Movie Night @ UB!

You may have noticed a new piece of equipment in the gym. No, it's not for getting your swole on, but for getting your relax on - our new projector! Social time with your WOD buddies is sorely needed, and what better than dragging your camping chair into the cathedral of sweat for a movie?

We'd love to know what you'd like to see - let us know below and when we reach critical mass, we'll let you know what we're going to screen and when!

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.

Vote! UB's Next T-Shirt

Thanks to all the athletes that provided entries into the t-shirt competition! Now it's time to vote. Choose your top 3 below!

Name *

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

When I say the words "strong like ox," there's probably a few UB athletes that pop into your mind. We have an entire stable full of strength-biased athletes, and this man definitely falls into that category. He squats a whole lot, and probably out-deadlifts you by an order of magnitude.

Sass, or Ryan if you're feeling fancy, has only been with us since October, but since his onramp he has been a dedicated member of the morning crew, surprising us recently when he showed up for a noon class during a work-from-home day. Sass may not be the fastest runner, and burpees may not be his favorite, but he never shies away from the dreaded cardio, instead embracing the suck and making sure he completes every singe rep. DNF means nothing to this strong man.

I love seeing Sass work on his weaknesses while thoroughly enjoying the benefits of his strength. It's awesome to see his humble approach to bettering himself and the gainz he reaps as his rewards. Sass - you are awesome!

GQ Sass


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.

New class: Barbell WOD

It's no secret why there are two shots of UB athletes on the front page of Barbell WOD's website. UB totally loves BBWOD. We'd marry it if we could. We love that it provides a program that complements our regular CrossFit classes, allowing us to get strong and work on our Oly in a structured manner alongside the UB programming we know and love.

If you've been plugging away alone in the back room, trying to update your TrainHeroic profile in the WiFi deadspot, take heart:

We will offer a weekly Barbell WOD class on Thursdays from 5pm - 6:30pm beginning September 3rd!

We're so excited about this class - and it isn't just for those who have been following Barbell WOD, it is suitable for any and all UB members!  

The class will be coached by two of the most amazing beasts in the Olympic weightlifting and CrossFit worlds:

Spencer Moorman

2 time National Champion, 2015 Silver Medalist, World Team member, and man-bun extraordinaire, Spencer comes to us direct from the source, Cal Strength. It's not possible to bring anything but your A-game in Spencer's vicinity. Spencer will be teaching the first few sessions before it is taken over by none other than...

Colleen Fotsch

Colleen is a certified badass, having come from a elite-level competitive swimming background and (seemingly) effortlessly transitioning into the world of CrossFit. In 2015 she competed in and took 22nd place at the CrossFit Games Regionals in the hyper-competitive California region.

Currently, Colleen competes on the Grid with the San Francisco Fire team as well as serving as a strength & conditioning coach at UC Berkeley. She also has a reputation at UB for inspiring PRs with her presence alone, earning her the nickname "The PR Fairy."

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.

Another Article for Mom and Pop

I know I have posted a few articles with some inspiring seniors, but senior athletes are absolutely awesome and inspiring... and this article about Charles Eugester is no different! 

Meet Charles Eugster, Britain's fastest nonagenarian

At 96 years old, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this retired dentist's sporting days were behind him. However, multiple athletic records, global weightlifting titles and 36 World Rowing Masters medals tell a different story

Dr Charles Eugster, a 96-year old retired dentist with dual British/Swiss nationality, is a changed man.

96-year old Charles Eugster is competing for the 100m indoor world title today in Lyons

96-year old Charles Eugster is competing for the 100m indoor world title today in Lyons

Nine years ago, his body was deteriorating badly, he was overweight and short of breath – to put it another way, his body was winding down. But Eugster fought back and now, almost a decade on, he is leading a pensioner revolution with a new lease of life.

Born in London in 1919, Eugster was educated at St Paul's School for Boys and discovered early on that he had an aptitude for sport over studies. "I did my best to excel at sports because I knew that I could not excel academically," Eugster tells me. "My teacher once said, 'Eugster, if your brain were to be put into the skull of a sparrow it would rattle'."

Despite wanting to pursue a career as a physician, Eugster was advised to settle for something a little less educationally rigorous. He decided on dentistry, which whilst still demanding, was considered an easier choice. As the 96-year old says, "it is easier; after all, there are only so many teeth".

