Register for the 2019 House Cup

Let the Games begin!  .... Ok, just because CrossFit HQ won’t open registration for the first of two 2019 CrossFit Opens until January 10th, but that doesn't mean we can't get ready.  How you ask?  By preparing for United Barbell's 4th Annual House Cup!


For our newer members, the House Cup is a gym wide team competition interlaced with the CrossFit Open.  Participants are divided into 3 teams.  Teams win points by participating in the 5 CrossFit Open workouts, showing team spirit, and by being all-around awesome.  The events start February 22rd and take place over 5 weeks:

  • 19.1- Feb. 21-25

  • 19.2- Feb. 28 - March 4

  • 19.3- March 7-11

  • 19.4- March 14-18

  • 19.5- March 21-25

The team draft will be happening in just a couple weeks, so make sure to register ASAP! 

Want to join in for 5 weeks of a gym-wide extravaganza of fun and competition? Sign up below ASAP!  

Doing the Open the Open Way

I have heard a lot of hesitation around the CrossFit Open Scaled Division.  After hearing the questions and concerns of many of our athletes, I think it's time we have a heart to heart. 

The scaled division was created to make the Open inclusive.  No, it was not just for you who are almost at that RX weight, or almost have that muscle up.  It was made to be inclusive of the CrossFitters out there who are still working to get a double under and those who still need assistance on pull ups.  There is one scaled division (made to make comparing yourself to a world of other CrossFitters simpler).  This left those in the middle dissatisfied.  Sound familiar?  Let's chat.

If you are one of the people who feel RX is "pushing it" but scaled feels "too easy" here is my advice based on your particular questions/concerns:

"But I almost have a ___"

If you can do all the workout but 1 movement, and are close to being able to achieve that movement, please consult a coach.

"But the scaled version is TOO EASY"

I would like to answer this one with a story.  Lisa S. is one of our level 2 athletes who completed the open 100% in the scaled division last year while being 8 months pregnant.  She ended up taking 6th in the region in the scaled division.  I asked her if she thought the scaled version was easy.  Here was her response.  "Yes, the movements are more simple than the RX division.  But that means more reps and a harder workout.  You have to push yourself.  It's a different kind of workout than the RX division." 

"I would rather do a hybrid of the Scaled and RX"

We are not allowing this for the open.  Why?  IF you decided to do a hybrid, it invalidates your score completely.  That's right.  Your score won't count for the open NOR will it count towards the House Cup.  Check your ego.  Do the scaled version.

"But I'm not participating in the Open"

See above.  No matter which workout you do, it will be a good workout!

Food for Thought: How To Succeed In Your First CrossFit Open

Is this your first CrossFit Open?  Maybe it's even your first time competing in a CrossFit context?  Here are some sage words of wisdom from Breaking Muscle.

Participating in your first CrossFit Games Open is the ultimate learning experience.

Beginners to CrossFit should relish in the fact that they can’t check the leaderboard for their scores from past years. For this one year, ignorance is bliss. Work hard, have fun, and learn what the Open is all about because you only have one first time.

Here are five ways to make the most of your experience:

1. Ignore the Clock

The fastest way to get discouraged during a workout is to focus on the clock. We’ve all been there: four minutes into a fifteen-minute AMRAP and suddenly we’re questioning how we’re ever going to survive the rest of the WOD. 

Wasting your time looking at the clock isn’t doing you any favors. The time melts away at the same speed regardless of how often you check. So stop dilly-dallying and just do the work.

"By shifting your focus away from the clock, you can dedicate 100% of your effort to achieving your goal. If there’s time left once you’re at your target, the rest is gravy."

Since 2011, every Open workout has been an AMRAP except for last year’s dreaded thruster-burpee descending ladder (which I predict we’ll see as this year’s repeat workout). So, if history repeats itself, it’s safe to say the Open will be a mix of short and long AMRAPs.

With that in mind, the best approach for a beginner to avoid getting overwhelmed is to pick a realistic number of rounds to complete and forget about the time constraint. Just focus on the task at hand and fight to hit your number.

