Contra Costa Throwdown Wrap Up


Big props to our two teams that competed at the Contra Costa Throwdown this past weekend.  Emily and Livi competed in the scaled category and finished 10th out of 37 teams!  This was also Livi’s first CrossFit competition!   On the men’s side of things, in true PT fashion, Patrick filled in to compete alongside Dragon in the Rx’d division.  For Dragon, this was his first Rx’d competition.  Their final ranking is still unknown as the online leaderboard which was tracking the scores was apparently hacked.  Regardless of placings, both teams performed awesome and worked really well together as teammates.  Among other things, one take away was that the Assault Bike is evil…. therefore expect to see more of that in our workouts at the Sweat Shop!  :)  Check out pics from the event here.

Featured Athelte: Rowena N.


Over the past couple of years, Rowena has be quietly, but steadily improving on all aspects of her fitness, including strength, gymnastics and olympic lifts.  Most impressive is that she almost always has a huge smile on her face…. seriously, the picture above at the top left is during one of the CrossFit Open workouts this year… and she’s smiling!  While she was originally a faithful 7amer, these days you’re much more likely to catch her at 5:30 or 6:30pm.  Check out her full profile below!

Name:  Rowena Nilo … soon to be Mrs. Dragon
Age:  33

Q.  How long have you been doing CrossFit?
A.  It’ll be 3 years this October.

Q.  What were you doing for exercise before CrossFit?
A.  Hula, a few 5k runs.

Q.  How did you begin training at CrossFit Sweat Shop?
A.  Mike, the “Dragon”, introduced me to Crossift.  When we first start dating, he always talked about the WODs and I just remember thinking how crazy he was for doing these crazy workouts. I also couldn’t understand why he couldn’t just call it a workout instead of a WOD.  He also mentioned Onramp, which I declined, but then he said he’d buy my first pair of crossfit shoes after completing Onramp and I was sold; anything for a pair of shoes.

Q.  What has been the most significant benefit or change since you’ve been a member of the Sweat Shop?
A.  It’s shifted my mentality in the gym.  If someone told me 3 years ago that I’d be lifting weights, I’d probably think they were crazy.  Crossfit has definitely taught me that I’m so much stronger than I think.  It also amazes me to see how much I’ve progressed throughout the years.

Q.  What is your favorite exercise or workout?
A.  Front squats

Q.  What is your least favorite exercise or workout?
A.  Snatches

Q. What is your favorite healthy meal?
A.  Paleo spaghetti

Q.  What is your favorite cheat meal/snack?
A.  Fries

Q.  What do you enjoy most about training at CrossFit Sweat Shop?
A.  It doesn’t feel like a regular gym at all.  Everyone at the gym is so welcoming; it feels like family.  When we work out together, we help one another and lift each other up when we’re not feeling up to it.  We also celebrate each other’s triumphs.  I’ve never experienced this at any other gym I’ve been to.

Q.  Now that you’ve been doing CrossFit, what’s one thing you could never see yourself doing again?  (workout, nutrition, lifestyle, etc.)
A.  Eating fast food every day.

Q. What is your proudest exercise related achievement?
A.  Doing my first Crossfit Competition.

Q. What advice would you give someone who is hesitant to try CrossFit?
A.  Try Onramp; it’s a great program for anyone and everyone.  They break down each movement and really focus on technique and form.

Q. What is your most sought after exercise goal?
A.  Bar and Ring Muscle Ups

Q.  What is something you have recently purchased for less than $100 (or acquired for free) that you thoroughly enjoy and would recommend to others?
A.  My knee sleeves.  They were given to me as a gift from Brian, and I use them almost every day.

Q. What advice would you give your 18 year old self?
A.  Don’t eat crappy food and don’t drink too much.  College is fun, but get in and get out.  Don’t get caught up in the party scene.

Regional Recap!


As you all know, Bri competed in the CrossFit Games California Regional this past weekend. I first want to echo what Nabil said on Monday’s post about the community! While it was a blast seeing our very own Sweat Shopper Bri do her thing, what made it extra special was being able to support her down there with the fellow community! Having the support of the community is what it’s all about and I know it was very important for Bri in her first crack at regionals as an individual! So, thanks again for all who made it down and cheered her on back home! I don’t want to try to take anything away from what Bri wants to share about her personal experience with you when gets back to the gym, so I’ll recap from the coaches eye.

