Did you enjoy watching the games? What were your take aways? Chet Morjaria of Breaking Muscle had three great lessons to share. Enjoy!

I am guilty of seeing everything in life as a learning experience. The CrossFit Games is no exception. When I watch the men and women compete at the Games, I am observing, soaking it in, enjoying the incredible spectacle - and learning.

Sometimes the learning doesn't strike me straight away. I enjoy reading articles by the Breaking Muscle coaches about their perspective on the Games and all that surrounds it. From these articles three lessons emerge. We can apply these lessons right back to our lives and training.

Lesson #1: Build a Better Version of Yourself

This lesson is about self-improvement. Stand still, and you will quickly be surpassed by someone working harder and building themselves to be better. To remain at the top year after year means you need to continually get better. Sometimes, getting better at something is simply about getting it done. Swimming coach Hannah Caldas, in Swimming and the CrossFit Games: Why Is It Everyone's Weak Link?, gave advice in this regard:

"So the real advice here is DO IT. Get in the pool, the lake, the ocean, or the bathtub. (Yes, you can actually practice breathing drills in the bathtub.) Whatever you do, just do it. Learn to be comfortable in water so you can advance to other skills that may make your water experience less daunting."

But corrective exercise expert Jeff Kuhland believes this idea of continuous betterment is about more than getting it done. He believes improvement needs to pursued by means of a more scientific method, rather than simply a desire to get better. In his article What All Athletes Can Learn From the 2013 CrossFit Games, he stated:

This idea of continuous improvement is becoming more accessible to athletes everywhere as we have a greater ability to record our workouts and progress. Computer programs allow us to track distance, heart rate, total weight lifted, percentage changes, and much more. Continuous improvement is well established in the business and engineering world for a good reason, it is the only way to stay on top and relevant. Essentially you constantly evaluate your process (training), look for way to improve it, and then measure your results. Too many people want to compete simply show up to workouts and do what everyone else does.

When testing yourself at the CrossFit Games, its easy to put yourself in the mindset that today is the only thing that matters. Ben Stoneberg, a formidable CrossFit Games athlete, has a wider pespective. CrossFit Coach Michelle Baumann, in her article Ben Stoneberg: Headed for the CrossFit Games and Having Fun, quoted Ben:

It makes me happy to know that I gave it my best effort, and even if I don’t make a lift or I don’t feel the best that day, I know that there’s always tomorrow. I think that if I can do this good on this day, then I’m sure I can get better the next time I do it.

Learning from the Games

Lesson #2: Relax

This lesson is about learning to be in the moment and have fun. Ben Stoneberg explained to Michelle Baumann how important it is to relax and enjoy the process, not just for now but for health and sanity in the long term:

You can’t compare yourself to people like Rich Froning because you’ll just get frustrated,” he says. “You have to focus on yourself and what your weaknesses are. It’s all about dedication, staying healthy, and having fun. Having fun is the biggest part, if I didn’t have fun, I wouldn’t be doing this.

Here at Breaking Muscle, my Managing Editor has one main rule, and it spills over into all aspects of life - "no stress." In Third Time’s the Charm: Going to the CrossFit Games, games masters veteran Patrick McCarty confirmed that less stress is the key to a relaxed and productive approach:

In 2013, my approach was 100% focus and dedication to making it to Carson, which resulted in 100% stress. I made it, but found that I was had less fun than I actually had hoped at the Games. This year, my goal was to get as strong and as fit as I possibly could, and if I made it to the Games, great. If not, great.

When you manage to relax into the moment, it can make for a magical experience. Many of you will recognize this as being "in the zone." This mindset leads to the incredible feats of human strength and fitness we see in the CrossFit Games. Jeff Kuhland expanded on this in his article What All Athletes Can Learn From the 2013 CrossFit Games:

CrossFit and competition in your sport requires mental focus that puts you in the zone. It is one of the few times in life where everything else can fade away. You become so enthralled in the event that the noise quiets and no one else is there. There is a special place that exists for athletes when you are truly in the moment - it all fades away, you get tunnel vision, and your performance skyrockets. This is what most athletes are in search of and it only comes as a reward of consistent hard work over a long time, allowing you the conditioning to dig deep.

unitedbarbell.com

Lesson #3: Put It All in Perspective

This lesson is about not only being in the moment, but being able to see the bigger picture. This is about being reflective, not just after the event, but also leading into and during it.

