Limited Fotsch 2016 Shirt Run - Order Now!

To help support Colleen and her trip to the 2016 CrossFit Games California Regional, California Strength and Caffeine & Kilos have sponsored a limited t-shirt run of 50 t-shirts. The shirts are $20 each and will be given on a first come, first served basis. Get in quick if you would like to secure your size!

100% of your shirt payment goes to Colleen, so show your support for our lady while helping her cover costs of flights, room & board. Pre-orders will be taken in cash only so bring your $20 and support our girl.

PLEASE NOTE - THIS IS A DESIGN MOCKUP - THE SHIRTS WILL BE BLACK!

PLEASE NOTE - THIS IS A DESIGN MOCKUP - THE SHIRTS WILL BE BLACK!

Vasa's Last Day!

Today is Vasa's last day!  Vasa's job is relocating to the peninsula and will no longer be able to make it to UB to get his WOD on.  We will miss you Vasa!  We are so honored we got to be a part of your fitness journey!

Leaner and stronger! Feels great.

I signed up for CrossFit in Jan and it was a game changer. It was really intense and challenging, especially for someone who's never been to the gym. But United Barbell's community and our amazing coaches Nikki Staley, Trent Simmons and James Kusama really helped me stay afloat. My main goal was to show up every time and not quit. After a few months I educated myself with the diet aspect and started eating clean as well. There was a snowball effect and towards the end, I was working out 6 days a week and programmed my workouts to suit my work schedule and based on how my body felt each day. If anything, the whole process taught me about the importance of discipline and commitment.

Overall, It's been a truly humbling and fun experience.

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

Name: United Barbell House Cup

Nickname / Alter Ego: Mr. Shiny or UBHC

Hometown: Born in San Francisco, I currently reside in Steve Love aka Captain America's (already full) Trophy Case but today, I'm making the big move --- you can now catch me on display at United Barbell.

Occupation: Proudly representing the winning group of orange-loving athletes at United Barbell... Open Cup Champions, The Ultimates! 

When did you first start CrossFitting?  I've been on the CrossFit scene for years now, but there is no box quite like United Barbell.

Favorite WOD: "The Captain America" aka heavy bench press and bicep curls for time.

Least favorite WOD: 14.5 aka 16.5, I mean... really.

What is an unexpected way CrossFit has affected your life? Well I was forged for United Barbell's House Cup... so it's why I exist. 

What is the first song in your favorite playlist right now? "All I Do is Win" by DJ Khaled

Wrist Love

Is this equation true for you?  Front squats = wrist pain.  How about if you change out "front squats" for thrusters, overhead squats, cleans, snatches, push presses, jerks, handstands, or push ups?  It doesn't have to be that way.  Seeing these movements on the whiteboard shouldn't send your wrists screaming in fear.

Get Warm

Would you run a mile without warming up your hips, ankles, or knees?  Of course not!  Your wrists are no different - they need a warm up.  This means a general warm up as well as wrist specific exercises, and more time with an empty bar.  They might feel tight at first, but giving them time to warm up will help them be prepared for all that you demand of them.

Craving more handstand walking or pushups in your life?  Make sure you take care to not only warm up properly but spend time developing your strength-endurance.   That can mean more time in planks and handstand holds, but there are some great wrist strength exercises that will help as well.  Interested?  Ask your coaches for some homework.

Proper Positions

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Once you are ready to take on your workout, it's time to check your positioning.  When the bar is overhead, make sure you don't let it roll back into the top of your palm.  This forces the weight behind your forearm, and will put more tension on your wrist.  Instead, keep your wrist in line with your forearm and the weight balanced over it.

For cleans, practice receiving the bar high.  You should receive above your clavicles, resting the bar on your shoulders (but not rounding your shoulders) instead of out in front of your shoulders.  Make sure your back is tall and tight.  Practice releasing your hook grip and relaxing your fingers as you come into the receiving position, right after your elbows have rotated up and around the bar.  This will keep your wrists in a better position and at the same time, make you more consistent with your lifts.

For cleans, thrusters and front squats, try a wider grip.  Often athletes adopt a grip that is too narrow, putting more pressure on your wrists.  Instead of keeping your hands tightly gripping the bar, let them relax, so you the bar is resting on your fingertips.