By shifting your focus away from the clock, you can dedicate 100% of your effort to achieving your goal. If there’s time left once you’re at your target, the rest is gravy.


2. Avoid Playing Games

If this is your first CrossFit Open, you might hear conversations among fellow CrossFitters that go something like this: “Dude, step ups are faster than box jumps. I totally timed it.”

But you know what? Who cares? Go ahead and watch the dozens of strategy videos that inevitably pop up after each workout is announced, but don’t let the hype get to your head. As a first-timer, your main concern should be working hard without regrets, not whether or not you maximized your time by doing three reps per set instead of four. Remember, as a novice, you aren’t going to Regionals.

"Beginners to CrossFit should relish in the fact that they can’t check the leaderboard for their scores from past years. For this one year, ignorance is bliss."

Worrying about strategy, like focusing on the clock, will just sabotage your confidence - and for a beginner, it’s all about the big picture. At the end of each workout, ask yourself these questions:

Are you proud of your effort?
Did you work as hard as possible on that given day?
Did you have fun?

If you answer yes to these, consider the workout a success.


3. Don’t Hold Yourself Back

Something magical happens during the Open. Fear and doubt go out the window and countless people find themselves transitioning over the rings for their first muscle up or finally whipping a jump rope fast enough for their first double under.

Athletes all over the world achieve feats of strength and athleticism that once seemed impossible. Watching a friend conquer something that he or she has struggling with since that first nervous day at the box is incredibly rewarding.

Many beginners get stuck in a cycle of always choosing to fall short of what they’re truly capable of doing. But because Open workouts are judged, you’re forced to maintain movement standards and try things you think are out of your reach. Henry Ford said it best: “If you think you can, or you think you can’t - you’re right.”


4. Embrace Embarrassment

Chances are one of your goats will pop up during the five-week competition. Maybe it’s the elusive muscle up that you’re still a bit away from achieving. Or maybe the prescribed deadlift is a weight you only dream about.

It sucks to stand next to a barbell you can’t lift, but unfortunately, when you can’t perform the movement, the only course of action during an official Open workout is to ride out the clock. Your coach will likely give you a high-five for hanging in there, but let’s face it, entering a sub-par score into the leaderboard is going to sting.

Give the workout your best shot, but know when to bow out. Don’t be embarrassed, and don’t hurt yourself trying to get just one rep. Grinding out a heavy snatch or turning into the Hunchback of Notre Dame for a deadlift isn’t worth the risk of injury. Crazy things can happen in the heat of the moment (see tip number three), but sometimes it’s best to call it a day. Remember, you’re a beginner and your goals are to learn and have fun.

"Give the workout your best shot, but know when to bow out. Don’t be embarrassed, and don’t hurt yourself trying to get just one rep."

The silver lining in this situation is that the Open will expose your weaknesses and provide a training roadmap for the next year. You might be surprised at how motivated you feel to train harder after failing in an Open workout. Once competition is over, there are 47 weeks until the next Open. That’s a lot of time to improve strength and skills.


5. You’ll Get Better at CrossFit Without Actually Working Out

Yes, you read that right. Each Open workout must be performed in front of a judge (aka, fellow CrossFitter at your box). Judges are responsible for ensuring each athlete adheres to proper movement standards. If your athlete doesn’t meet these standards, it’s up to the judge to call out a “no rep.”

Judging will make you a better athlete because watching people move is a great way to develop an eye for quality movement. You’ll begin to notice common mistakes that run rampant in CrossFit boxes and you may start to wonder if you’re guilty of the same mistakes. “I hope I don’t look like that when I work out.”

No one wants to “no rep” during a WOD, so do yourself a favor and use this new awareness as motivation to fight for better positions - like maintaining high elbows on front squats or keeping your feet glued together for kipping pull ups. A little extra effort will go a long way for building your confidence.


The Sorting Hat: 2018 House Cup

Last week, United Barbell team captains & co-captains got together to do our second annual House Cup team draft!  Your six fearless and feisty leaders scrambled to collect you as their tenacious and spirited teammates. Old teams were split and lovers divided, the night was full of surprises.  The last two House Cups proved to be highlights of their years: 5 weeks filled with cheering, PRs, and healthy competition... and so far this year is stacking up to be even better!