Key to the ability to relaxing into the process is the ability to put it all in perspective. In his Athlete Journal: Pat McCarty, Entry 20 - 7/17/2013, Patrick McCarty discussed the importance of putting your hard work into perspective:

I have done everything I can do, that is within my control, to go to the Games and achieve my goal – that is, to make it to the final day of competition. No brainer, right?

Wrong.

Why? Because first of all, everything I have just listed above is likely being done in mirror-image fashion by the nineteen other competitors in my bracket. And the one thing I cannot control is them. I may be able to state my goal of making the finals, but this goal involves many factors outside of my control - the other competitors, the workouts, the judging, even the weather.

For many, perspective will happen after the event. For Patrick, having this clarity before the CrossFit Games is essential. What does this all actually mean? Is it worth risking everything for? His article Some Pre-CrossFit Games Reflections From Carson explained the reality well:

Now, don’t take this as a lack of gratitude or appreciation for being here. I am having the time of my life this week and I worked really hard to get here. But the fact remains, when putting the CrossFit Games Masters Division in laser-focus perspective there is nothing at stake here for the great majority of us. A few sponsorships, a little press, but on Monday most of us will go back to our day jobs as lawyers, web developers, coaches, and parents. We’ll go back to getting college tuitions scraped together, mowing the grass, and living life.

The Take-Away

Jeff Kuhland provided us with a few words that summarize all of this perfectly, in his piece What All Athletes Can Learn From the 2013 CrossFit Games. It's the kind of thing I can imagine written on the wall of a CrossFit box, for athletes to see, read, and consider on a daily basis:

So what now? Take a view of where you are and where you want to be. Set a plan, perform at all times, live in the moment, compete on the stage, and recover hard. Become who you want to be today there will never be a better time.

Tuesday's WOD

1 Clean + 1 Hang Clean

Build to a Heavy 1 + 1

Every Minute on the Minute for 12 Minutes:

Odd: Max Plate Rear Lunges (45# | 35#)>
Even:12 Plate Situps

The Barbell WOD

Sunday, July 27 2014 Posted by Jenny Werba

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Whether you spent the weekend at United Barbell learning Oly from the Grandfather of Weightlifting and the California Strength team or glued to the television watching the CrossFit Games, we hope you spent the weekend getting fired up to get back in the gym, set some goals and get to work!

As you look over your goals, ask yourself "Are you taking advantage of UB to your best ability?" If you want to get better at gymnastics - are you going to open gym and asking? If you want to be more mobile, are you coming to the gym early, or taking advantage of coach Kristin's "mobility express" on Friday nights? If you want to work on other skills, are you getting the extra time and attention you need?

We want to give you all as much support as possible in achieving your goals. With this in mind, we are proud to be announcing our partnership with California Strength in releasing The Barbell WOD Hour.

BBWOD

For those of you who have been researching a separate strength program and feel a little overwhelmed by all the options out there, the Barbell WOD is a 1 hour, 3x/week holistic strength program developed for CrossFitters. The program is periodized around the CrossFit competitive calendar (Open, Regionals, Games) and is meant to simultaneously develop foundational squat and pressing strength while also developing competency and strength in Olympic lifting. This programming is meant to enhance your current CrossFit regimen while focusing your strength training. While we are not creating a Barbell WOD class, we are creating an informal BarbellWOD Hour and releasing the structure this week. If you want access, the program is online -- complete with online lift/workout tracking, community forums and soon there will also video analysis from some of power and Oly's finest instructors (who wouldn't want their squats watched by Mr. Mark Bell himself?!). Have we peaked your interest? The site goes live this afternoon at 2 ... Check it out!

Monday's WOD

7 Rounds:

- 20 Double Unders
- 12 Kettle Bell Swings
- 6 Strict Handstand Pushups
- 200m Run

Strength Workout Of The Day

Back Squat

3x5 85%

Foot Elevated Split Squats

3x8-10

Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deads

2x20


Saturday/Sunday WOD - 830 AM ONLY

Friday, July 25 2014 Posted by Jenny Werba

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PLEASE NOTE: There is only a supersized 8:30AM class today and tomorrow. All other classes are canceled for the CalStrength Olympic Lifting Seminar. Thank you for your understanding and we hope to see you there!

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Is that a firework burpee? ... Or are you just happy it's morning...

SUNDAY'S WOD

Coaches Choice!

Aka, "Wong's Suprise!"