Mobilize

Wrist mobility should be addressed in your warm up, but if you want to make gains in your wrist flexibility, wrist mobility work should be a part of your at-home routine.  Here a few to try at home:

While on all fours, start with your wrists flipped externally hands flat on the ground, palms down.  With the weight mostly in your legs, slowly sit back until you feel the stretch.

Move your body back and down towards your feet while keeping your hands flat on the ground.

In the same position on all fours, place one hand on the ground, palm now facing up.  Place your other hand on top of the palm up hand.  Keeping your bottom hand in place, externally rotate your forearm so the inside of your elbow points forward. Wash, rinse and repeat.  Then do the same on with your other hand.</p>

Place both of your palms together in front of you in a "prayer pose," fingers pointing upward.  Maintaining palm contact, bring your hands down as low as possible.  When completed, flip your hands so your fingers point downward. Bring your hand as high as you can while still maintaining palm contact.

Place both of your palms together behind your back in the same "prayer pose."  (Getting them there might be all the stretch you need.)

This one is good for after your other wrist work.  Lace your fingers together.  Keeping your fingers together, push and pull your hands around in every rotational path possible. Get full rotations and keep your wrists loose.

Extra Care

If you are about to tackle a wrist intensive workout and you are still dealing with wrist sensitivity, try taping your wrists.  If you need extra support, I strongly recommend trying out a pair of wrist wraps.  If you are looking to buy a pair, you can purchase them here.

Mini Series: Everything You Need to Know About Recovering - Sleep

The following is such an important topic that I am breaking it up for you in digestible bites.  Welcome back to a mini series created from the article published in Juggernaut Training Systems.  Click here to see last week's intro installment.

Fatigue Reduction Methods that Work Well:

The fatigue reduction modalities presented in this section are the ones that almost certainly work and work well. They were chosen because they have three distinct advantages in their favor:

– They have strong support in the peer-reviewed literature.

– They logically align with our greater understanding of sport science and physiology.

– They have been used and sworn by in the real world for a long time and by a diverse group of athletes and gym rats alike.

When you’ve got all three, you know you’re on to something that really works. And our first – and easily most powerful – fatigue reducer:

1) Sleep

Sleep is such a powerful fatigue fighter that it’s likely more effective than all of the other items on this list combined. In fact, if insufficient sleep is a chronic occurrence, it comes close to making even the best efforts on all other fatigue fighting lines null and void. Curiously, a likely major function of sleep in animals (including humans) is precisely to reduce fatigue. Yeah, you might be OK without that massage post-workout, but sleep is not optional.

Going chronically without needed sleep leads to all sorts of fun effects, including performance losses, technique execution difficulties, and profound elevations of cortisol and decreases in testosterone. Going without sleep has also been shown to do two things that are especially interesting: cause fat gain and later, weight loss (if depravation gets bad enough). Fat gain combined with weight loss is literally the fastest way to lose muscle. It’s a REALLY bad deal.

OK fine, sleep is good, no sleep is bad. Got it. What about some practical recommendations? How much is enough? Well, the average trainee seems to need about eight hours of quality sleep per night. But that doesn’t mean much, because you might not be the average trainee. We ALL know that guy who sleeps five hours a night and recovers just fine! Ronnie Coleman was supposedly in this unique group of athletes. So what’s the deal?

It seems that the best recommendation for sleep is: Get enough FOR YOU. Your training partner might need six hours of sleep, and your coach might need 10, but the only thing you need is enough sleep for your own physiological needs. How do you know you’re getting enough? The truth is: Unless you’re a little kid, you know.

If you wake up tired and get sleepy during the day all the time, you’re not getting enough quality sleep. If you feel A-OK without massive doses of stimulants, you’re likely fine. It’s always good to experiment with a bit more sleep if you’re OK to see if there is a benefit, but generally, it’s that simple. And the thing is, almost everyone KNOWS when they are sleep deprived. They know, but they say “my job is demanding” or “the stress keeps me from sleeping,” or they just love late-night TV and can’t quit the habit. And it’s OK to be sleep deprived now and again, but if it’s a chronic thing, it will have a large impact on your training results. That’s for sure.

Is it all right to party super late a couple of weekends a month? Of course! But if you’re under-sleeping five days per week, you might benefit from making sure you get the sleep you need … on a REGULAR basis.

How are you at lights out?  Tune in next week to follow up with another underestimated fatigue reducer: Sleep.  Got questions?  Talk to your coach about your recovery routine.

