Understanding Mobile and Stable Joints

A couple weeks ago, myself and Dr. Rob attended the Selective Functional Movement Assessment Seminar. For those who are unfamiliar with it, it’s  a seminar put of by the governing body on all things “functional movement” and is run by the big names in the pre-hab, diagnostic, and rehabilitative realm of corrective exercise. They have created a pretty awesome diagnostic flowchart and system of assessing all sources of pain throughout the body. Out of the many seminars I’ve attended on exercise physiology, performance enhancement, and as a matter of fact, all of my undergraduate and graduate studies in Kinesiology, this one really took my understanding of the human body, through exercise and sport, to another level. While there were a ton of concepts I have taken home with me and have started applying to training and programming, I thought I’d share a really cool one that ALL of you who have had some sort of nagging pain or injury can relate to: The Stable/Mobile joint Approach.

This approach was put together by famous Functional Movement coaches and therapists Gray Cook and Mike Boyle.

If you look at the big joint structures of the body (see above), there is a recurring pattern….Whether you start from the top-down or vice versa, the body follows a alternating pattern of:

Stable Joints and Mobile Joints

For instance, the ankle, which requires a lot of movement in all planes of motion at the foot is considered a MOBILE joint. Right above it, we have the knee, a joint that provides stability for the leg, which is considered a STABLE joint. You are probably familiar with the hip as a MOBILE joint, and right above it, the lumbar spine, which is our spine’s source of support, is considered a STABLE joint. The same goes for shoulder girdle (STABLE joint) while the shoulder joint is a MOBILE joint and so on and so forth.

In a perfect body, this pattern stays consistent and is a blueprint of how we were meant to use this joints functionally. However, in life, especially in the lives of those who love to move, and even those who love to be a couch potato, we run the risk of messing with this beautiful pattern. We start to run into problems when our daily activities, or lack there of, can alter the anatomically pre-determined job of the joints. Think about sitting for long periods. Our hip, which is supposed to be a mobile joint, is glued to a seat. What happens over time? Tight hips. When the hip, which is supposed to be a mobile joint, turns into a stable body, the next joint up has to compensate and start moving….hello Mr. Low Back Pain. Now the low back has gone from what is supposed to be a stable joint to now having to do excess motion to make up for the tight hips. Here is the start of the vicious cycle. If we destroy the shoulder joint and it becomes tight or “immobile”, the shoulder girdle, where our shoulder stabilizers reside, take on more movement. Then hello shoulder pain. When you extrapolate this across all joints, you can start to see where most pain comes from and in my realization at this seminar, how one tight joint can effect all the others.

So, why do I want you all to know this? To be honest, I think it’s really cool stuff to know. But as a coach, I want you guys to better understand the why’s and how’s of treating yourself. Most of us just grab a foam roller or lax ball and start going to town on where we feel pain. This is obviously better than nothing, however, finding the source of the pain or tightness will help you get to the problem quicker. I know a majority of you are not EXPERTS in anatomy, but as with things like exercise and diet, I’m sure the lack of clinical expertise has not stopped you from going about day to day behavior changes. Also, this is where we come in! One of the biggest values of a clinician, therapist, or coach, is to assess and diagnose movement correctly. We’ve been around movement a lot, and take pride in our knowledge of the body so don’t be afraid to communicate any nagging issues with us. A good diagnosis cuts to the chase. If you can get a better diagnosis, you know where to start treatment and to cut down the treatment time. When you cut treatment time down, you get back to doing what you love: MOVING!

Halloween Costume Contest

535589_741578009192249_1500472557_nLast year’s crew! 

It’s that time of year! As we’ve done the past couple years, we continue our tradition of the Halloween Costume contest this year. With Halloween conveniently on a Friday this year, we hope to have a big showing from you all! Ok, so how does it work? Very simple. On Friday, October 31st, show up to the 4:30 or 5:30pm class ready to WOD….in costume! To be entered in the contest, you MUST complete the WOD in costume. The person with the best costume will win a PRIZE! The winner of the contest will be chosen by vote of the Sweat Shop coaches based upon creativity, originality, WODing difficulty, and humor!

Check out some old winners here:




See you all on Halloween!

