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Workout Of The Day

The Workout of the Day or WOD is custom-programmed for the CrossFit Oakland community and is taught in our regular group classes under the close supervision of our highly trained coaching staff.

Dec 17th, 2011

Your Ribcage Should Not Be Used as a Trampoline

Mini Bench Press

Mini doesn’t bounce his bench presses and neither should you.

There are lots of ways to make a bench press easier. One commonly used tactic is to aggressively bounce the bar off the sternum and to use the elasticity of the ribcage to drive the bar upwards from the bottom of the lift. Much like bouncing a deadlift off the ground, this is a bad habit that interferes with strength development, erodes morality, and contributes to crop failures.

The bottom of the bench press is a mechanically disadvantageous position. The bar lies across the chest while the pectorals and triceps are stretched, the elbows are flexed, the shoulders are in transverse extension, and the bar is no longer directly over the shoulder joints. Pushing the weight back up is hard work, but can be made easier by allowing the bar to accelerate right before the bottom and using the rebound off the chest, not unlike a trampoline.

Bouncing the bar off the ribcage prevents strength from being developed in the first portion of this range of motion.  Because the ascent of the barbell is no longer completely driven by muscular contraction, it also allows you to handle more weight. If we are bench pressing to become stronger, this presents a conflict. More weight is not synonymous with greater strength in this case. The muscles are not required to produce more force. Instead of getting stronger, we changed the movement. A direct comparison between a strict and bounced bench press can no longer be made. Further, if the weight is heavy enough, it can be injurious. Dropping 315 pounds on to the sternum can leave a nice bruise, or maybe even something a little more painful.

There is no need to pause at the bottom of the bench press, unless you are training for a powerlifting competition, where a pause may be required as part of the rules. You only need to touch the chest while under control and drive the bar back up immediately. Resisting the temptation to bounce the bar off the sternum will help to make you stronger and will allow you to stay in a tighter, more stable configuration while lifting. All of this will be better for your ribcage and your bench press, not to mention your character.

Strength Saturday Schedule Update

This Saturday, December 17, we have a double shot of afternoon strength classes. The first will go from 1:00 to 3:30 PM. The second class will go from 4:00 to 6:30 PM. Both classes are full this week. After this weekend, Strength Saturday will go on a three-week hiatus. There will be no class on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, or January 7th. Classes will resume on the second weekend in January. We’ll see you in 2012. Thanks to everyone that made this year’s classes a success.

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Dec 16th, 2011

Minding Your Mitochondria

Dr. Terry Wahls’s TED Talk, "Minding Your Mitochondria"

If this TED talk by Dr. Terry Wahls doesn’t make you want to eat some meat and vegetables, and lots of them, I don’t know what else will.  This video is well worth 18 minutes of your time.  She has a great personal story to tell, and it’s interspersed with a little bit of science, too.

Watch the video!

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Dec 15th, 2011

December Rest Day Challenge!

Connie OHS.jpg

Beautiful squat, Connie!

December’s Rest Day Challenge is…. Max Repetitions of Body Weight Back Squats!!!

This is how we do it:

1.  Weigh yourself on the CFO scale.  Ask your coach if you need help with our scale – it can be temperamental.  Warm up properly, load up your bar and get to it.

2.  Once the bar is on your back, it must stay there for the duration of your set.  When you drop the bar or put it back in the rack, your max-reps set is over.

3.  Established Squat Standards apply:  Full range of motion from full-upright position at the top to hip-crease-below-knee-cap at the bottom.  Make sure a CFO coach is watching and validates your performance, so it can be considered for our Leader Board.

4.  You have until December 31st to establish your maximum number of repetitions. 

Have fun!

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Dec 14th, 2011

Cooked Food Provides More Energy


I get more calories from cooking my chicken than eating it raw

I guess there are some food-related things that haven’t actually been tested in a lab yet, surprisingly enough.

In this article from Discover Magazine, succinctly titled, "Why Calorie Counts Are Wrong: Cooked Food Provides a Lot More Energy," the author, who is himself an anthropologist, lays out a theory, and a possible explanation, for why cooked food contains more calories, even when compared to the same amount of food in a raw state.  

He believes it has to do with the cooking process itself, and how it allows certain components of food to be made available for digestion (e.g., cooking breaks down collagen in beef, making it easier to chew and get to the muscle of the meat).  And he estimates that cooking provides between 25% and 50% more calories than the same food in its raw state.  That’s a big difference.

Apparently, this type of testing hasn’t been done yet, so it will be interesting to see if his estimates hold up.  In the meantime, if you’re trying to put on a little more muscle, cook that meat and those vegetables!

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Dec 13th, 2011

Gymnastics Seminar with Carl Paoli January 7th!


We’re just about a month away 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, 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.

Register for his seminar here:

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Dec 12th, 2011

CrossFit Total 2011 is a Done Deal


CFTing CFOers

Thanks to all of you who came out and did the CrossFit Total today…what a great time!

And thanks to TomC for the great photo work (including the one above).

Many of you hit PRs in at least one of the lifts (if not all three), which isn’t surprising when you have thirty other people yelling support and cheering you on.  It’s always so inspiring to see all of the hard work you guys put in to your training pay off on CFT day.

Let’s do it again next year!

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Dec 11th, 2011

CrossFit Total Groups



Below are the groups for the CrossFit Total, which begins at 2pm sharp tomorrow, Sunday, December 11.

The doors to CFO will open at 1pm, so you’ll have an hour to warm up and prepare for your lifts.  We’ll brief you on the whole process, the order of the lifts, etc. at 1:45pm.

We’ve grouped you according to your opening squat numbers, with a few adjustments here and there.  The groups may shift around a bit when we transition from squat to press and from press to deadlift, but for the most part, we’ll try and keep these groups intact.