Your Concept 2: Damper Settings 101

Ever look at your damper setting mid-WOD and wonder if it's in the right place?  Ever wonder what it's all about?  If you have 5 minutes, check out the info below straight from the Concept 2 site on the matter.

Damper Setting is…

The damper is the lever on the side of the flywheel housing, or fan cage, that controls how much air flows into the cage. The fan cage is numbered so you can set the damper lever to a particular value from 1–10, indicating how much air is drawn into the cage on each stroke:

  • Higher damper settings allow more air into the flywheel housing. The more air, the more work it takes to spin the flywheel against the air. More air also slows the flywheel down faster on the recovery, requiring more work to accelerate it on the next stroke.
  • Lower damper settings allow less air into the flywheel housing, making it easier to spin the flywheel.

Damper setting is similar to bicycle gearing: it affects how rowing feels but does not directly affect the resistance. A lower damper setting on the indoor rower is comparable to easier gears on a bike.

Damper Setting is Not…

Many people confuse damper setting with intensity level or resistance. Instead, the intensity of your workout is controlled by how much you use your legs, back and arms to move the handle—in other words, how hard you pull. This is true regardless of where the damper lever is set: the harder you pull, the more resistance you will feel. Because our indoor rowers use wind resistance (which is generated by the spinning flywheel), the faster you get the wheel spinning, the more resistance there will be.

Think about rowing on the water. Regardless of whether you are rowing in a sleek racing shell, or in a big, slow row boat, you will need to increase your intensity and apply more force to make either boat go faster. The difference is in how it feels to make the different boats go fast. Making a sleek boat go fast requires you to apply your force more quickly. Making the slow boat go fast also requires more force, but the speed at which you apply the force will be slower over the course of the rowing stroke.

At a damper setting of 1–4, the indoor rower feels like a sleek racing shell; at the higher numbers, the indoor rower feels like a slow row boat. Regardless of the setting, you will need to increase your effort to increase your intensity.

Drag Factor: How True Effort is Calculated

You might be tempted to think that rowing on the highest setting will result in your best score. This is where the Performance Monitor comes in.

Between each stroke, the PM measures how much your flywheel is slowing down to determine how sleek or slow your “boat” is. This rate of deceleration is called the drag factor. On your next stroke, the PM uses the drag factor to determine from the speed of the flywheel how much work you are doing. In this way, your true effort is calculated regardless of damper setting. This self-calibration is what allows us to compare scores from different indoor rowers, making things like indoor racing and the online world rankings possible.

Different indoor rowers can have different drag factor ranges. A damper setting of 3 on your home machine may feel like 4 on the machine at the gym. Differences in air temperature, elevation—even how much lint is caught in the flywheel housing—can all affect the drag factor from machine to machine. When using different machines, you may need to adjust the damper setting to achieve the drag factor and feel you prefer.

What Damper Setting to Use

With a little experimentation, you will find the damper setting and drag factor that work best for you. We recommend starting out on a damper setting of 3–5. Really focus on technique, and as you improve, you may find that a lower damper setting gives you the best workout and results. Resist setting the damper lever too high; this can exhaust your muscles before you reap the full cardiovascular benefit rowing provides. The Performance Monitor will give you immediate accurate feedback on each stroke so that you can monitor your performance and determine where you get your best results.

You can also vary your damper setting to achieve different types of workouts. In general, lower damper settings are best for aerobic workouts, while higher damper settings make rowing more of a strength workout.

Congrats Coach Alex!

Speaking from experience, it is hard to put it all on the line and follow your dreams.  But the rewarding feeling of opening on day 1 and beyond is well worth it!  And after seeing Coach Alex's smiling face yesterday morning at his new coffee shop on Piedmont Ave. in Oakland, I know he is no exception. 

Alex's shop, Snow White Coffee (formerly Snow White Cleaners) has now been open for a couple of days and already boasts seven 5 star yelp reviews.  And, having visited him in person, I am happy to report he has earned each and every one.  In 4 short months Alex has transformed a cleaners into his very own 400 sq. feet of happiness.  Way to go Alex!

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Until Alex is more settled, you'll have to head across the bridge to hear his booming voice.  I hope you can all go give him a high five and raise a cup of joe in his honor in person.  I hope to see you there!