Row-a-Thon at Walnut Creek CrossFit


Our friends at Walnut Creek CrossFit are hosting a Row-A-Thon with proceeds going to the family of the man that started the event back in Fresno a few years back.  The format of this event is actually pretty cool.  Teams of 4 (2 men, 2 women) have 1 rower to accumulate as many meters in 90 minutes as possible.  Here’s the cool part, while you are rotating your 4 team members through your 1 rower, there are 8 skills to be performed at any point during the event that will earn your team extra points.  Each team member will be designated to do 2 of the skills.  Here are the list of skills:

Max Ring Muscle Ups (unbroken)
Max Bar Muscle Ups (unbroken)
Max Calories on Airdyne (2 minutes)
Max Tire Flips (2 minutes)
Max KB Snatch (53/35) 2 minutes
Max Double Unders (2 minutes)
Max Distance Farmers Carry (2 minutes)
Max Unbroken Wallballs 30/18 (2 minutes)

The event will be held on Saturday November 15th 8am, in downtown Walnut Creek at Walnut Creek CrossFit.  Cost is $100 per team.  To register for this event email Andrew at Walnut Creek CrossFit.

Iron October this Saturday


We have two teams competing in the Iron October Comp in Sacramento this Saturday! Partners Taneya & Helen and Brandon & Marko are ready to represent for Team Sweat Shop. Events start at 9:00am. Address posted below if you want to come cheer on your fellow Sweat Shoppers.


Click on ironoctober.com for more info



CrossFit Around the World

IMG_5251Stephen getting a workout while in Tokyo for a business trip

Stephen me sent this picture last week of a CrossFit gym he visited in Tokyo and it reminded me how cool the community is.  Whether traveling within California, the United States, or just about anywhere on the globe, you can always find a CrossFit gym that welcomes traveling fellow CrossFitters.  While all CrossFit gyms do some form of CrossFit, the Sweat Shop members I’ve spoke to that have visited other gyms also enjoy seeing how other gyms differ from the Sweat Shop.  I too enjoy visiting CrossFit gyms when I’m out of town (CrossFit Avalanche and CrossFit Blizzard in North Tahoe are my favorites).  For me it’s nice to workout in an environment different from where I work and play everyday, but when I visit a gym with great coaches, it’s also really useful to pick up new cues, mobility stretches, and different fixes to common movement problems.  Lastly, while every gym has different drop in policies, it’s always a good idea to call or email the day before you plan on visiting a gym.

CrossFit Team Series Complete!


Congrats to Nick, Skyler, Taneya, and Bri as they wrapped up the first ever CrossFit Team Series competition last week! They fought long and hard for a total of 3 weekends of competition (even through some nagging injuries) and took an awesome 6th place in Nor Cal out of 54 teams! For those who are not familiar with the Team Series, it’s similar to the CrossFit Open, but with a 4-person team. CrossFit announces 3 sets of 3-4 workouts, each set separated by a couple weeks, and the team has 4 days to complete each set and submit the scores online. Nick, Skyler, Taneya, and Bri set the bar really high and we can’t wait to get more groups of Sweat Shoppers involved next year! Great work everyone, and thanks for testing the waters for us!

For more info on the CrossFit Team Series, check out their website here.

Missing Lifts

10058647355_a20e8100bf_kVintage Bill..before he used to squat in his Olympian Titans

For some time, we’ve been very fond of the “Every Minute On The Minute” or “EMOM” format when programming olympics lifting days. One main reason is that it keeps you more on task during the session. Although it is a bit more fatiguing, having the added stress to go right back to the bar allows you to get more work done and can help minimize the mental block that creeps up when you reach that semi-uncomfortable weight. We also like it because it is a great format to self-teach yourself the movement. It allows you to make adjustments or give yourself cues in a short period of time. With all this being said, all of the amazing benefits from the EMOM can be quickly lost when you allow too many misses. Going for max or near max loads, especially during olympic lifting training, will never translate to actual learning if you fail the majority of them. If you are missing 6+ reps in a 2-rep, 12 minute EMOM, you’re basically wasting the session. Here’s an article from Catalyst Athletics on the effect of missing lifts when training.

From the post:

What percentage of your lifts in training are misses? If you know an actual number, you’re spending too much time on the math and not enough on the lifting, but if it’s a big chunk, you’re probably aware of it. I’ve talked a lot about practice and how important it is to practice lifting the way you want to lift even on the seemingly inconsequential sets or accessory lifts because that will be the majority of your training volume, and therefore the majority of your training time. 

Your misses count as practice just as much as your makes do. Not only is it practice in the physical, technical sense, i.e. you’re practicing the movement that produces a miss, but, more importantly, you’re practicing mentally to miss. If missing is a regular occurrence in your training, it’s a serious problem you need to address both through adjustments in your programming and in your approach to your training.

Read more here. 