Before you scroll down and read the draft results, please remember if you are not on the team that you were last year (or the year before), consider you may have been snatched up by another team before your captain was able to secure your spot.  That said, welcome to your 2018 House Cup team!!!

First item on the agenda?  Team shirts!  

We continue to work to make the House Cup the best experience for all involved. Stay tuned for all new info on team scoring and ways to secure this year's spot on the House Cup trophy! 

Food for Thought: Control vs Concern

More delicious mindset food for thought from Comptrain.  Want your mindset to take you to the next level in the 2018 House Cup?  Get in on Coach Jason's Mindset Seminar February 11th!


As athletes, there are only five things that we can truly control—our training, nutrition, sleep, recovery, and mindset. If it doesn’t fall into one of those categories, forget about it. Control the things you can control and ignore everything else. 

The above diagram illustrates some of the most commonly overheard topics in the athlete warm-up area at the CrossFit Games (or any other competition). Most of them are concerns that lie outside of the athletes’ control.

This concept of control versus concern is the cornerstone of the process, and—like everything else—it requires some practice. 

Before the Games each year, as a mental exercise, CompTrain’s elite athletes (Katrin Davidsdottir, Brooke Wells and Cole Sager) make a list. They write down every possible thing they can think of that could go wrong at the CrossFit Games. No stone is left unturned—the final 2017 list had 101 items on it, and included things like the weather, alarm clocks not going off, nutritional distress, judges miscounting reps, travel delays, and shark attacks. We named the list “101 Things That Could Go Wrong At The Games,” then went through it one by one, categorizing each item into things we could and couldn’t control. The things we couldn’t control got erased from our mind, and the things we could control got a plan. 

A huge piece of chasing excellence is attention to tiny details, but the key distinction is that you pay attention to the right details, the ones within your control over which you have power. Most people go through life having no idea what they can actually control. They’re concerned about a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean they control those things. Many people struggle to recognize the difference between the two. Imagine a book of matches. A typical matchbook has 20 matches, and together, they represent all of your energy for the day. Energy is a finite resource; once it’s gone, you can’t get it back. If you burn through your matchsticks on things that are outside your control, you have less energy for things you can control—things that can actually move the needle on your performance.

In the sport of CrossFit, there is so much that lies beyond our control. All of the buzz in the athlete area falls into this category. No amount of concern will enable us to control things like the weather, workouts, standards, judges, or other athletes. Whether we’re training in December at home or competing at the Games in July, we train our mind not to focus on anyone’s performance but own own. At the end of the day, the only competition is with ourselves. 

The Open is Coming!

Hey!  Hey you! Have you registered for the house cup yet?  Why not? 

The Mambas stole the trophy in 2017.  Who will take the lead in 2018?

The Mambas stole the trophy in 2017.  Who will take the lead in 2018?

Head to head and team challenges, team spirit and CrossFit!  What more do you want?

Head to head and team challenges, team spirit and CrossFit!  What more do you want?

While we aren't ready to announce all the changes for this years 5 week House Cup smorgasbord, here are some things to help you get on board:

It's Free

Register for the 2018 CrossFit Open Here!

Register for the 2018 CrossFit Open Here!

In 2016, registration for the CrossFit Open was required in order to participate in the United Barbell House Cup. But in 2017, we decided to only require members to register with us to participate in the House Cup.  The same is true for 2018.

We know many of you love participating in the CrossFit Open.  There is a great sense of competition and community created by comparing yourself to athletes participating globally.  You can absolutely still participate in the 2018 CrossFit Open... In fact, registration opened yesterday!  However, you don't have to to participate in the House Cup.  

If You Miss a Week

If you are out of town and need to miss a week or two, it will not penalize your team.  No excuses!

Scaled Division

For those of you who are new to the House Cup or the CrossFit Open, there are both scaled and RX versions of each workout, so all can participate.... see?  NO EXCUSES!!

SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?  The teams draft is happening in less than 2 weeks, so stop thinking about it and register!  (Captains - get to recruiting!)

Register Here for the 2018 House Cup!


Let the Games begin!  .... Ok, just because CrossFit HQ hasn't opened registration for the CrossFit Open yet doesn't mean we can't get ready.  How you ask?  By preparing for United Barbell's 3rd Annual House Cup!

For our newer members, the House Cup is a gym wide team competition interlaced with the CrossFit Open.  Participants are divided into 3 teams.  Teams win points by participating in the 5 CrossFit Open workouts, showing team spirit, and by being all-around awesome.  The events start February 22rd and take place over 5 weeks:

  • 18.1- Feb. 22-26
  • 18.2- March 1-5
  • 18.3- March 8-12
  • 18.4- March 15-19
  • 18.5- March 22-26

The team draft will be happening in just a couple weeks, so make sure to register ASAP! 

Captains: Want to be a team captain and lead your team to the ultimate glory?  Email me!

Participants: Want to join in for 5 weeks of a gym-wide extravaganza of fun and competition? Sign up below ASAP!  

Beyond the Open - Congrats Patrick B. & Coaches Jon & Shannon!

This year's House Cup was a success for oodles of reasons... least of which we had not one, not two, but three new athletes cross the threshold into post Open competition.  Patrick and Coach Jon will both participate in the Masters Qualifier Thursday-Monday, April 20-24, 2017, while Coach Shannon will go on to Regionals Memorial Day Weekend in Del Mar (along with Colleen, who will be representing team NorCal!).

Saying the commitment Patrick, Jon and Shannon showed over this last year was inspiring is a gross understatement.  These three have been the epitome of dedication, and their efforts proved it.  Patrick jumped 313 spots to finish 143rd in his age category, while Coach Jon jumped 104 spots in the Masters 40-44 to finish 165th and Coach Shannon technically jumped 50 places from last year (there's a story here), landing her in 9th this year!

These three have been such great leading examples that I wanted to take an opportunity to have them share some reflections with all of you: 

Patrick in 2014

Patrick in 2014

Patrick in 17.3

Patrick in 17.3

What was a highlight from your experience of the 2017 open?

Patrick - Watching so many people putting their hearts and souls into their WODs. Regardless of their skill levels or their goals (or even if they had full use of their extremiites), they showed up and took on each workout with the hearts of lions. Another was kidnapping Mambo from the Black Mambas and documenting his adventures on social media. I probably enjoyed that a little too much. 

Jon - In general it was the House Cup. Seeing the UB community and spirit come out was truly moving. On a personal level, it was improving on every workout with my 2nd attempt. One thing I wanted from this year’s training was to be ABLE to re-do workouts. Last year I wanted to but couldn’t recover fast enough. This year I got better with each re-do, and that made the difference getting into the top 200.

Shannon - The highlight of my Open 2017 was snatching 175 a couple times in 17.3.  This was a PR for me, but more importantly... it was the weight that I timed out at in 16.2 (the similar clean ladder one) last year. While I am proud of winning 17.2 (don't get me wrong), 17.3 was more satisfying for me because I'm not typically expected to do well with heavy weights. The fact that I can snatch this year what I had trouble cleaning last year is insane to me.


What would be your advice to others pushing to compete beyond the Open?

Patrick -  1)  Trust the coaching and know that you’re making progress, even when you don’t think you are.  2)  There is nothing like a competition to help you improve as an athlete.

Jon - Sit down and talk with a coach about it (I’m happy to do it), even if you only want to compete casually. Know why you’re doing it and what priority you’re giving it in your life. Everyone’s answers to those are different. But there are no shortcuts. If you’re doing it to improve, you need a plan. The most improvement comes in the training leading up to the competition, not the competition itself.

