe will vary from trainee to trainee. A vertical shin is not necessary in a squat and is not possible for most trainees without a very wide stance, or the use of a box to contact at the bottom of the movement.

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Mar 16th, 2013

Upcoming Starting Strength Training Camps

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Connie at one of the first camps I held at the Doyle Street location. Photo courtesy of the lovely and talented Kelly Powers.

I will be holding three Starting Strength Training Camps in the coming five weeks at the CFO Emeryville location. The first one on the low bar back squat occurs next Sunday. For those of you who’d like a longer introduction to the basic strength lifts, these camps are an excellent way to do it. We generally spend about five hours at each camp discussing and then practicing the various lifts in a controlled and unrushed environment. If you are interested, you can sign up through the Aasgaard Company website. The camps are below with links to sign ups and more information for each one:

Low Bar Back Squat – Sunday, March 24 – $135
Deadlift and Power Clean – Sunday, March 31 – $160
Press and Bench Press – Sunday, April 21 – $160

Each of the events start at 1 PM and are limited to eight participants to make sure that attendees get plenty of attention. The squat camp normally wraps up by 5:00 or 5:30 and the camps with two lifts will often go until 6:00 or 6:30 in the evening. I hope to see you there.

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Feb 23rd, 2013

More About Belts

Belt

Back in the fall of 2010, I wrote an article on the use of weightlifting belts. I would encourage those interested in the topic to read it when you get a chance. I won’t repeat the entire article today, but will remind readers of a few points.

The belt is an external aid to lifting weights that increases the rigidity of the torso. It does this by providing the abdominals an external resistance against which they can contract. When combined with a strongly held breath using the Valsalva maneuver, your torso can more efficiently communicate the force generated by the lower body to the bar. The second sentence in this paragraph is important and bears repeating. The primary purpose of the belt is to provide your abdominals something against which they can brace. A belt is not designed to support the back, at least not directly. If a trainee cannot keep their spine from overextending, flexing, or otherwise wiggling around, a belt will not save them. A trainee must be able to lift properly before introducing a belt into the proceedings.

When a trainee first begins lifting, most of their energies are spent on learning the gross motor patterns of the movement. There is plenty to keep track of and any additional variables, such as a belt, serve as a distraction instead of an aid. As training progresses and technique begins to solidify, the musculature is forced to adapt to handle heavier loads. During this time a belt is still probably best left out so that a trainee can learn to effectively engage the trunk musculature and hold the spine in proper extension throughout the movements. If a trainee is just learning the movements, or has not started to handle heavier weights, it is best lift without a belt.

What are heavier weights? That varies based on age and bodyweight, but some generalities can be made. Realize that these numbers are not set in stone. If you are a woman and your work sets on the squat are around 150 pounds, or if you are a man and your work sets are somewhere near 300 pounds, then a belt would not be out of place. These numbers get revised downward the older a trainee is, the lighter they are, or if they have a back injury.

Above I wrote that a belt is not designed to directly support the back, yet I suggested that those who suffered a back injury may want to lift with a belt. A belt doesn’t prop anyone up and it will not substitute for proper form. However, if a trainee can use their abdominals properly in a squat, the belt will amplify their ability to utilize the trunk musculature to keep the spine from moving under a load. The spinal erectors in conjunction with the abdominals keep the train on the tracks. The belt provides an extra layer of support to hold everything in place. If you hurt your back, this is a good thing.

Belts are wonderful. They are a popular and essential piece of gear in the strength training arsenal. They should not be used in the early phases of a trainee’s career because they will primarily get in the way. After getting some experience and strength and once proper form has been established, then a belt can be considered.

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