Today in classes, we are hitting some lactate threshold training.  For those who don't have a history in endurance sports, there is a solid chance this is a new concept for you. Here is a great and simple breakdown of the concept from CrossFit Bold.


We've all suffered with the "burn" during an intense workout like Fran, where our shoulders are screaming at us to stop and our legs just want to fall off and lay peacefully on the ground. 

Get used to this position

During this "burn" phase a lot of chemical stuff happens inside your body including the production of lactic acid. This burn can become pretty intense and causes us to down barbells, shake things out and take a bit of a rest.

With Lactic Threshold training (or otherwise known as anaerobic threshold training) we want to [find our 6th gear, learn to use it, and expand capacity and self awareness in the process.] 


The bodies energy systems can be broken down in to 3 pathways (phosphagen pathway, the glycolytic pathway, and the oxidative pathway), which can be split in to 2 different systems . The aerobic system and the anaerobic system. To simplify things, aerobic means "with oxygen", i.e. performing low intensity exercise that allows you to breath (Usually activities that last over several minutes, i.e long distance running) and anaerobic meaning "without oxygen" (activities performed for less than a few minutes, like sprinting or heavy 1 rep maxes).

Whilst there is benefits to training both systems, in CrossFit we highly favour anaerobic training, as it gives us a lot more bang for it buck and it has been shown that increasing your anaerobic capacity leads to gainz at an aerobic level, without the negative effects that aerobic training has on the body (i.e muscle burning), but with all the amazing benefits (burning body fat, improved cardiovascular health), plus its own benefits like muscle building and greater crossover in to sports with its increase in power, strength and speed

Basically put, it is possible to increase your endurance performance as an athlete, by training with high intense anaerobic exercise. Which is great for all you guys who do triathlons, marathons and crazy ultra runs (respect to Shona on entering that beast).

Its also a great fat loss tool, and a great way to build muscle. win win.


Unfortunately making gainz in this area of your training will come at a painful cost. You will need to take yourself to the pain cave a fair few times to allow your body to benefit from the adaptive response that will increase your ability to withstand the burn.

The Weekly Dose of Awesome: Bradley R

Getting after 17.5 at this years Friday Night Lights

This week's dose of awesome is someone who I find personally inspirational every day. He's a masters athlete who is able to regularly hand out an ass whooping to people half his age. He's someone who claims that he doesn't find comfort comfortable and prides himself in his ability to suffer well. He's someone who is driven to be the best he can be and isn't afraid to hold other people to the same high standards he holds himself to. And he can make you more handsome than you've ever been in 15 minutes flat. Is he the word's fittest barber? We may never know for sure but it seems likely.

With a history of cyclocross racing, trail running, and triathlons, he's no stranger to hard training, but weightlifting is a new element for him. Last year he did a stint of Stronglifts 5x5 and was able to quickly make progress until he was sidelined by injury. Since then he has been dedicated to coming back strong and paying more attention to technique.

Bradley also took the last year to focus on his diet and has been through several cycles on the Renaissance Periodization diet plan, managing to achieve impressive body composition changes through singleminded dedication. He's a great example of what can be achieved in a year if you are willing to put in the hard work.

I feel so grateful to have Bradley as my training partner and partner in life. He has helped me up my game by being a strong supportive influence in my training. We meal prep together every week and keep each other honest and accountable to our diet goals. And he has introduced me to my first new sport in years, cycling, which I am now obsessed with. Bradley - you bring so much to my life and to the UB community. You are awesome!

Olivia Graff

Olivia's athletic origins lie in gymnastics and circus arts. After finding CrossFit in 2007, she became obsessed, and three years later left her IT career and opened United Barbell. Olivia is particularly passionate about helping people new to fitness to find joy in their growing athletic abilities. Since the birth of her daughter, Isis, in 2013, Olivia can add helping little ones find their athletic path to her list of passions.