Charles only began running a little under two years ago

Charles only began running a little under two years ago

96-year-old sets two new British sprinting records

After amassing four degrees from four universities, the young Eugster opened a dental practice in Switzerland, married, had children and settled down. Other than the odd swim or ski, his life considerably slowed down. "While I wasn’t exactly a couch potato, I just became an average person with regards to exercising."

During his time studying in London, Eugster had often rowed at the Thames Rowing Club. So when, at 63, he discovered an over-60s category for rowers, his past interest in the sport was rekindled. "I began competing in the World Masters Rowing Regattas and I was able to accumulate, I think, around 40 gold medals".

But then the trouble began. "I had the unpleasant experience of, how should I put it, ‘losing my breath’ in a rowing race in Poland – something which I discovered later didn’t have anything to do with my breathing – but had to do with heart arrhythmia."

Over the next decade or so, Eugster's body became less robust, weakened by age, but this was a fight he was determined not to lose. The man who had beaten tuberculosis and a considerable lung cavity in earlier life was not about to let his slower lifestyle pull the rug out from under him. So he came up with a plan – one he recounts to me in the coolest of voices, as if it was the most natural solution in the world. "Being extremely vain, I wanted to rebuild my body. So, at the age of 87, I joined a bodybuilding club and hired a former Mr Universe as my coach – who rather frightened me, actually."

Charles in the gym with coach Sylvia Gattiker

Charles in the gym with coach Sylvia Gattiker

Overtraining syndrome: five signs you need to take it easy

Eugster became Britain's oldest bodybuilder, but the risks remained. Training in your advanced years, he tells me, is a meticulous science.

"What people do not realise is that if you do endurance training such as walking or cycling – which is often recommended for older people – that does not combat sarcopenia, which is a loss of muscle mass, loss of power, loss of strength. So as my rowing was just an endurance sport, despite the fact that I was training six days a week, my body deteriorated. And now we know that in order to be physically active in old age, you must do muscle training – and I don’t just mean resistance training, I mean hypertrophy training – which means training the muscles to exhaustion or failure."

The nonagenarian informs me of the importance of protein supplements and a growth-stimulating amino acid called leucine. He explains how little muscle older people possess, and that ingesting supplements is the only way to regain the mass you have lost. "Now," begins Eugster, "did you know that from the age of about 50, everybody loses around one to two per cent of muscle mass every year? So that by the time you’re 85 or so, you might have lost up to 50 per cent of your muscles."

With weightlifting and intensive interval training now part of Eugster's daily routine, his muscles have returned in force. His newest passion however, is running.

"It was last year, in August that – for the very first time in my life – I decided to do some sprinting. Now, you must realise, that at school I was a hopeless runner. In cricket, for example, I was always the wicket keeper because I was so slow and in rugby I was always the full-back so I didn’t have to run so much and, of course, rowing was ideal because I didn’t have to run at all.

"But I decided that I should start something completely new, because I wanted to show that it is possible in old age to start something new – even if you’ve never displayed a talent for it before."

"I have managed to chalk up a few records" says Charles

"I have managed to chalk up a few records" says Charles

Over the past two years, Eugster has burst onto the over-95s sprinting scene on the Masters Athletics circuit, breathing new life into the class and his competition. His heart has settled down, and some of his grey hairs, he says, are even growing out brown again. Today will see the 96-year old try to secure one more record for his collection at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Lyon.

"It’s the indoor 100m and I’m in the 95+ age group," he enthuses, "and I’m running against the holder of the world record – and in my mind I’m expecting to be thrashed. But I’m certainly going to do everything I can to give him a run for his money."

Charles Eugster's optimism and tenacity truly shines through. His drive and ambition for someone of his age is outstanding: he tells me that "in the future, I think I'd like to try the 400m" – a statement of complete sincerity from the near-centenarian.

Watch: 95-year-old Charles Eugster breaks 200 metre sprint record

"The point is that what most people of 70, 80 or even 90 don’t seem to realise that you can completely rebuild your body at any age and you can start a new life at any age. The only problem is that at the current time nobody seems to offer retraining for older people. You see, what is happening now is people believe you can expect so many healthy years, and so many dependency years – which most people think start around 60 or 65. So what’s happening is as we get older and older and older, we are not adding healthy years, but rather dependency years. And that is killing us, both physically and financially."

