Want to Get a Competitive Edge on the Open??

Some people hear "CrossFit Open" and think run away!  Some people think fun!  Others hear it and think let's get down to business!  This post is for those in the last camp and want to take Open prep to the next level. 

For the next 3 weeks (yes - that means today!) we are re-purposing the Friday night level 2 class into a CrossFit Open Prep Class with coaches Colleen and Jon.  This class is open to all individuals who want to take their open game up a notch.  Each class will attack an Open WOD from past years.  The first 15 minutes will be an opportunity to hear coach Colleen and Jon discuss strategy to help you develop a sense of how to break down a WOD and optimize your efforts.  Afterwards, the class will divide between the RX and scaled divisions of the WOD, prep and go.  This is a great precursor to Friday Night Lights (aka THE 2016 OPEN!)

... STILL havent registered?  Get on it!

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

This Awesome has been mentioned before, but to one of our true giants, he deserves a second mention. No, really, he's giant. Chris Walker busted through the doors of UB a CrossFitter, but wanting to improve each and every day. He is not afraid to push himself to the brink each WOD he faces no matter what is written on the board. He is always open to feedback on how to improve even through the constant ribbing he receives from me about mobilizing more to realize full squat depth :). He lives for everything CrossFit, so much so that he even works for CF Media during the Regionals and Games. 

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But what makes Chris truly awesome is not his towering figure but his even larger heart and fierce loyalty to the UB community. He will always be in your corner, see you through to the end of that grinder and be there to pick you off the ground.

Chris will be relocating immediately to London (his last day is Monday!) for work and his absence will be greatly felt in our community. Chris, as a friend and coach, I can't tell you how much I will miss your presence at UB. I wish you nothing but fun and success in your new adventure. As you your doing your Open WODs overseas, remember that distinct voice in your ear telling you to get to squat depth or else, "No Rep!" Miss you already buddy.

Resolve to Make This Your Best CrossFit Year

January may be over, but with the Open around the corner, goal setting and planning should still be on your mind. 

With that in mind, check out this article from breakingmuscle.com.

How did you do last year? Did you make the masters qualifier or the regionals team as you had set out to do at the beginning of the year? Did you hit that 200lb snatch or get the sub-four minute Fran? 

These are my hopes for the new year for you as a functional fitness aficionado. Pick one, pick them all. Happy New Year!

Commit to Understanding Mobility

Almost nothing will make you a better overall athlete than understanding how mobility affects nearly everything you do. From pull ups to back squats, from snatches (especially snatches) to muscle ups, mobility is king.

I’m not just talking about your warm up. Laying on a foam roller and rolling your low back for ten minutes before class does not count. Mobility is different. It’s pre-workout dynamic stretching and post-workout deep stretching of the muscles and connective tissues. Understand how mobility affects your body’s mechanics, and you will be better at everything you do. 

Make Friends With the Redline

Learn about pacing, and know not every WOD is designed to be performed at 100 percent. Base your pace on the length of the workout, and understand that once you redline (take yourself to your limit), you’re pretty much done for. At the “3, 2, 1, go,” your classmate may take off like a hare, and you may feel more like a tortoise. That’s fine. Rich Froning rarely comes out of the gate in the lead, but he frequently finishes first.

Assess the best strategy for each workout. Play with pacing and rep schemes. If you’re doing “Karen” (150 wall balls), opening up with a huge first set of fifty wall balls may not be the best strategy. Sometimes, on chest-to-bar pull ups, singles may be the fastest way to knock out reps. Learn how to work yourself into a pace that allows you to keep moving and always keeps you just short of being over and grabbing your knees. 

Stop Saying “Squat Snatch”

That’s all. Just stop. When you say “snatch,” the squat is implied. When you say “power,” you are prescribing a specific movement. “Squat snatch” is redundant and ugly. And it’s the same with “squat clean.”

The squat snatch. Or as the rest of the world calls it, "the snatch."

The squat snatch. Or as the rest of the world calls it, "the snatch."

Fine-tune Your Fuel

Make this the year you figure out how important your fuel intake is to your performance. Consider that paleo may be awesome for aesthetics, but not too awesome for performance. Make friends with rice, oats, and yes, sometimes wheat. Have a sandwich now and then. You will not burst into flames. 

Tinker with timing so you know when to eat, not just how. Make note of what and when you ate on the days your training feels amazing, and do the same for when everything feels shitty. You’ll be surprised at what you discover. No amount of mental toughness can overcome a simple lack of fuel. 

Find the Slam Balls

Get out all that equipment sitting in the corner of the gym that no one ever uses and make use of it. You’ll be a better athlete and competitor for it. For example: 

  • Atlas stones – Roll one out of the dust in the corner, and lift it it up over your shoulder. 
  • Axle bars – Learn how to continental clean a heavy axle, and perform front rack walking lunges with it. 
  • Slam balls – Not just for the mom’s boot camp class. Have you ever done 150 slam balls at 30lb? Try it and report back. 
  • Sleds and prowlers – Push them, pull them, and drag them. Go all out on a heavy 800m sled drag once a week.
  • Airdyne and Assault bikes – These are not just for casually warming up. Try this: Four sets of a 20-second all-out sprint, resting 3:40 between sets. Trust me, if you do this right, you will need every bit of that 3:40.