The NorCal Open Wrap Up

For those who missed out on UB's oly crew throwing up some solid weights this weekend - you missed out!  It was a great day where all 4 athletes competing took risks and pushed themselves to their max.  Shaheen and I ended the day proud coaches. Here's a closer play by play:

The Ladies

This meet was divided into two heats: ladies and gents.  First up were the ladies.  Erin faced her first meet ever, while Anita and Brigitte pushed themselves to try bigger weights while learning to trust the judgment calls of their coaches.  

  • Anita had all competition PRs and a lifetime PR for snatch: 50k Snatch/63k C&J/ 113k Total
  • Brigitte had all competition PRs and a lifetime PR total: 50k Snatch/64k C&J/ 106k Total
  • Erin had all competition PRs (yay first meet!): 26k Snatch/36k C&J/ 62k Total

The Gent

Man was up next with the men.  Man came into this second meet excited, but a little tentative with a tweaky wrist.  That plus lessons learned aside (this man plans to eat/sleep/live JERKS!), Man still managed to leave with a few new PRs under his belt:

Man had 3 competition PRs: 55k Snatch/65k C&J/ 120k Total

So what are the takeaways?  I though Anita put her reflections really well:

Lessons learned: 

1) Set goals: set tangible goals for yourself, and keep notes on your progress. the more meets you do, the more data you have to help with making realistic goals.

2) Rip off the bandaid: Don't wait too long to do a meet; if it is your first time, just go for it, have fun, and soak in the experience of the process.

3) Be proactive: Don't wait for others to do a meet. Look at the schedules, and pick a meet, and stick to it. 

4) Be consistent: getting better doesn't happen overnight, also having a program with a linear progression helped me see instant progress.

5) Make sacrifices: I committed to train 4-5x a week with olympic lifting, mostly alone. Was it fun? not all the time. I definitely had FOMO watching other people do classes. I did the Open because of FOMO, and it did throw me off my normal training cycle, and i paid for it. lesson learned!

Food for Thought: Music in Training - Is It Helping, or Making You a Whiny Baby?

I usually like listening to music when I train. Most athletes I’ve known do. Typically the reason given if they’re asked why is that it keeps them motivated and energetic, and if memory serves, research has backed up the benefits of music in this regard (although who cares what the research says on this—you know if it has this effect on you or not).  
But music is a luxury. If you consider it anything else, it’s a problem.
You’re not in the gym for a concert; you’re there to train, and if training isn’t your first priority by an overwhelming margin, you’re already losing. Noticing what music is playing, and even recognizing whether or not it’s something you like, is fine, and arguably it would be impossible not to do this.
There will be plenty of days in your life in which you struggle to get motivated for your workout or a particular exercise—you might be tired, hurting, or distracted by life outside of weightlifting—and on these days, the right music can change your mood pretty effectively.
In such cases, I don’t have an issue with you blasting that music to get yourself through a tough day. But I do believe that you have to have the ability to do it without music—whether that means complete silence, or someone else’s horrible, over-produced, auto-tuned nonsense that sounds like it was made on a drug store keyboard in his mom’s basement but somehow is earning him millions of dollars…
Here are a few of my rules regarding music and training.