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

Matt B. is a strong and quiet, yet sassy fellow who shows up with a smile, a high-five (or fist bump) and a good attitude. He is always ready to put in some solid work and he's just a fun guy to have around. Coachable, sometimes goofy and always a good workout buddy to his fellow SWOD crew. I've been a fan of him for quite some time and wanted to give all of you the opportunity to get to know him a little better.

Name: Matt Barker 

Nickname / Alter Ego: I've never really had a nickname...I'll say the one you gave me, Nik - "Matty B."

Hometown: Sarasota, FL

Occupation: Private Wealth Manager

When did you first start CrossFitting?: I like to say in 2014 at UB, because this was the first place I've gone to consistently (and I don't want people to think I've been CrossFitting for too long), but I was sporadic at Redwood City NorCal in 2013 then went to Lalanne for a hot minute before finding UB.

When did you first start CrossFitting at UB?: August of 2014

Favorite WOD: SWOD! Favorite lift is Bench Press

Least Favorite WOD: Snatches...Bulgarian Split Squats make me want to cry

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? A co-worker took me to NorCal as a guest for a workout 

What is an unexpected way CrossFit has affected your life? It's helped put routine in my life and given physical goals to accomplish from time to time. Plus it's allowed me to find a sense of community outside my normal circle of friends and colleagues. 

Fave shower song: Oh man, it depends on the time of day! I'll sing along to the Calvin Harris Pandora Station in the mornings during the week 

Respect Your Neck

Rumor on the street is this has been a tough week of WODding.  How's your body coping?  Any ached or pains?  What about that neglected part of your body on top of your shoulders.....

Neck strain is actually one of the more common injuries athletes face in CrossFit.  Understanding what causes cervical strain and how to prevent is important to the longevity of any CrossFit career.

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The Lifts

While lifting, we place a lot of demands on our body, especially our backs.  To be at your best, not to mention injury free, we tell you to get into position (tight and neutral) and to imagine your spine being replaced with an iron rod.  And all of this happens before you even get the bar off the rack.  But people seem to forget their spines run all the way from your tailbone to your skull.  So even though you worked so hard to get tight to take that big lift, when you look to your coach for support, check on your feet or look to the ceiling for help from above anytime after that bar is on your back(or mid-lift), your neck is in flexion or extension.  This means your strong neutral spine position is lost ... and once a position is lost under load, it can't be reclaimed.

With overhead movements, and kettlebell swings, the strain comes from the top of the lift when an athlete exaggerates the cue "get your head through the window."  Perhaps a more accurate cue would be "squish your face hard against the glass on the window," or simply "put your head back to neutral."   Either way, be careful not to throw your head so far between your arms that you are chicken necking and getting into bad positioning.


Body Weight Movements

Once a WOD begins, it's go time.  You want to get through it, sweat it out, and be done with it.  However, you cannot let this overwhelming desire persuade you to allow your neck to do the reps for you.  That is only a good recipe to strain your neck. On a push up, for example, don't strain your neck forward to get your nose to the ground, keep dropping until your chest hits instead.  On a pull up, keep your head neutral and take the time to pull the extra couple of inches instead of craning your neck to reach your chin over the bar.

A Little Neck TLC

Here is a video to handle some neck issues you might incur from posture faults or strains:

Mini Series: Everything You Need to Know About Recovering - Overview

The following is such an important topic that I am breaking it up for you in digestible bites.  (That's right, I appreciate your limited time and attention span) Welcome to a mini series created from the article published in Juggernaut Training Systems.

In order for training to be effective, an overload must be presented. Training must be chronically harder, longer, and more demanding in some way as it progresses within months, years, and even at the career level. But while hard training is a must, it comes with one major side effect: cumulative fatigue.

Rather than just being synonymous with getting tired and out of breath after training, cumulative fatigue is composed of the additive effect of the little depletions, disruptions, and microtears that don’t heal 100% with each week of training. [...]

In order for productive training to continue, fatigue must be managed by not getting too high too often, and being brought down when it does.[...] Managing your fatigue by non-training mediators can meaningfully improve performance and extend the length of time you actually spend training and progressing versus just trying to recover so you can even train at all.

On the other end of the spectrum, making poor choices in the non-training realm can not only prohibit a recovery advantage, but it can downright halt training progress. 

Got your attention?  Tune in next week to follow up with the first and most powerful fatigue reducer: Sleep.  Got questions?  Talk to your coach about your recovery routine.