The 2014 CrossFit Games

Thursday, July 24 2014 Posted by Jenny Werba

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As you come in today to get your dead lifts on, remember to check in to the 2014 CrossFit Games. The WODs have been made, the finalists have packed their compression gear and are awaiting their "go" signal today -- in fact, for the competitors are already one day in! Check out the schedule of events, and log in to ESPN3 to watch the whole weekend live, or watch on your TV on ESPN 6-7 today and ESPN2 5-7 Saturday and Sunday! If you have been sleeping on the job and want to catch up on what you've missed, check out the live footage archive and see your favorite games masters, individual and team athletes throw down. Who are you rooting for?

CrossFit Games - Masters

Friday's WOD

Deadlift

3x3

Partner WOD

- 50 Front Rack Kettlebell Step Ups
(Partner in Hold Elbow Plank)
- 800 Meter Row
(Partner in Overhead Plate Hold)
- 50 KB Cleans
(Partner in Chin over Bar Hold)
-400m Run

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

Wednesday, July 23 2014 Posted by Jenny Werba

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This week's awesome comes to class with enthusiasm, an appetite for learning, and a side of sassy east coast flair. She is the first to come in in the mornings (if the buses are on time), and the last to leave after class. She's not just hanging around, Courtney means business... the business of becoming a CrossFit badass.

Courtney has been setting goals for herself since she joined UB. She works diligently to tick them off one by one... kipping pull ups? Check. Strict pull ups? Check. Better mobility? Check. But what's great about our heroine of the week is she never settles. There is always a new goal to reach - that's why you'll find her spending her weekend at the California Strength Seminar instead of soaking in summer "sunlight." She even got shiny new oly shoes and knee sleeves to prep! As long as she's got something to say about it, nothing will get between this lady and CrossFit rockstar status.

Courtney is one dedicated chica, and all I have to say is keep chipping away lady! Your an inspiration to us all!

Buddy Carry
Only a rockstar does buddy carries in heels!
...CrossFit, bringing fun poses to couples since 2001.

THURSDAY's WOD

- Ritch Loop

- 30 Burpee Box Jump Up n Overs (24"|20)
- 50 Knees to Elbow
- 30 Burpee Slam Balls Run
- Ritch Loop

Strength Workout Of The Day

Back Squat

10x3 (75-80%)

in any order for quality

- 100 Banded Good Mornings
- 50 Weighted GHD Back Ext (25# | 15#)
30 Heavy WB (30# | 20#)


Coachability

Tuesday, July 22 2014 Posted by Jenny Werba

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Let's play a little mental experiment. Imagine ... You are in the middle of a WOD. You can feel the lactic acid creeping in and your form starts to break down - but you keep plowing through. Cue your coach - they tell you "reset your back!" "knees out!" or "head position!" Now for the important question: how do you react? Do you listen or do you just keep moving for the sake of finishing with a faster time despite poorer mechanics, performance and safety risks? Do you take a moment to hear what is being said, or do you get angry and frustrated at the coach for interrupting you? What ever it is, your reaction is a measure of your coachability.

Coachability
Want to get better? Don't take corrections and cues personally.

For those of you who don't make the corrections, you might be thinking: "I want to be faster & I want to win, so just keep moving." Maybe you are thinking "it hurts so bad, just get through it." Or perhaps it is as simple as "I can't calm my body/mind down enough to listen," But before you commit yourself to these mentalities - let's look at the consequences:

  • Safety: This is the most obvious. We coaches are trying to help you achieve your goals in an orthopedically safe manner. We have your best interest in mind. If you choose to ignore your coach, you are potentially putting yourself at risk of injury.
  • Bad habits die hard: Movement is built on repetition. If you do 5 perfect deadlifts during a warmup but do 30 poor form deadlifts during a WOD - which do you think your body will remember? (Keep in mind your habits will then determine the positions, postures, and movements you adopt outside of CrossFit)
  • Performance: Our goal as coaches is to teach you perfect form, and then challenge your capacity to maintain it under change - such as load or high intensity. Performance is your ability to do exactly that. If you slop your way though to the finish, you are not only missing out on the physical benefits of doing an exercise right, but you are missing the point all together.

All of that sounds pretty bad, right? Well here's the good news: coachability is a mental and physical skill. It is another layer of technique. Once you become aware of it and put in the effort to improve it, you will allow us to more effectively give you the tools you need to become the rockstar athlete you want to be.

Wednesday's WOD

Hang Squat Snatch

3RM

"Meet your Maker"

5-4-3-2-1
"Beast Makers" (...think man makers but "beastlier")
30 Double Unders

Food For Thought: Spicy Tuna Cakes

Monday, July 21 2014 Posted by Jenny Werba

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Spicy Tuna Cakes
Recipe from nom nom paleo.