 Motivation As I said above, use music if it helps you stay motivated on days you’re more inclined to go cry on the couch and watch Lifetime movies than put your lifting shoes on [Note: lifters are people who lift; lifting shoes are the things they wear on their feet to do so.]
Focus Weightlifting requires a lot of focus. If you’re not training it every session, you’re falling behind. If you have a million things bouncing around your head while you’re trying to train, you’re going to have a bad day. In these cases, listening to music I believe can reduce those thoughts and distractions considerably—instead of a million things, you may whittle it down to as few as two: your training and the music. Obviously, this is a huge improvement. However, never allow it to be the primary focus. If you’re paying more attention to the song playing than your current or next set, get yourself sorted out.
Leave it Alone If you’re going to listen to music while you train, just listen to it. If you’re on your phone or whatever other futuristic device you’re playing music through after every song looking for the next song you want to hear, you’re violating the previous rule. Pick better musicians who can make more than one decent song per album and let it play through. Or use that technology and make playlists that you’ll listen to from start to finish.
Social Media & Your Goddamned Phone I would rather, by orders of magnitude, have my lifters paying attention to the music playing than getting on their phones and looking at social media between sets. If listening to music while you train helps reduce your compulsion to scroll through millions of posts you’ve never needed to see, then please do it.
Shut Up About It If you train in a gym with other lifters, don’t argue or complain about the music if it’s not your preferred artist, genre, whatever. Get over it. Be a damn athlete and do what you’re supposed to do. As a coach, I’ve made it extremely clear that the moment anyone starts arguing or whining about the music, it’s getting shut off and they can all sit around and listen to themselves breathing.
Unplug Your Ears If you train with a coach or even just teammates, take those ear buds out. From a coach’s perspective, having an athlete wear ear buds in training is a sign of disrespect—it says I’m not interested in what you have to tell me during this workout. Maybe you believe that’s not true, but if your coach does, that’s what matters. That aside, your coach needs to be able to communicate with you quickly and easily. He/she shouldn’t have to go to great lengths to get your attention to get you to pull your headphones out so he/she can help you be less shitty at weightlifting. Act like you actually care. If you don’t want to hear what your coach has to say, quit working with him/her.  If you train in a gym with a lot of distractions and you don’t have a coach there working with you in person, by all means, plug those ears up and look as unfriendly as possible so everyone leaves you alone and doesn’t disrupt your training to ask you if you learned how to snatch using the scoop method or tell you that all the best Chinese lifters internally rotate their arms overhead.
The bottom line to all of this is pretty simple if you haven’t already picked up on the theme: Use music strictly as a tool to improve your training, not as another obstacle to progressing in a sport that’s already tough enough on its own.

Support Patrick, Jon & James in the Master's Qualifiers

This Thursday at 5pm Patrick B., Coach Jon, and Head Coach James K. from brother gym Pacific Strength will be glued solid to their computer screens.  Why?  They will be watching the WOD announcements of the 2017 CrossFit Games Masters Qualifier!

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In the Online Qualifier, Masters athletes worldwide will submit scores and/or videos for four workouts. Once the Online Qualifier workouts are released, athletes will have four days to complete them. 

To support these fine gents and their awesome efforts we have worked out the following:  

  • Saturday and Sunday's workouts will be selected WODs from the 2017 Online Qualifier
  • Coach James (long time UB coach and now head coach of Pac Strength) plus some of his Pac Strength crew will be joining Jon and Patrick for some of the workouts at UB.
  • UBites are invited to join Jon and Patrick to Pac Strength at select times at Pac Strength to do the workouts.

Look for updates after the WODs are announced on Thursday for details!

The Art of Missed Lifts

How often do you hear the question "... Is that safe?" after you explain the inclusion of olympic and power lifting in your fitness routine?  Sometimes that question refers to your body's resilience under load, but often the question refers to the instinctual fear of a badly missed weight crashing down on you, crushing your unprotected body.  What they don't realize is that you have worked on your technique at length under scrutiny, and if you miss a weight, you know how to drop it safely... right?   If you can't say yes to that question, we've got a problem.  Missing weight is something you should feel comfortable doing.  Not only is it necessary for your safety, but it will allow you to go after the big weights with more confidence.  In case you need a refresher, here are the things to remember when gravity wins.


If the weight is going to drop, let it go.  Bars and equipment are all replaceable... you are not!  If you hold onto a bar, you can either pull it down on top of you (cue instinctual fear), or become injured by the bar puling your body into bad positions as the bar falls.  If you are losing an overhead movement in front of you, keep your arms straight, let go and take a step back.  Likewise, if you are losing a weight behind you, let got and quickly step forward out of the bar path. These might seem like logical instructions, but you should still practice appropriate missing a couple times before throwing big weights overhead for the first time.