Yoga Tuesday Evening’s @ 8:00pm

Despite what this video suggests, you don’t have to just choose one or the other.  In fact most CrossFitters would benefit greatly from the mobility gained by doing yoga in conjunction with CrossFit.  This leads me to reminding you all that we currently offer a yoga class each Tuesday evening at 8pm taught by Ali… and the class is free to Sweat Shop members.

TIME to end the war on Fat

This was a recent article in Time Magazine. It’s great to see Fats getting a good rap in the public eye. While most of us already know this good stuff, a reminder and a bit of science is always helpful, especially when asked why you eat the way you eat.


CrossTown Throwdown – Tiki Comes Home!

brandon_danaBrandon B. (long time CFO member, now Sweat Shop member) and Dana during “Awkward Touching” which was a team event of double unders and buddy carry

The 2014 CrossTown Throwdown is in the books with the win going to CrossFit Sweat Shop!  After losing a heartbreaker last year, it was nice to win this year in commanding fashion.  As always though, I must thank Mike and Arnold of CrossFit Oakland for all the work that goes in each year to put this event together, and of course MJ, for all the work on his end coordinating the whole event.

With so many great highlights throughout the day I’ll share a few of my favorites, and then James and Rene can share theirs in posts later this week if they’d like.

One of my favorite highlights happened before the event even started.  One of the first to arrive at CrossFit Oakland was Doug, and I soon learned that he had been fasting since the day before, and had even gone to the sauna at 5am to try and sweat off the final few pounds to make the 165lb. weight class for the tug of war.  While this was the first year we added a “lightweight” division to the tug of war, we certainly didn’t expect anyone to cut weight, let alone, visit a sauna the morning of the event, in order to make weight… but if anyone knows Doug, you certainly know he will do just about anything to help out.  He’s also the nicest competitor out there as after he beat his opponent in the first matchup, he quickly went over to shake his hand.  Another great moment came in the second event when Ali came out on top of the Tabata Thruster workout against some of Oakland’s toughest competitors.  Her focus, determination, and absolute grit were like none other when she performed close to 200 thrusters in a matter of minutes.  Just as impressive is that she was still able to function as her, Kristen, and Becca blasted through 4 minutes of deadlifts at 185lbs., for the win in that workout…. as well as the kettlebell swing/box jump workout that came up a little later.  Speaking of tug of war, this was the first year that Sweat Shop was able to take the victory in that event which is ALWAYS super fun to watch (big thanks to Mark Marten for getting us our very own tug of war rope for Christmas last year!).  Slipping, sliding feet, bodies falling down and getting back up, people being dragged but not giving up, heavyweights, lightweights and everyone in between poured their ALL into each and every battle!

Most of all I am proud of our gym community as a whole.  More than half of our entire gym was in attendance on Saturday, whether it be to participate or just cheer and support, most of which stayed until the very end!  Midway through the competition, seeing the army of black shirts lined up to get their muscle up, I was reminded how fortunate I am to be a part of such an awesome group of people.  Thanks everyone!

Check out pictures from the event here.  Big thanks to Jen A. and Mel for taking lots of really great pictures!!

CrossTown Throwdown Tomorrow!

8064847234_fb66e4352d_cRene 2012…Hungry for the Tiki like it’s Roam Burger.


The battle for the Tiki returns tomorrow! The CrossTown Throwdown starts early with the first WOD being announced at 8:00am! Come down to cheer and be ready to WOD…. you’re name may be called at any point! We will need a big showing from Sweat Shop as the competitor field gets bigger and better each year. What I love about this competition is that we truly rely on EVERYONE there! Whether it’s a big cheering section or someone stepping up into the battlefield without being fully prepared (trust me it happens every year), you ALL contribute. There’s truly nothing more fun to see as a coach then watching your entire posse that you see every day throw down together!

Here is the address for the festivities:
The CrossTown Throwdown takes place this Saturday at CrossFit Oakland Emeryville location:
1313 67th Street
Emeryville, CA 94608

Bring your own food and drinks as it will be a long day!

Let’s go Sweat Shop!


Get it…Got it….Good?


Mel showcasing her muscle up at last years Cross Town Throwdown

In CrossFit we are constantly learning new skills, lifts and techniques. One of the things that drew me to CrossFit was that there was so much to learn…how could I ever get bored? With learning a new skill comes the reality that once you have achieved it, it doesn’t mean you have mastered it. Mastery can take years on just one lift. Look at olympic lifters for example. They spend their lives perfecting two movements, the Clean and Jerk and Snatch. CrossFit athletes have the joy of working on countless exercises, so mastery in one specific area and be damn near impossible.

