What kind of jerk are you?!


Jen A. showing us the catch position in a push jerk

Often times I get asked the question, “What’s the difference between the push jerk or split jerk?” or “Which one would benefit me more?” Although both skills are a valuable tool in a crossfitters bag of tricks, it is important to understand the value of both movements.

One argument I’d like to discuss has to do with stability. When our feet are directly under our hips in the catch position, as with the push jerk shown above, we are limited to the space between our toes and heel along with the distance between the outer section of one foot to the opposite side on the other foot. If the bar travels outside of this “box”, it becomes increasingly difficult to have a successful lift due to the small room for error. On the other hand, when we take our catch into the split position, as with the split jerk, stability is greatly increased. By utilizing the split position, we increase both width and length of our “box” thus giving us more of a chance to successfully complete a lift. Am I favoring the split jerk over the push jerk? Maybe. But as I mentioned before, it is important to know the value of both movements.

Although the split jerk allows us to move greater loads overhead, it may not be as efficient in a WOD where we are trying to create a high level of intensity. There are simply more steps to getting into and recovering from the split jerk as opposed to the push jerk.

There are many factors that determine what kind of jerk you are, and this article offers more insight into both movements.

As with any movement in CrossFit, both movements are skills with their own strengths and weaknesses. Being proficient in both may prove useful in the long run.

New Guidelines for Fat and Cholesterol

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Over the past decade, the government and health-professionals have gone through a big change in views of fat. Stubborn for some time now, the government has finally started to catch on board with the, shall I say, “re-newed” research and are now starting to rescind the age-old, “fat is the enemy” myths. While many folks, especially in the CrossFit community, have been exposed to the benefits of fat and the dangers of toxic stuff like sugar, a huge chunk of the population still has no idea these change dietary changes taking place. Obviously, many people rely on what government says, so it was relieving seeing this article. Check it out.

“There’s no longer going to be a recommended upper limit on total fat intake. This hasn’t gotten as much press as the other big change – that cholesterol will no longer be considered a “nutrient of concern,” meaning that we can now eat eggs without feeling guilty. But as the authors of a new paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association point out, the true game-changer in the new recommendations is that we won’t have to worry so much about the total fat content of our food. And this makes a lot of sense, since in many ways, fats are much better for us than what they’ve typically been replaced with in low-fat diets – refined carbs and added sugars.”

Read full article here.

Handstand Walk

Having not done a handstand walk in quite some time, this video served as great refresher. Carl demonstrates some great progressions you can practice before or after class to begin the process of handstand walk. For more professions, check out Part 2.

Adam Takes 1st in Master’s Division at Brethren!


Congratulations to Adam who took 1st place overall in the Master’s division of the Brethren Throwdown at the PLEX!  With a finishing place of 3rd or better in all of the day’s workouts, Adam once again finishes the day in commanding fashion!  You can check out the full leader board here.

Go Up A Hill

20150620_141938 Jacqueline’s Games prep has included weekly hill runs with M.J. in Oakland.

Beyond the fact that I think they are more fun than their flat and long distance counterpart, hill sprints also yield a ton of training benefits. Most of the benefits of fitness programs like CrossFit stem from, when done correctly, optimizing a higher intensity throughout a workout. While you can categorize this with any sort of “interval” style training, the majority of CrossFit workouts are interval in nature which means, go hard, rest, go hard, rest. Hill sprints are a great way to get this effect through running, and it is, believe it or not, safer than you think. While running on flat surfaces reduce the risk of falling in a gopher hole and rolling an ankle, as you run harder on flat surfaces, you add more compressive forces over a longer distance and you must increase your stride rate or ROM to add intensity. The advantage of an incline, other than the kickass effect on the cardiorespiratory systems, is that you can work harder with more control, that is, as you push to the top of the hill, your stride rate becomes shorter and you move a little slower, reducing the risk of strains or moving beyond optimal ROM for the lower body.

How much should you do?  The cool part of hill runs is that, like CrossFit, you don’t need to be out there for that long and you don’t need that many reps to feel a benefit. As with anything involving intensity, it is best to ramp up. For those who have not done hill runs before, start with 1 or 2 moderately steep hills and once you reach the top, walk down and rest until you feel comfortable enough to attack the hill with SIMILAR intensity as your first. I typically do 4-6 sprints at MOST which last no more than 1 minute. Try them out. Every now and then I take a group to the big hill at Newhall Park in Concord, so if you’d like to be on that contact list, let me know!

Welcome On-Rampers!


Congrats to Renata, Ann, Nicholas, and Alex who finished up our On-Ramp program this week!  Keep an eye out for them in class and be sure to give them a warm welcome. This was a tough group an endured their first class in the toasty 100+ degree heat! If you or someone you know is interested in joining our next On-Ramp, stay tuned as we will be starting one in early August. You can find more information on our beginners On-Ramp course here.

Congrats to Jason and Stephanie!

2v_stephBig congratulations to Jason and Stephanie as they got engaged this past weekend!  While this isn’t the first couple at the Sweat Shop to get engaged or married, this IS the first couple to be engaged that first met at the Sweat Shop!  Be sure and congratulate Jason, Stephanie, and Charlie (Stephanie’s dad) when you see them at the gym.

1st and 4th at Summer Solstice!

ati_podiumTaneya & Rikus atop the podium this past weekend at CrossFit ATI.

Congratulations to our two teams that competed this weekend at CrossFit ATI’s 2015 Summer Solstice Competition.  Rikus and Taneya finished the day 1st overall, while Nick and Dana finished 4th overall!  Great job to all the teams as it was fun to watch our two Sweat Shop teams do battle with two teams from Diablo.

