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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.

Nov 13th, 2011

More on Plantar Faciitis and the Soleus

calf anatomy.jpg

Last week I wrote about ways to treat plantar faciitis, but I happened to leave out the most common remedy for this ailment–rest.  I have rarely seen a crossfitter rest, even with a terrible injury.  Rest is one of the best ways to help the pain from plantar faciitis, but it is really hard to do–it means staying off of your feet as much as you can.  Because rest is out of the question for most of you, this week I would like to talk a little more about the relationship of the calves to the bottom of the feet and how to take care of them.  

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Nov 12th, 2011

A Reason to Work Harder

Tracy Zimmer of The University of Pennsylvania making mere mortals feel inadequate

YouTube causes me no small amount of consternation because I am only a few seconds away from finding something like the video above. I’d like to introduce you to Tracy Zimmer, Assistant Strength Coach at The University of Pennsylvania. It is not an exaggeration to suggest that Tracy is really, really strong. She is coached by James Steel, the Head Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for Penn who can be heard providing encouragement off camera. Steel is very highly regarded strength coach who, not surprisingly, sees the squat as an important component in any well constructed program. He is a competitive powerlifter himself, who happens to hold three records in the American Powerlifting Association of New Jersey. 

However, let’s return to Ms. Zimmer who weighs approximately 150 pounds. In the video above, she squats 325 pounds for 14 repetitions. For those of you who had the privilege of holding 325 pounds on your back, you can fully appreciate what is happening in the video. Zimmer squats 2.17 times her bodyweight for repetition after repetition wearing just a belt and some knee sleeves. A twice bodyweight squat is an impressive feat of strength for just about any athlete and that is just for one repetition. For a woman to accomplish that 14 times is, well, pretty damn amazing.

The news out of Pennsylvania this week has been bad. As a Penn State alumnus, it is rather depressing to read the headlines. However, Tracy Zimmer and her squats came to the rescue. For those that need some inspiration to approach training with renewed intensity, Tracy sets an excellent example.

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Category: Fitness
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Nov 11th, 2011

Lots of Running Does Not Equal Lots of Fat Loss


Mune setting up for a fat-loss exercise (picture courtesy of TomC)

Curb The High-Mileage Running if You’re Looking to Lose Body Fat

In the article below, John Kiefer (of Dangerously Hardcore) makes a case for seriously curbing (or eliminating altogether) the amount of long-distance, high-mileage running you do if you’re a woman and your goal is to lose body fat (and retain muscle, or even gain it).

The article is primarily a discussion of the downside of steady-state endurance training on thyroid function, which has a huge impact on the body’s metabolism.

Read the full article here:  Women: Running into Trouble

(Thanks to Aaron J for passing along the article.)

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Nov 10th, 2011

Turkey Trot Anyone?


Let’s put our new & improved running technique to the test!

Looking for a fun way to kick off Thanksgiving Day besides stuffing your turkey and peeling potatoes?  How about a fun run through the hills of Piedmont at the annual Piedmont Turkey Trot 5k? 

The race starts at 8:30 am on Thursday, November 24th at the Piedmont High School.  You must pre-register for the race ($25 for adults, $15 for kids) and you get a t-shirt.  A lot of families run this with dogs, strollers, etc.  It truly is a good time as opposed to an uber-serious race, however there are ribbons and prizes awarded for top finishers in a number of categories.

Rumor has it a certain Lieutenant in the Fire Dept will be running in gear.  In honor of this, how about we get as many CFO-ers as possible to meet up at the Piedmont Fire Station at 8am in your favorite CFO apparel.  Looking forward to seeing the cult take over Piedmont!

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Nov 9th, 2011

Mark Rippetoe on Bar Position in the Low Bar Back Squat

Mark Rippetoe Breaks Down the Low-Bar Back Squat Position

Many of you, when first starting out with a low-bar back squat, experience difficulty in getting into a good low-bar position.  It can be an uncomfortable position at first.  In this video, Mark Rippetoe, author of Starting Strength, walks you through the proper set-up and also addresses the issues that people often encounter when first squatting with the low-bar style.

It’s well worth the 18 minutes of run time…watch this video!

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Nov 8th, 2011

A Nice Rant on Push-Up Technique


Julie in a nice set-up position for the push-up

I came across this nice little rant on push-up technique today, or more succinctly, lack of push-up technique.  It was penned by Greg Everett, Olympic lifting coach and owner of Catalyst Athletics.

He goes into a great deal of detail on the importance of various aspects of the push-up (I agree with his ordering of the priorities for the push-up:  correct and rigid posture, including head position; range of motion; elbow orientation; resistance).

I think the best part of the article is his last paragraph, though, where it becomes clear that you can really use the push-up as a metaphor for any of the simpler movements we do (think pull-ups, box jumps, ball slams, or perhaps even kettlebell swings):

The push-up is one of those things that when done well doesn’t draw much attention—it’s not a flashy feat of athleticism. However, in my opinion, how one performs a push-up is indicative of that individual’s athletic foundation, and possibly more importantly, how committed one is to excellence in movement and performance. Sloppy push-ups suggest to me a superficial interest in athleticism and a degree of laziness. Put a little attention and effort into the simple things and it will pay returns in the more complicated and interesting ones.

Read the full article here:  The Push-up: Why Is This So Hard?

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Nov 7th, 2011

Pumpkin Bars!


The Situation and the Socket chowing down at the party

Congratulations to Tami and Lydia for representing CFO today at the SPF Women’s Pro/Am Powerlifting Meet.  Strong work, ladies!