Shannon - For others looking to go further competitively, I would say 2 things:

1. Don't count yourself out. The first time I watched Regionals in 2014 (it was still NorCal Regionals and the cutoff was still Top 48) my coach at the time asked me if I wanted to go to Regionals some day. I laughed and told him "These bitches are crazy." Then in 2015 when Regionals became Super Regionals and the cutoff went from Top 48 to Top 20, (like many others) I basically said, well I'm for sure not making it now. I used to come up w excuses for myself, saying I'm not enough like *this* or *that*, or I could never *insert excuse here*. It wasn't until April 2015 that I actually convinced myself I could make Regionals if I actually wanted to. That's when I found James. Once you start to consider something actually possible, your mindset changes and the work you do is actually for a reason... purposeful, diligent, deliberate practice.

2. You're not going to do it alone. If you're serious about getting better competitively, it's not going to happen simply by wishing it would. You're going to need to proactively seek additional help from proven experts in their field, and stay accountable. For me, I have James Kusama (former regional athlete, expert programmer, and current master qualifier) who determines my exercise programming  cycles, and I have Ashley Smith (Working Against Gravity) who determines my nutritional intake as well as monitoring my stress levels, sleep quality, mindfulness etc.


 What's been the biggest game changer in the last year?

Patrick - Several months ago I signed up for personal training for gymnastics from Coach Shannon and Olympic lifting with Coach Shaheen. Although my performance in those two areas during the Open wasn’t the stuff of legends, it was much better than it would have been without their coaching. 

Jon - Having someone else program for me to really address my weaknesses. I finished 918th in 16.4. That result kept me out of the top 200 last year. And that same score for 17.4 would have been 1,420th. I finished 403rd in 17.4. But that didn’t happen overnight. That was a year of HSPU and overhead work. It’s still a weakness for me, but I improved enough that it kept me in the race.

Shannon - Biggest game changers this year were: quitting my full time job and dropping 16 pounds. You'll do crazy things if you care about something enough :)

House Cup Final Standings!

I know you just want to know who won. But first, let me congratulate EVERYONE on what will go down as a House Cup to rival Hogwarts! Seriously, though, I've been moved by the spirit, energy, and dedication you all brought to the last 5 weeks. It got better each week, and culminated with a buzzing 17.5 Friday night that was the perfect end to this year's competition. There's a long post ahead. Anyone who makes it to the end, send me a message and let me know! But without delaying further, your winner is...

The Black Mambas!  It was going to take an epic weekend from the Ultimates or 2Fit2Quit - and they tried. The Ultimates once again ran wild on the top 3 placings, but it was their achilles heel of the Open - the Challenges - that left them behind. 2Fit2Quit edged out the week, thanks to big points from Challenges and some top 3 points, but they had too big a hole to climb out of. The Mambas, however, were the most consistent team week to week. They scored points in all areas, lacking some in top 3s but making up for it in Spirit and all members contributing. And in the annals of history, I think it will be the way they rallied their team around the judges course that's remembered. Their spirit showed from day 0 and never wavered, and so Mambo will drink from the House Cup for all of 2017! 

Spirit Points: Anyone around this weekend saw how much spirit was on display. The points ended up fairly evenly split among the teams, and I'm going to convey the highlights in a different way than previous weeks:
Broken but not beaten: Those that displayed Spirit despite injury, modifying and participating however they could - Amy, Brian, Chelsea, Dock, PJ. Know that you inspired many around you. Brian even came in 3rd in the Scaled division this week doing all the hops on ONE LEG!
Challenge-related: the face-offs were at an all-time high this week, with many going outside their comfort zone to make or accept challenges (Brittany, Davis, Tushar). Some, like Mike, kept us entertained throughout the House Cup. Andrew and Coach Jo took on the challenge of being filmed by WODwell the night 17.5 was announced. Special shout out to Austin who never won, but wasn't afraid to challenge someone "above" him every week.
Best-dressed: Austin won the crowd with the singlet, PJ a close second in the ninja costume. Hayley, Steve and the Ultimates had the perfect post-17.5 party attire. And Patrick dressed up UB pre-17.5 to fit the occasion.
Attitude: A little broader category here but these people embodied the House Cup in many ways. Ester was the best all-around judge/cheerleader every week. Chad brought a positive spirit no matter the workout. Dave never let a wod get the best of him, despite devotion to the oly craft. Sunli was there to support you with spray bottles, gummy bears, or hugs - whatever you needed! Anita doodled her way into our hearts. Shannon gave us virtuosity to strive for. And Momma Mamba Loryn embodied House Cup Spirit like no other.
Organizers: We do what we do out of love. That you noticed was icing on a fulfilling cake. Coaches Nikki, Jay, and Jon gave you their best - from designing one-arm scaled wods to pre-heat pep talks, from MC duties to convincing their team to go Braveheart for 17.5. Seriously, who doesn't want Jay on the megaphone every time you work out?
Honorable Mention: Brigitte received many nominations from you all, and she's not even on a team. But she made everyone want to do the workouts just to get to her delicious desserts :-)