See more pics here.

Fran-Off Returns!

Our favorite lady has returned after a long haitus! You know what that means…The Partner Fran-Off is back! For those who don’t know, this is one of the most exciting competitions that we are a part of. This comp is a rewind back to the old school CrossFit days, no preparation, no complex scoring system, no big arena, just you and a teammate throwin’ down at a gym! This year it will be extra fun as we are going to team up with United Barbell for the action. It will be held at Sweat Shop on August 1st. The rules of the Fran-Off are pretty much the same as in years past and again with high stakes for the winners……2,000 bucks!

Here’s how it’ll go down: 
There will be 16 participants from Sweat Shop and 16 participants from United Barbell. This is a partner event in which the FranOff MC, Big Mike (aka M.J. ) will pull names out of a hat and assign each participant to a teammate of their own gym (You will not know your teammate until gameday). From there, it’s a double elimination, knockout style tournament…Every team for themselves! Although United Barbell will have teams, we all be going against each other.

The day, as always, is super fun, fast paced, and exciting to watch! The registration is $75 to enter, which covers shirts for all, 2 guaranteed Frans, and a 1/16 chance to win $2,000 bucks! That’s much better odds than a gas station lotto or scratcher! Because there can only be 16 participants, we will have a simple tryout at the Sweat Shop in the coming weeks. Remember, as in past Fran-offs and CT Throwdowns, a male/female pair usually is the strongest. So this is and SHOULD be a co-ed event!

Let’s take home the cash Sweat Shop!

Consistency Drives Adaptation

IMG_0924For a year, Melia worked on handstand pushups after every class. This morning she did 3 reps consecutive…RX’D!

Variety is one of the best training features in CrossFit. Trying out new skills keeps training fun as it is typically easier to stay motivated over the long hall when you have more to do. It is also an effective way to reduce holes or gaps in your fitness as you account for more areas that you typically wouldn’t in an overly-specified program. However, a proper balance of consistency to coincide with a varied program is just as important. When you have noticeable weaknesses in strength, gymnastics, or olympic lifts, you must work each with a little more consistently throughout your week….and for a longer period of time. A good example of this is doing extra strict pull-ups or ring dips for those still using bands or if you’ve avoided snatch work like the plague, hitting snatches twice a week. When you work on these “holes” more consistently and at the appropriate skill level, you will begin to make the physiological and neural adaptations needed to excel in that specific area. I see too often, folks starting strength programs or skill work only to finish it halfway or working on muscle ups for a month and then the next month…not touching the rings.

Be patient and stick with it. Don’t be in such a hurry to change it up right when you start to feel a minor benefit. Consistency….even if overkill, is what drives adaptation.

Box Jump and Achilles Health

plyo_box1716b_bAre box jumps evil?

For sometime now, whenever there is a workout with box jumps, you’ve probably heard me say during the WOD briefing, that I recommend “jumping up, and stepping down”, to reduce or hopefully eliminate any risk of injuring your achilles tendon.  With Julie Foucher’s recent achilles injury at this year’s Regional competition, the always hot debate is once again on the front burner.  There are a couple of different takes on this matter, but here’s mine.  If you participate in CrossFit competitions you’ll likely come across the box jump in a workout, and for most people, the fastest way is to jump down and rebound back onto the box.  While there is an inherent risk to any type of exercise, box jumps done this way, in my opinion, are more risky in regards to potential achilles injury.  Nonetheless, for many that compete, it’s a risk worth taking.  For everyone else, I recommend jumping up and stepping down.

Here’s a post that talks more about the topic.

Sweat Shop Ladies at Rookie Rumble


This past Sunday, Allison, Kelley, Melinda, and Rowena competed in the Rookie Rumble at Hercules CrossFit.  While this was Kelley’s second competition, it was the first for our other three ladies.  All of our ladies kicked some serious butt, and showed their grittiness as they pushed through the discomfort of three tough workouts.  Melinda even managed to finish within the top 10 overall!  While it was great to see these ladies step up when it came time to competing, it was also great to not only see fellow Sweat Shop members, and their family members there to support and cheer them on, but each of these ladies cheer one another on as each of them competed!

“Having” Muscle-Ups

15689560612_066e4396f5_zP.T.’s muscle ups have improved drastically over the years. So much so he can now do them in full lumberjack/drug cartel gear. 

I saw this pretty cool quote from CrossFit Games competitor Elizabeth Akinwale’s page about embracing the learning and progress of movements like muscle ups. It said, “You don’t have a muscle up or not have a muscle up. You have a work in progress somewhere between the first tentative attempt and absolute virtuosity.”

This quote is so true and should hit home for a lot of us when thinking about PRing or getting in the “muscle up club”. The work doesn’t stop once you get your first anything. After the excitement and thrill settles after getting your first one, you have to keep working at the skill before they become automatic. Or as the article suggest, approach the practice of the skill as it is ever evolving rather than viewing fails or misses as if you “lost it”.

Muscle ups seem to test everyones patience the most with this concept. Check out this post by Skill WOD creator and gymnastics coach, Dusty Hyland on drills for each parts of the muscle ups.

Rookie Rumble This Sunday!

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We have four Lady Sweat Shoppers competing this Sunday at the Rookie Rumble 8 in Hercules! For Rowena, Melinda, and Allison, it will be their first ever CrossFit competition and Kelley’s second! They have been training very hard over the past couple months and given the workouts, they are more than ready! If you can, take the short trip to Hercules CrossFit on Sunday and cheer them on! More info on the event can be found here.

Good luck ladies!

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