Add Quality to Your Social Media

If you want to get better at your Olympic lifts, Jared Enderton and Charis Chan are the two to follow. Enderton is a well-known weightlifting coach and educator. Chan is an American record holder in her weight class with an 86kg snatch.  Both are multi-sport athletes bringing their talent to CrossFit and GRID. They are also highly respected weightlifting competitors. 

Their social media accounts document quality movement and serve as inspiration for anyone wishing to get better at their lifts. I have met them both, and they are humble athletes and all-around good people.

Put 20-50lb on Your Squat

In my humble opinion, being able to squat heavy is the foundation upon which a happy, long, productive life is built. I am convinced that staying out of a nursing home is predicated on having a strong squat well into your golden years.

Work with your coach and set some squat specific goals for the year. Ask your coach to factor in progressive strength training with a squatting emphasis to get you there. Yes, a solid and heavy snatch may look great, and a jerk PR is always uplifting, but there is a large element of technique involved in both of these.

Squatting requires strength. Make 2016 the Year of the Squat.

This donkey should have scaled.

This donkey should have scaled.

You're staring at the whiteboard trying to figure out what weight to use for the WOD.  The prescribed weight is 135lb cleans, but this is your third week CrossFitting, and your second time ever doing cleans. So what do you do? Start loading up that bar to 135? Easy there, tiger.

The prescribed (Rx) weight for a workout is really just a guideline for you to use. If you're a seasoned CrossFit athlete who has great technique with the particular movement, attempting the Rx weight is likely a good idea. If you're a super badass who can lift a car, maybe it's time to think beyond the Rx weight and choose something a little more challenging.  But for many athletes, it's time to learn how to scale.

How to scale based on the prescribed (Rx) weight

The first and best thing you can do if you're unsure how to scale weight for a workout is ask your coach. Our answers will be different depending on the type of workout.  If it's a metcon, we're going to have you go on the lighter side so you can get more work done.  If it's a strength piece, we can help you warm up to a suitably challenging weight.  The next best thing is to educate yourself.  Watch other athletes in class, ask them about their choices, and take advantage of the CrossFit Journal articles on the subject.

There are some common errors that people make when choosing weight. Here's what to look out for:

But It's On The Whiteboard

You're a whiteboard monkey who will do nothing less than what's on the whiteboard. 6 rounds of 10k row and 30 500lb deadlifts?   Who cares if its ludicrous - <strong>it's on the whiteboard - it must be done!</strong> No.</p>

Impressing the Hotties

Yes, you work out with some bodacious, studly foxes. But please don't try to impress them by using a weight you can't handle. Nothing is less sexy than bad form, or worse, injury.

Copping Out

Otherwise known as "I'm Comfy Here" syndrome.  Does your weight feel comfortable? BZZZZT. You shouldn't feel comfortable. Comfortable is for lying in bed, eating doritos, watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix. You should feel challenged!  Take into consideration the number of reps you need to complete when choosing your weight, but don't use it as excuse to stay too light. The only way to get stronger is to get uncomfortable and increase that weight.

Living in the Past

There was a time when your deadlift was 455lb.  That time was before you broke your arm falling off a mountain bike.  Your doctor has just given you the go ahead to lift weight again, and hot-damn, 1RM deadlifts are on the whiteboard! Do you start warming up for a repeat of your old max? Of course not. Your current capacity for deadlift will be significantly lower while you work yourself back up to your former glory.

PR Hungry Like the Wolf

Some of us are so PR hungry that we ignore our current physical conditions when choosing weight.  Assess your body first. Are you sore, tired, hungry, maybe getting a little sick? Give yourself a break and don't push for more today. Stick with what you know you can manage and pursue more when you feel better. And guess what, Rambo? Not every day is a PR day. PRs are precious gifts from hard work, not a daily occurrence. Don't get greedy.

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

"What's your New Year's resolution?"
You guys know I love Question of the Day. It's for answers like this one:
"To learn Arabic" says this week's Awesome.
"WOW. How come?"
"My boyfriend speaks Arabic, so I just want to learn it."

That's friggin' cool, in my opinion. Big, daunting tasks don't seem to phase Stephanie. Whether it's jumping off cliffs in Hawaii or busting out picture-perfect overhead squats, she handles it all with a smile. Even between jobs last year, she didn't let that keep her from coming to UB consistently and getting a happy sweat on. Cool as a cucumber, this one.

Why else is Romo awesome? It has to do with what a lot of us forget about CrossFit. Sometimes we (two thumbs pointed at this guy) get caught up chasing PRs and faster times, and we forget that it's FUN. It's just another way to improve our lives so we're healthy and strong and able to be the best version of ourselves. Consciously or not, I don't think Stephanie has ever lost site of that. And to me, that's friggin' Awesome.

Stephanie, enjoying life in and outside of UB!