As promised, here’s the recipe for the pumpkin bars that I brought to the Halloween party last weekend. I stole the original recipe from Melissa but had to make some minor tweaks, so I’ll post the my version of the recipe (what I made for the party).
*Equipment needed: food processor


(makes 16 bars)
3 eggs
2 cups almond meal (sold at Berkeley Bowl, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods)
1 can pumpkin puree
4 dates
3 tablespoons raisins
1 ripe banana
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt

1. In a food processor, combine pumpkin, eggs, and dried fruits until well mixed (about 2 minutes).
2. Add dry ingredients into food processor and mix for another minute or two.
3. Pour batter into a greased 8×8 inch baking dish.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until firm.
5. Let cool and serve!

***Attn Paleo cave people: In case this wasn’t clear before, ALL added sweeteners are off-limits for the duration of our challenge. This includes honey, stevia, Splenda, etc. Also, dairy (even if it’s delicious grass-fed butter), corn, and teff are also out.  These are all "gray area" foods that are sometimes considered to be acceptable foods, so no worries if you unknowingly consumed any of these.  Get back on the wagon and ride it out. You are still in it for the big bucks! 

Post your yummy Halloween dish to comments.

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Nov 6th, 2011

Plantar Faciitis

 2011-11-05 at 20-16-26.jpg

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the tissue on the bottom of the foot.  This tissue (the plantar fascia) becomes irritated in many different ways: poor biomechanics, badly constructed or fitting shoes, weight bearing activities (walking, jogging, lifting heavy objects) or some combination of these.  It is the most common cause of heel pain in runners.

I have had many clients with plantar fasciitis, and have found that it is pretty difficult to get rid of completely–it often comes back occasionally because conventional treatment rarely gets to the root of the problem.  Usually plantar fasciitis comes from an imbalance in the hips or knees that then causes an uneven foot strike or unequal weighting of the feet. In order to really get rid of it, it is necessary to correct the poor biomechanics that have caused the symptom which takes a lot of tedious and picky work that most people are not interested in doing.

Conventional treatment includes regular icing of the area, ibuprofen, massage of the tissue, and stretching the calf muscles.  If you have chronic pain on the bottom of a foot, here are some things you can try:

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Nov 5th, 2011

Powerlifting Meets

Lydia Squat Setup

Lydia setting up for a squat attempt in Pleasanton in January

On Sunday, Tamara and Lydia will travel to Super Training Gym in Sacramento to compete in a powerlifting meet. Today’s post will focus on what happens at a meet and to perhaps encourage some of you to compete at one in the future.

Powerlifting is a strange name for a sport where power is not the contested attribute. Strength is defined as a person’s ability to generate force against an external resistance. Power is the ability to display strength quickly. For example, a 600 pound deadlift will probably come off the floor and proceed to lockout slowly. The lifter will exert significant force (a display of strength), but the bar will not be going too fast. That same lifter might be able to clean 300 pounds. In the case of the 300 pound clean, the bar must move very quickly once it is above the knee, or the lift will not happen. A deadlift requires strength. A clean requires power. Powerlifting is a test of strength, but how fast the weight is moved is not important. Hence, power is not the primary concern in powerlifting.

No matter the nomenclature, a powerlifting meet consists of three contested lifts:  the squat, bench press, and deadlift. A lifter has three attempts at each lift. Only one repetition is required for each attempt. When the results of the lifts are summed, the person with the highest total wins. Of course, there are weight classes to provide a more equal playing field and there are formulae that are often used to provide roughly comparable results between lifters of various weights. Depending upon how the meet is run, the results of the formula may actually determine the winner. The most important takeaway is that the lifter has nine chances to build a total and place in the meet. If a lifter cannot successfully complete at least one attempt at each of the movements, then they do not earn a total and are disqualified from placing, although they can continue to lift.  No one likes to bomb out of a meet.

It is important to note that once a lifter attempts a weight, the only direction the poundage can go in subsequent attempts is up. Therefore, it is important to pick an opening weight for each lift that is easily manageable. The idea is to get on the board with the opener. Thereafter, the weights can climb and personal records can be set. Missing an opener because it is too heavy is a bad way to start things off and often results in not making a total. Hurt feelings are sure to follow.

Powerlfitng meets tend to be all day affairs. Despite the significant time commitment, they are a great deal of fun. First and foremost, you get to wear a singlet which qualifies as perhaps the finest article of clothing known to man. Stepping up to the bar in front of a crowd cheering you on is exhilarating and promotes maximum force production. You are highly incentivized to put everything you have into successfully completing the lift when you have people watching and yelling. Hitting personal records in training is good, but hitting personal records on the platform in front of three judges is even better.  With competent judging, you have independent confirmation that you achieved the proper depth in the squat, or kept your butt on the bench while pressing. I highly recommend competing in general and a powerlifting meet is wonderful place to test your strength and know for sure that you performed the lift to accepted standards.

Good luck to Tami and Lydia this weekend.  The meet in Sacramento on Sunday is for women only. The men compete on Saturday. There’s a chance that Tami and Lydia will be competing alongside the mighty Laura Phelps-Sweatt, too. Lift some big weights for us.

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Category: Fitness
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Nov 4th, 2011

NY Times Article on This Barefoot Running Thing

*** Note:  The Aaron C Running Clinic on November 19 is full.  Email us if you want to be put on the wait list. ***


Chris, Leka, and Ev at the last Aaron C Running Clinic

When it comes to running, this forefoot striking thing seems to work pretty well.


Here’s a nice piece from the NY Times that’s been making the rounds.  It’s by Christopher McDougall, the same guy who wrote Born To Run.  He makes two important points related to running:  1) A more minimal shoe (or perhaps even barefoot) is good for running; and 2) If you don’t have good technique (a forefoot strike with a bent ankle and knee under your hips), it really doesn’t matter what kind of shoe you wear.

Read the full article here:

The Once and Future Way to Run

(Also take note of the sidebar illustration and the accompanying video.)

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