Charles says he is living proof that anyone can roll back the years by keeping fit with muscle training

Charles says he is living proof that anyone can roll back the years by keeping fit with muscle training

Eugster has no time for those who lie down and accept the ageing process without a fight. He is constantly seeking new ways to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, and his views on the matter almost amount to a manifesto. "From my point of view," he almost bellows, "retirement is a financial disaster and health catastrophe. We must get rid of retirement, we must re-educate older people so they can get new jobs and rebuild their bodies so they can start new lives. And it is possible!"

It's hard to argue with that, when the man himself is living proof.

Lift Up Autism

1 in 88 children is affected by autism.  Chances are, you know someone affected by it.  One week after the Ultimate Lift Off, help us raise awareness and money for early detection and treatment of Austism.  It is not required to raise money to participate, but it will be the workout of the day on September 19th.


Two years ago, on October 19, 2013 Josh Everett, TrainHeroic, and the more than 350 boxes in the CrossFit community rallied together in spectacular fashion to support the Autism community in a worldwide workout event called Lift Up Luke. This "competition for a cause" specifically sought to support early diagnosis and treatment of Autism, raise funds for the Autism Tree Project Foundation in San Diego, and most importantly, turn a global spotlight on the measured and severe impact of Autism on families and individuals around the world.

This year, we're upping the ante and doubling down our efforts to take the impact of the event to another level.

And with your help, we can double the impact.

On September 19th, 2015 we’re rebooting the event under the more inclusive name of “Lift Up Autism” and calling athletes and coaches everywhere to mobilize around this cause.

This year, we're working to bring 500+ Boxes, 7500+ Athletes, and 50 countries around the world together for a day of community, awareness, and action.

We hope to see you there!  Sign up now to contribute!

The 2015 Ultimate Lift Off

The ULTIMATE LIFT OFF is coming! Bring your gains and get ready to rumble!  It's UB's 5th year of getting our super totals on (Snatch, Clean & Jerk, Squat, Bench, Deadlift).  Who's game?


Here's how the event works gonna work:

  • You will have 20 minutes to find your maximum per lift
  • You will have 3 attempts at your heaviest weight for each lift.
  • You will perform all the lifts in order: snatch, clean and jerk, back squat, bench press, and deadlift. To participate in the competition, you must attempt all five lifts.
  • Heats will start in groups of 4 every 20 minutes. If you are late, you cannot lift.
  • Your score will be calculated by Sinclair for your Oly lifts and Wilks formula (each lift by pounds lifted to body weight) for your power lifts. You will be weighed in 20 minutes before your heat.
  • A complete list of rules (including the requirements for each lift) will be posted Friday in the gym along with the start list.
  • To secure your spot please do both of the following
    • #1 - Click here to sign up
    • #2 - Click here to fill out our maxes sheet to help us best match you for your heat.

This competition is for UB members only, so if you are new to competing this is a great opportunity to get a taste in a supportive environment surrounded by your fellow athletes.

Space is limited to 48 competitors, so make sure to sign up now!

We will also need volunteer refs for the day!  Please comment if you can judge for a heat or two.  Thanks!!

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

A recent transplant to San Francisco, Farrah B's a relatively new fixture in the AM classes. This bad-ass landed at UB and immediately began impressing coaches and community alike with her trademark tenacity and positive attitude.

Did you know this week's Awesome has traveled all over the World and lived in Brazil? She's seriously prepared for the unknown and un-knownable --- this Princeton grad competed as a club lacrosse athlete in college and also worked the turntables as a DJ.

Don't make the mistake of overlooking this powerhouse in Tiger gear. What Farrah lacks in stature, she more than makes up for in intensity. Keep up the Awesome, Farrah --- we're happy you chose UB!

Your Newest Ambassadors

If you haven't been to one of our anniversary parties, you may not be aware of a very important tradition.  Each year we name one male and female our ambassadors of awesome.  These are individuals who have shown up over the last year.  They are consistent in attendance.  They are active in the community.  They exemplify our vision of what we wanted to create for people when we opened UB. 

So who was our 5th year's awesome lady and gent?  Let's take a moment to celebrate Hayley and Chris C.

Our Ambassadors got demonbell kettlebells to commemorate the occasion.