Stephanie, enjoying life in and outside of UB!

A huge part of success is accountability.  Holding yourself responsible for your actions and choices speaks volumes to the type of education and upbringing you had, and is a determinant for how you set and achieve goals. This is true in any aspect of life, but it’s arguably easiest to observe in training and nutrition.


What’s Your Excuse?

So you’ve made that first step by joining a gym. That’s great! You show up to class sort of consistently, albeit always late, and you make an effort to ask the coach the finer details of building muscle, eating right, and training properly for your goals. But things just aren’t going your way because “life happens” and other things are to blame rather than yourself. Eventually, you fall off and blame the gym for your failure. We all know this person. Here’s the hard truth: everyone has things that are out of their control; everyone has the capacity to learn for themselves; and everyone has 24 hours in a day. It’s up to you to manage accordingly.

nfortunately, the contemporary mindset is that it’s okay to just accept that there are greater forces at work causing problems, which creates the false sense of entitlement for a lot of people who feel their opinions and excuses really matter. There’s always some kind of scapegoat. Sugar made you overweight? No. Eating too much made you overweight. You’re always late because (insert excuse here)? No. You failed to plan accordingly to make it on time and respect the time of others. You’re not seeing body fat loss or strength gain because the coach or gym? No. You failed to commit to the hard work and discipline of a consistent, tough, and intelligent training plan. This list can go on.


A big problem with lack of accountability is that it blinds you to the larger perspective (context) of the path you’re taking with your fitness. All too often people ask “how?” without following up with “why?”. It’s a defense mechanism to blame everything but you, and the convoluted cultures of gyms can enable this even more. Introspection is the first place to start if you want to resolve the issues you struggle with in health, but it’s tough on the ego and even tougher when you’re in an industry that thrives off alarmism and quick answers/solutions. Truthfully, there’s really only one person who’s going to be able to get you to your goals. Hold yourself accountable for your knowledge, choices, and actions. Sure unexpected situations arise. Guess what? This is true for everyone in the world.  So for those still approaching their life without accountability (and I know all us coaches and teachers know these people), please grow up.

From Tabata Times.

Anthony Gustin of SF Custom Chiropractic at UB

Exciting news for all of our members! United Barbell and SF Custom Chiropractic are partnering together to provide you all with top notch chiropractic, body work, functional movement screening and rehab work. 

Starting this Friday SF Custom Chiropractic will be available for appointments at UB on Friday Evenings from 3-8 PM. 

Dr. Gustin is a CrossFit Level One Trainer himself and has his Master's in Sports Rehab. If you have any aches or pains anywhere in your body or simply want to move better and feel better, book your first visit today!


Chiropractic + Bodywork + Rehab

Dr. Gustin is trained in functional movement assessment (SFMA) and the gold standard in soft tissue treatment for dysfunctional tissue (A.R.T.). They are able to help you reduce pain and improve whole body movement and function. 

The thorough examination and treatment, alongside a custom rehabilitative exercise program, will assist you in reaching your health goals and get you back to moving better and feeling better. The doctors align their treatment and rehab with the coaches of United Barbell in a team approach to allow you to reach your peak state of health and performance.

Working with Dr. Gustin and SF Custom Chiropractic is not just for those with back pain!  Book a new patient visit and check him out!

40 Minute New Patient Visit ($149)

20 Minute Follow Up Session ($79)

Reserve your spot with him for this week here:

Dusty Hyland Seminar - CHANGE OF DATE!

Apologies to all, but our gymnastics seminar had to be moved!  Our new date is April 9th!  Registration is open, so claim your spot here (click on events).

WHAT: Gymnastics Seminar with Dusty Hyland


WHEN: Saturday, April 9th from 12:30 - 4:30

WHY: As CrossFit has evolved over the years, the average athlete has become better, faster and stronger.  Most CrossFit gyms have stepped up their game with things like competitor and weightlifting programs.  But one thing every athlete and gym could use more time with?  Gymnastics skills!   Queue Dusty and his gymnastics seminar!  Want to see a sample of Dusty's work?  Check out SkillWOD or his series "Virtuosity with Dusty Hyland" on Breaking Muscle.

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

This week's awesome is well overdue.  Maybe you've seen him with me mid-morning, giving 110% in his PT sessions.  Maybe you've seen him laying around in the back room, diligently working towards a more mobile body and relentlessly working his Oly form.  Or maybe you've buddied up with him in SWOD classes.  There is also a good chance you've seen him focused behind a camera, documenting a UB competition.  No matter where you run across him, make sure to give him a high five because Manuel is definitely one awesome cat. 

Manu has been a loyal member of United Barbell since 2013.  Over the years he has conquered many hurdles while maintaining his dedication and a great sense of humor.  Since beginning, he has destroyed his hatred of the jump rope, chipped away at hindering mobility issues, developed a crush on the Concept2 and found an undying love for all things barbell.  Manu is the ultimate go getter and is a resolute beast!  Thanks for making UB your home, Manu!  Our days are left a little sunnier from your puffin-awesomeness!