Back Squats and Good Mornings

If the bar is on your back, it should always be dropped behind you.  This again might sound logical, but many people feel pinned while their hips continuing to rise, so they decide to let the bar roll over their head and neck to drop it in front of them.  This can severely hurt your neck or head or even give you a concussion.  If you are unable to get up, drop your hips and hop forward while popping the weight back behind you.  Think bunny hop.  Don't arch your back and let the weight roll off of you -- your spine was not meant as a slide for 100+ bars.

Front Squats and Cleans

If the weight is falling forward from the front rack position, let go of the bar and pull your elbows down and back while throwing your arms forward and hopping backward.  However, if at the bottom of the clean or front squat you and the weight are both traveling backward and you can't let it go, do not pull your arms back (this can lead to a serious elbow injury or a broken wrist... like what happened to this guy).  Instead, keep your elbows high, or pull them down by your body, but no further back.

Before You Miss 

With any lifting, you should be aware of your surroundings.  Is there an object on the floor or a person behind you?  That plate in front of you might not seem like a big deal, but if your dropped bumper plate catches it on a corner, that bar could bounce and head in the direction of your shins, or someone else.

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

I am a big fan of the dynamic and darling duo that is Sid and Prerana. One of the most inspiring things I've witnessed in awhile, is Sid's attitude of grace, determination, and patience. Last August, Sid experienced a freak accident, breaking his hand, and causing him to need surgery. In spite of significant set-backs in Sid's healing process that are beyond his control, he continues to move forward with a positive, empowered attitude. 

Although Sid was not officially participating in the House Cup, you may have noticed that nearly every Friday night during the Open, he showed up to judge and cheer. You may also have seen him participating in the United for Youth Fight Gone Bad workout (his wife's first competitive fitness event), with his own special modifications (assault bike, FGB...yikes!). 

Sid, you are a one-of-a-kind gem, and we are proud to be your fitness family. 


Name: Sidharth Murthy 

Nickname: Sid

Hometown:  Bangalore, India

Occupation: Head of Product for Crunch, a video start-up

When did you first start CrossFitting?: Way back in 2011. But it's been an on-again, off-again kinda story

Favorite Movements: Anything that's leg related.. more so now with my scaphoid injury

Least favorite Movements: HSPU ... :(

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? A buddy of mine in Arizona asked me to come and check out this "thing" he does out of a garage at 4:30 a.m. Rest assured I was intrigued and the rest is history.

What is an unexpected way CrossFit has affected your life? My wife Prerana was not into working out, but I was able to convince her to come and give Crossfit a shot. And with boat loads of help from Coach Nikki, Prerana has become a regular. It's been fun to see the UB WODs feature in our conversations and to see her follow the CF Open closely.

What’s your secret talent? I can wield a tennis racquet. Back in the day, I toured the pro circuit for a little bit

What is your biggest phobia? Heights

What is the first song in your favorite playlist right now? Learning to Fly, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

What is your favorite cheat meal? Chinese take-out

What’s in your most frequently used emoji tab? I don't understand emojis .. have a hard time picking the right one.

What’s the last thing you searched for on Google? My next travel destinations.. Canyons in Utah, Iceland, Canadian Rockies..

Team UB at the 2017 NorCal Open

What are you doing Saturday?  The correct answer is not getting an early start on hiding Easter Eggs... It's heading across the Golden Gate Bridge to support UB's oly team at the 2017 NorCal Open!!  This weekend Anita, Brigitte, Erin M. and Man will all be busting out their singlets to compete!  Details are posted below - come cheer them on to 6 for 6 glory! 

(Please note - the gym is small, so spectator space is limited)

The 2017 NorCal Open 

Where:  Marin Heavy Athletics (West Bay CrossFit) @ 1295 2nd st. San Rafael, Ca. 94901

When: Women (aka - Anita, Brigitte, & Erin) - Lift at 11 ; Men (aka - Man) - Lift at 1:30

Cost: Spectators $10 at the door.  