Spicy Tuna Cakes

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons melted ghee, divided
  • 10 ounces canned albacore tuna packed in water, drained
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 1/3 cup mashed baked sweet potato
  • finely grated zest from 1/2 medium lemon
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeño pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium lemons, cut into wedges (optional)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and use a brush to grease a 12-cup regular sized muffin tin with one tablespoon of melted ghee.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the tuna, scallions, and cilantro. Add the mashed sweet potato to the tuna mixture, and gently combine.
  • Then, mix in the lemon zest, jalapeño, the remaining two tablespoons of ghee, eggs, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • (Not sure if you’ve added enough S&P? Take a small portion and fry up a little pancake to see if the seasoning is right!)
  • I use my hands to mix everything together because that way I can make sure that the fish chunks aren’t overly broken up.
  • Scoop a quarter cup of the mixture into each greased muffin tin cup and flatten with the back of a spoon.
  • Bake the tuna cakes for 20-25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out cleanly.
  • Transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool. The easiest way I’ve found to get them out is to put the wire rack on top of the muffin tin ...flip everything upside-down, and tap them gently on the counter. Voila!
  • Grab a lemon wedge and squeeze some juice on your tuna cake before your pop it in your mouth.
  • Alternatively, store them in the fridge, and when you’re ready to eat, skillet-fry the cakes in some melted fat over medium heat. Crisp the edges, and you’re good to go.

Tuesday's WOD

Tabata Gone Bad

tabata:
- Row (calories)
- Wall Balls
- V- Ups
- Pistols
one minute rest between exercises

USAW National Championships - RESULTS

Sunday, July 20 2014 Posted by Jenny Werba

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This weekend was a great demonstration of power and athleticism. The USAWeightlifting world brought out their A game this weekend with several weight classes having epic battles for the gold down to the last lift. Many many records were broken and many PRs were set. Personally, I experienced a new sense of team and vision for the sport that left me inspired and hungry for more weight on the bar!

For those of you who got to see it, I hope you were equally inspired! And if you weren't excited enough for this weekends Olympic Weightlifting Seminar with California Strength -- now you get to be taught by national 2 time national champions and 2014 nationals medalists!

Here are the results from your favorite lifters!

UB Coaches

Coach Jenny 19th place (Snatch - 73k (161#); Clean and Jerk - 85k (187#); Total - 158 (348.33))
Coach Kristin 10th place (Snatch - 83k (182#); Clean and Jerk - 105k (231#); Total - (414#))

Some of Your New Friends from the California Strength Team

Rita Benvenidez 11th place (Snatch - 75k (165#); Clean and Jerk - 97k (213#); Total - 172 (379#))
Nicole Lim 6th place (Snatch - 57k (125# ); Clean and Jerk - 77k (169#); Total - 134 (295))
Rob Blackwell 2nd place (Snatch - 145k (319#); Clean and Jerk - 160k (352#); Total - 305 (672))
Spencer Morman 1st place (Snatch - 154k (339#); Clean and Jerk - 192k (423#); Total - 346 (762))

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Monday's WOD

Push Press

3 x 3

3 Rounds:

- 25 Ring Pushups
- 15 Pullups
- 10 Sumo Deadlift High Pull (115# | 75#)

Strength Workout Of The Day

Tempo Bench Press

3x5

3x3

Weighted Dips

10-8-6-4-4

Incline Dumbbell Pullovers

5x8

Dumbbell Oblique Twists

- 2x5
- 3x2
- 20 Rep Drop Set

Dumbbell Front Squats

4x12

Good Mornings

4x12

100 Bandy Side Steps


Sunday Inspiration - Check Out Colleen

Saturday, July 19 2014 Posted by Jenny Werba

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Want to know what it is like to be a Regionals athlete? Sevan Matossian asks NorCal Regional athletes about their training methods.... Colleen is in there twice!

SUNDAY'S WOD

Partner Wod:

- 40 Power Cleans (135# | 75#)
- 200m Run with Slam Ball (50# | 35#)
- 30 Power Cleans (155# | 95#)
- 200m Run with Slam Ball
- 20 Power Cleans (175# | 115#)
- 200m Run with Slam Ball

Saturday WOD

Friday, July 18 2014 Posted by Jenny Werba

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Did you figure out who was in last week's Saturday blog photo?

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Congrats on your engagement Tao Tao! We are so happy we got to be a part of your engagement shoot!

SATURDAY'S WOD

Turkish Get Ups

5RM

5 Rounds:

- 2 KB/DB Walking Lunges
- 60s Max Calorie Row

Strength Workout Of The Day

SWOD Surprise!