One-on-one Challenges
Too many to note here - we filled the board! Ultimates got 6 points, Mambas 16, and 2Fit2Quit got 20 points in challenges this week.

#ubhousecup on social media
3 points for all teams - again, too many to count!

Predictor Points
Anita (Ultimates), Nikhil (Mambas), Coach Jay and Yana (2Fit2Quit) nailed the task-priority couplet of thrusters and DUs.

Judges Course
Mambas - 123 pts
Ultimates - 75 pts
2Fit2Quit - 59 pts

Top 3 RX males
1st - Steve (Ultimates) - 11:30
2nd - Jon (2Fit) - 11:43
3rd - Sean (Ultimates) - 12:22

Top 3 Scaled males
1st - Jack (Mambas) - 13:05
2nd - Alan (Ultimates) - 15:14
3rd - Brian (2Fit) - 19:07

Ultimates - 20 pts
Mambas - 17 pts
2Fit2Quit - 15 pts

Top 3 RX females
1st - Shannon (Ultimates) - 8:08
2nd - Hayley (Ultimates) - 9:19
3rd - Jo (2Fit) - 10:43

Top 3 Scaled females
1st - Courtney (Ultimates) - 9:25 (pregnant!!!)
2nd - Valerie (Ultimates) - 9:40
3rd - Yana (2Fit) - 10:28

Finally, for those who made it this far, here are some extra stats for the nerds like me:

  • Ultimates won the overall Participation points - 99 to the Mambas' 93 and 2Fit's 85
  • Ultimates edged out 2Fit in Top3 points - 75 to 69, with the Mambas a distant 3rd with 36
  • Mambas won overall Spirit points with 33 to Ultimates' 20 and 2Fit's 18
  • #ubhousecup points were fairly equal, but if we didn't cap it at 3 points per team the Ultimates would have dominated thanks to Anita, Chad, and Patrick.
  • WOD Prediction wasn't worth a great deal in the grand scheme, but the Ultimates got 11 points there vs. 7 for the Mambas and 5 for 2Fit. And in general, more Ultimates guessed each week, with Mambas 2nd most and 2Fit the least.
  • 2Fit narrowly won the Challenge points, with 54 vs 48 for the Mambas, and only 18 for the Ultimates.
  • On a strict basis of how many points people scored for their teams, MVPs were:
    • Mambas: Loryn, Nikki, Sunli, Andrew, Ester, Amelia, Yuli, Adrian, Dave, Dock
    • Ultimates: Patrick, Hayley, Anita, Shannon, Chad, Steve, Kristine, Sean, Mike
    • 2Fit2Quit: Jason, Jon, Jo, Brian, Max, Man, Austin, Amy, Mike
  • Coach Jay won the most Challenge points with 12, followed by Erica, Loryn, and Man with 8
  • Anita won the most on WOD Prediction (5), followed by Dock (4) and Alfredo and Yana (3)
  • Shannon dominated the top 3s, followed by Hayley, Jon, Brian, Jo, Mike, Steve, and Yuli
  • No shock, Loryn won the most Spirit pts, followed by Patrick, Austin, Nikki, PJ, Anita, Ester, and Dock

Go to the UB Athletes page on Facebook and go to Photos -> Albums to see all the pics from each week!