"Pretty Fit" and Pretty Stuck

Now that the Open is over, it's time to take stock of your performance.  What are your weak points?  Where are you still making excuses?  Logan from Deuce gym posted some thoughts I wanted to share to inspire you to find that next goal... 

...We do a couple things well. One of which is getting the unfit on a path to legitimate sustainable fitness. Thank goodness this is a focus of ours because it is here that lies America’s biggest health problem and most significant change opportunity. There aren’t tens of millions of Americans that are struggling from the plight of being remarkably fit, but unable to progress to reign supreme as extremely fit. It sounds silly even to say that.

There are people, many of you, in fact, that are in this position. You’ve done what is seemingly the “hard part” by transcending a fitness deficit and you’re finally living in on offense. You probably can move a little bit of weight with a barbell, can jump on a box a couple feet high, and can run more than a mile non-stop. Statistically, this makes you an outlier in our country and if you couldn’t do these things before you came, you should be extremely proud of your ability to accomplish what very few people can. Yet, you’re stuck, and stuck isn’t acceptable.

The good news is, just because the next steps may be unclear, you can continue to progress your fitness beyond your current state just like you did in the first place. If you’re “pretty fit” you’re in a position ripe for stagnation. Without any impending consequences for your level of fitness, the motivation from the bottom up isn’t as strong as when you’re rock bottom. Furthermore, since you aren’t likely an elite athlete, the pull from the top isn’t as strong as an Olympic hopeful or a race savvy weekend warrior looking to edge out every last inch of performance.

For those stuck in the middle, it’s time to recalibrate. Take inventory. What are you capable of? What are your gym stats? How can you move the needle on these? Which stats would you specifically enjoy moving the needle on?

Every single fitness capacity and movement pattern has an infinite opportunity for progress. All you need is awareness of your current status and clarity around new goals to leave your stagnation behind.

United for Youth Results

It started back in December. Westside Athletes Association (a non-profit started by UB's community governor Christopher, along with coaches Nikki, Jason, Jo, Jon, and member Maria McGinley) began their third "United for Youth" event. This time their goal was BIG - bringing a 2-day certification to 20 teachers in the SF Unified School District, allowing them to implement functional fitness programs in their schools.

The UB community rose up in support of the event, helping raise funds in contribution and celebrating it with February's Fight Gone Bad event.  The fundraising continued up until the actual training, which took place last Wednesday-Thursday.

Before sharing some details of the training, HUGE thanks goes to all of you who supported WAA's cause, especially those fundraisers who helped raise $10,766!!! Some great prizes were solicited for the top 3 fundraisers, and those turned out to be:

Mike Coutermarsh - $946
Amelia Eddleman - $795
Dock Howard - $550

Congrats to them! And again, WAA cannot thank you enough for all of your participation and support. 

This training was the tangible result of the efforts around United for Youth. 20 teachers attended, and coaches Nikki, Jason, and Jon were also given complimentary attendance. Safe to say it was a resounding success! Here are just a few quotes from the teachers on what they found valuable:

  • The basic concept - focus on mechanics! It's easy to get swept up in the complexities of teaching a class, and this was a good reminder to live/work by simple rules and master them.
  • How to implement this within my P.E. class and how the approach will help me engage and challenge my students' fitness levels.
  • How to identify /correct form in squats, jumps, lifts.
  • Physical Literacy - what it means and why it matters.
  • Technique over Intensity and Load.

We learned all about Brand X's methodology for teaching kids (or really, anyone) how to move well through life. They call it "physical literacy" - how to confidently, capably, and safely move through your environment. Quality of movement is of paramount importance, and the foundation is in safety and fun. As they teach it, fun = success, and the goal is to have every kid be successful.  

Beyond how this applies to teens and children, many lessons/tips/drills can also be applied to adults, and we hope to share some of that with you in future classes. If you want to learn more, feel free to chat with Nikki, Jason, or Jon!  

We can't say it enough - THANK YOU.  From the bottom of our hearts, we truly appreciate what you helped create.  I'll leave you with some pics from the training.