The full group list is attached below in a PDF, and it includes the opening numbers for everyone in all three lifts (please check it to make sure it’s accurate).  In the meantime, here’s a list of each of the groups:

Group 1:  Morgan, Julie, Michele B, Amanda, and Sierra

Group 2:  Sara M, Connie, Ellie, Aisha, and Ev

Group 3:  Eric W, Mune, Sean H, Greg H, Chris M, and Michelle M

Group 4:  Aaron C, Stowe, Jason W, Trevor, John P, Jacques, and Raymond

Group 5:  Jeff S, Lance, Dan H, Jon Y, Josh O, Julian Z, and Armando

We’ll explain how the groups will function in full detail tomorrow, but in brief, just because you’re in the last group, it doesn’t mean you’ll be going last.  The groups are just a method for organizing the way the barbells will be loaded, so that there won’t be too many switches of weights from one lifter to another.  One person will go from Group 1, then one person from Group 2, then one from Group 3, etc. until we rotate through everyone’s squat.

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Dec 10th, 2011

Can You Lift Like a Girl?

Cristi Bartlett pulling an easy 485 off the ground

Pennsylvania is a great state indeed. As evidence for this, I submit Ms. Cristi Bartlett and her 485 pound deadlift. As with Tracy Zimmer, who I highlighted a few weeks back, Bartlett trains and works alongside the widely-respected James Steel at the University of Pennsylvania. She is unreasonably strong and watching her in the video above makes me want to pick up something heavy. I suspect you will have the same reaction. Ms. Bartlett was a collegiate basketball player and stands 6 feet tall. However, here is my favorite part she weighs 190 pounds. Let’s meditate on that for a moment. A 6-foot tall, 190 pound woman pulls 485 for what looks to be a pretty easy single. A 485 pound deadlift is a very respectable pull for a 190 pound man (a little better than 2.5 times bodyweight). For a woman, it lies firmly in the "You Are Kidding Me, Right?" category.

But wait, there is more. I would hate to be accused of missing an opportunity to advocate for muscular bodyweight gain and Cristi Bartlett provides a very nice object lesson. Are you a 6-foot tall male? Do you weigh less than 190? How’s your deadlift? Are you a woman who is resistant to the idea of putting on weight to drive strength gains? Consider Ms. Bartlett’s example. She is 190 pounds of awesome. Maybe it is time to eat a little more. Depending on who you are, maybe it is time to eat a lot more. Don’t forget to lift heavy, too. There are few problems that cannot be made better by getting bigger and stronger.

A Few Announcements

For those of you who participated in the silent auction at last night’s Holiday Party, you can find out if you won by looking at the bottom of yesterday’s post. Thank you to Mike and especially to Robyn who spent the evening making sure that everything went smoothly.

Thanks to the CrossFit Total on Sunday, I have two spots open for this week’s Strength Saturday class. If you are interested, drop me a line  The class goes from 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM. Also, I will be holding a special double shot of Strength Saturday next week, December 17th. The first session will go from 1:00 to 3:30 PM. I have two slots remaining for that first session. The normal 4:00 to 6:30 class is full. Once again, if you are interested, send me an email at the address above. The cost for the class is $25. There will be no Strength Saturday class on Christmas Eve.

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Dec 9th, 2011

Thanks, Everyone!

*** Update:  See below for information on the winning bidder numbers for all of the auction items. ***




Thanks to all of you who came to the holiday party tonight and made it a wonderful time!  We’ll post the winners of the various items from the silent auction tomorrow, so stay tuned to the blog.  Happy Holidays!

Auction Winners

Thanks to all of you who participated in the silent auction last night.  All of the proceeds are going to Brad as he begins the long road toward recovery.

In no particular order, here are the winning bidder numbers for each auction item.  If you won an auction item(s), contact us so that we can get your item(s) to you.

Handmade, Custom Journal

Winning Bidder Number:  233

Title 9 Goodie Bag

Winning Bidder Number:  100

Lululemon Bag

Winning Bidder Number:  120

Pixar Collectibles

Winning Bidder Number:  51

Math Tutoring

Winning Bidder Number:  165

4 Training Sessions w/ Mini

Winning Bidder Number:  200

Cooking Class w/ Connie

Winning Bidder Number:  165

Oakland Raiders vs. Detroit Lions, 2 Tickets

Winning Bidder Number:  108

San Jose Sharks vs. Chicago Blackhawks, 2 Tickets

Winning Bidder Number:  146

Custom Pull-Up Bar

Winning Bidder Number:  233

1-Hour Session with Psychic Jessica Lanyadoo

Winning Bidder Number:  123

Prather Ranch Gift Card

Winning Bidder Number:  114

Custom Art Piece by Annie Vought

Winning Bidder Number:  114

1-Hour Tattoo Session w/ Dustin Wengreen

Winning Bidder Number:  103

Sauce Cups (5)

Winning Bidder Number:  174

Small Bowls (5)

Winning Bidder Number:  174

Large Bowls (2)

Winning Bidder Number:  174

Coffee Filter & 2 Coffee Mugs

Winning Bidder Number:  233

Custom Print, 1 Sheep

Winning Bidder Number:  233

Custom Print, Herd of Sheep

Winning Bidder Number:  233



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Dec 8th, 2011

Holiday Party Tomorrow Night @ 6:30pm!

 *** Gym closes after the Noon class tomorrow!  No Open Gym or evening classes ***


Remember to stop by the CFO Holiday Party tomorrow at the Highland Country Club.  Click here for a map & directions.  Bring your checkbooks for the silent auction and dress in your festive best.

Food and drinks provided, but feel free to bring a yummy Holiday treat to share if you like.  Families and significant others are most welcome.

See you there!

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