Our Ambassadors got demonbell kettlebells to commemorate the occasion.


It won't surprise you that Hayley has been dedicated from the start.  What might surprise you is that Hayley took some convincing to put some weight on her bar.  Hayley is consistent, coachable, courageous, determined, passionate, and brings out the best of those around her.  She will be your partner in class, your teammate in a competition, or just simply be your competition in class (with a smile and laugh) -- whatever the situation calls for.  Her determination is inspiring ladies and gents alike.  She is the kind of woman who declares all she wanted for her birthday was a muscle up - and then does the work to get it (3 days before her birthday)!  Since we've known her, Hayley has grown as an athlete, community member, and individual.  And what's exciting to us is her dedication to continue growing. 

Hayley's 5th Muscle Up


If you've been in a room with Mr. Comma, you probably knew it by the sound of his echoing laughter.  Chris is the kind of person who puts 100% passion into everything he does.  UB is no different.  Chris has made a point to not only join our community, but to entrench himself with all things UB.  He is the first to cheer you on in a WOD and assure you you can do it all day.  He is the first to strike up a conversation with a nervous looking newbie and assure them the coaches will go easy on them.  He is probably even the guy that gave you your CrossFit nickname.  His love for all things "CrahssFit" is inspiring and catching (you've seen us refer to his mom more than once!).   This man might be the king of nicknames, but it's clear to us how he earned the name "the governor."

We hope these two inspire you just as much as they do us!  Want to be a UB Ambassador?  Bring on your A Game!

Food for Thought: The 4 Most Common Injuries for Lifters And How To Prevent Them


Here's what you need to know...

  1. The rate of shoulder injuries rises with excessive reps, excessive machine use, and often bodybuilding-style programming.
  2. Lower back injuries increase when flexing or extending the lower back under heavy loads. Keep the spine neutral.
  3. Knee injuries are high when the knees don't track properly throughout the lifts. Keep the knees from collapsing inward if you want them to be healthy.
  4. Upper back and neck injuries occur with poor posture. Fix a hunched over back to prevent cervical spine injuries.

 Below I excerpted #3 - the knees.  But if you want to read about any (and you should!) check out the original post on T-Nation here.

#3  Knee Injury

Most assume the knee is highly injurious. There is some truth to this joint being more vulnerable than others due to its anatomical properties and orientation relative to the ankle and hip complexes.

But there's more to the story.

First, the structure of the knee joint is very immobile by nature, as it is a hinge joint with only two true degrees of freedom, meaning it only moves into flexion and extension.

Less relative motion from the knee in combination with poor gross movement through joints that are supposed to be highly mobile – like the many synergistic joints of the ankle complex in addition to the ball and socket type hip joint – put undue stress over non-contractile tissues like ligaments and cartilage.

This kink in the kinetic chain is most notable for lifters in quad-dominant movements like squat and lunge variations.

While global instability of the knee joint may be a chicken-or-the-egg argument with the co-morbid factors like stiff and immobile joints above and below the level of the knee, many chronic natured injuries also become symptomatic over the front side of the knee at the patella.

Increased tone and tightness through the quads can increase compressional and shear forces through the kneecap, causing increased rates of patella-femoral friction and irritation.

Functionally shortened and stiff quads in combination with poor patellar movement is exacerbated with poor squat mechanics such as anteriorly drifting knees and valgus drop, and also in lunge-type movements when the knee joint is forced into terminal flexion.

If this sounds like a pretty big problem that most lifters need to address, it is. Pay attention, this simple cue below can clean up your movement and give those pissed-off knees just enough of a break to recover for good.

Prevent It

Pay attention to knee tracking. There are loads of different lower body movements that involve both the squat and lunge variations.

Though each movement is unique and has many important factors to execute crisp, clean reps, starting off with an appreciation for where your knee should be positioned relative to your foot can clean up even the most pitiful form pretty quickly.

When reaching the bottom position for both the squat and lunge, the patella should be tracking over the lateral aspect of the foot.

Some coaches teach these movements with the knee directly over the midline of the foot, but I have seen this cue fall apart in terms of mechanics of motion many times.

By targeting the midline of your kneecap to track directly over your pinkie toe, the glutes and hamstrings are able to be targeted with just enough torque and spiral tension loading that the unwanted valgus collapse and anterior knee translation is minimized almost automatically.