What comes to mind for me is muscle ups, but the same can be applied to any other gymnastics or olympic movement. So let’s take the muscle up as an example. Once you get your first muscle up, you may struggle to see consistency. One day you might have it and the other…well, its just not in the cards. It’s OK and perfectly normal. After getting my first muscle up, some days I had it and some days I didn’t. It was months before I even attempted them in workouts, and even then it was slow going. Remember to enjoy the journey to mastery, thats what keeps it interesting.

Honorary Featured Athlete: MJ

mjMJ circa 2008

As most Sweat Shop members know by now, this Saturday will be the 4th edition of the CrossTown Throwdown, which is a barrage of workouts over the course of a day where our entire gym goes head to head against CrossFit Oakland.  While these days there are literally CrossFit competitions every weekend (especially here in California), this event is without a doubt one of a kind!  While there is a lot of prep work that both Mike Minium and Arnold Chua from CrossFit Oakland, as well as James and myself have to do, there’s NO WAY this event could happen without the work put in by our friend MJ!  Since MJ isn’t a Sweat Shop member or coach, most people from our gym just assume he is a coach/owner/member or somehow affiliated with CrossFit Oakland.  And while MJ did workout at CFO many years back (this is actually where I met him), he’s really just a guy who enjoys coordinating fun events (also the brainchild behind Femme Fit and Fran Off) and watching people push themselves beyond their limits!

So what does MJ do?!  He played basketball in college, afterwards he went looking for physical challenges and did things like summit Mt. Rainer.  And while now-a-days you can find him moving some crazy weights at Cal Strength (check him out here doing a 430lb. squat clean) and competing at Nationals, believe it or not, he moves pretty well for a big guy back when he did CrossFit.  The only footage that I know of that has him doing CrossFit type stuff  is from a workout format that he came up with called Who’s Your Daddy.  I just watched this video for the fist time in a couple of years… lots of funny stuff I didn’t notice back then.

Anyway, be sure and say hi to him when you see him this Saturday at CrossFit Oakland, and don’t forget to tell him thanks for coordinating such a unique event!

Comp Recap This Weekend


On Saturday, Marko, Steph, Taneya, and I competed at the Dia De Los Beasts Partner Competition at CrossFit Skybox in American Canyon. It was a crazy hot day and the workouts were both nasty and super fun! There was a large and competitive field of 30 Rx’d teams, including several familiar regional faces. The event was run very smoothly, the event coordinators were super encouraging, and as my body will tell you, the programming was on point!

The first workout started out with a bang! In 8 minutes, we had to drag a heavy sled 300m…straight up a hill. Then once up the hill, we had to get as many squat snatches as we could as a team. Marko and Steph had the brutal task of being in the first heat but still were able to smash on some snatches. After some tips from Marko and Steph, Taneya and I followed suit and were able to get 27 snatches which was tied for first.

The second workout involved 2 minutes max reps of a ton of skills. The cool part of this workout was that each movement was scored and ranked as a separate WOD which allowed us to be rewarded on the skills that were in our favor. Both Sweat Shop teams crushed all of these! Steph and Marko had top 5 finishes in box jumps and toes to bar, while Taneya and I had top 5 finishes in handstand walks, muscle ups, toes to bar, and box jumps.

The third workout hurt bad! We had to do an AMRAP of synchronized squat cleans and burpees where we had to rise out of the squat and jump over the bar at the same time. After hating on this workout beforehand, I can attest that it was one of the most painful ones I’ve done and one that required more teamwork/communication than ever! Both teams PR’d on our scores from practice and also PR’d on time on the floor after this one!

At the end of the 3 workouts, Taneya and I had made it to the final workout which was a “DEATH BY” workout in which both members had to complete 7 thrusters, 7 pullups, and 7 burpees EVERY MINUTE on the minute until one team was left standing. This one was super exciting and intense as we were just trying to move faster than the clock and hope that some teams would drop! We were able to outlast one of the teams but was barely edged out by the second place team.

While taking 3rd was a proud moment as a competitor, as a coach I was more proud of watching Taneya, Steph, and Marko all in their pumped up, gritty competition element! Marko and Steph were a solid team in that each made up for eachothers’ weaknesses with their own strengths. While Marko did all the handstand walks, Steph mashed on muscle ups right after. She also helped carry Marko off the floor after the clean workout! Before the comp, Taneya was totally nervous about pistols and burpees and when it came game time, she totally crushed it and carried the load when I was in typical “JB Blackout” mode. I had a blast competing with this group and can’t wait for more of these! Big thanks to Charlie, Michelle, Kristen, Nick, and Bri for sticking around to cheer us on until the end!

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