Let me first start off by stating how tough of a field this regional was. As a team competitor the past 3 years, it was very noticeable to me how much it was “kicked up” a notch on all areas. A big part was the workouts. Strict muscle ups, heavy snatches and deads, and lots of volume. In addition to tough workouts, for the first time in a long time, they made CUTS for individuals via minimum work requirements. At the start of the competition, there were 38 women, and by day three, the field was cut down to 30 because several competitors could not complete the minimum work requirement (hence the WD symbol on the leaderboard). Given all of this, including that these chicks were the top 38 in Cali, we were super proud to see Bri complete all of the workout requirements which was proof that she not only deserved to be there but had the ability to compete amongst the best.

Day 1 was filled with excitement and nerves and Bri did very well considering the high stress format of the first workouts. Bri was able to finish all but 1 of the 8 snatches at the second weight at 145#! While she’ll probably tell you she was mad and wishes she could have hit it and got to the 3rd set, I thought it was very good considering the stage and it needing to be done in 2 minutes! Many might be discouraged in such a tough first workout but she stayed strong. She battled through some early nerves and tough judging in the strict muscle up event but pulled through late and got almost 4 rounds which beat some CF vets competing along-side her.

Day 2 was a total “Bri day”. Lots of volume and pain cave! The first workout started out with needing to complete 104 wall balls and 50 pullups in only 6 minutes! A couple women were eliminated right away as 1 pull-up was needed. This may have gotten some of them nervous in the later heats as some were just “escorted” off the floor and their weekend was done! Bri handled it very well, finishing the wall balls and getting 20+ pullups. The plan was to get a decent score there and then crush the second workout which was all in Bri’s wheelhouse, power cleans and pistols. She crushed it and took 13th, her best finish, beating a number of the Games chicks including the ones who qualified for this year’s Games! The day ended with some heavy deadlifts and running on the TrueForm. Bri took 19th. It was relieving to see her do well on the run considering she had a nagging ankle injury as well.

After a sore-inducing 2 days, day 3 had another hard set of workouts of skill and one of Bri’s least favorite movements, legless rope climbs. On the heavy overhead squat/handstand walk workout she was able to get 1 overhead squat on the final stretch taking 26th. To me, the highlight of the day and weekend was the final legless rope climb event. While she may not have showed it, I know she was worried about it. Last week in practice, her climbs weren’t going so well and she couldn’t finish the first set of 3 in the time cap. Even more so stressful, was that this was the minimum work requirement. Bri wasn’t going to make it to the final day and not finish that first set! Bri went out and smartly paced her thrusters and didn’t miss one rope climb! As a matter of fact, the rope climbs looked easy. She even finished the 15 thrusters and 1 extra rope climb in the second round! A round PR!

That final event really was special as we were all screaming after she completed each climb as we knew how much of a physical and mental struggle they’ve been in the past. She totally came through when it mattered. Although on paper or on the leaderboard this might have seemed like a fruitless achievement, as a coach, it’s what we look for in our athletes. It’s one thing to PR in practice, but watching you overcome while on the grandest stage means you’ve broken through. I know for sure these will be a weakness no more!

Great work, Bri! Sweat Shop is super proud of you. I know when I speak for all the members and your fellow teammates that you’ve motivated us to keep striving to get better!

If Meat Eaters Acted Like Vegans

This guy did it again. “That’s my food’s food, and I don’t appreciate you eating that.” I can laugh about both sides of the spectrum on this one. I was a vegan/vegetarian for 6 years and have been a meat eater now for about 5 years. This guy cracks me up, hope you get a good laugh!


regionals_groupReflecting back on the California Regionals this weekend in San Diego and I can’t help but realize how much things have changed over the years.  The venues have grown in size, which barely keep up with the growth in the number of spectators each year.  Meanwhile, the level of competition is growing at a rate faster than anything else!  It was absolutely mind blowing to see not only what the athletes are now capable of, but also how much the level of talent has risen in just the last year!

The one thing however that has remained is the support the Sweat Shop crew has always delivered.  While definitely not close enough for everyone to make the trip, it was great to be able hang out with so many of the Sweat Shoppers and  share the excitement of watching Bri battle it out with the top female athletes of California!  I’m once again reminded how fortunate I am to have such an amazing extended family!

Stay tuned for a complete recap from JB later this week as he coached Bri and help her strategize each of the workouts.

Bri Competing At The 2016 California Regional!

Image-1 (1)

The time has come! As you all may know, our Sweat Shop lady-beast, Bri, qualified for the California CrossFit Regional! In competitive CrossFit, this is a huge accomplishment! Bri travels to San Diego and will compete against the top CrossFitters of California; the best twenty from Nor Cal and best twenty from So Cal! The top 5 make it to the CrossFit Games! Since last year’s team regionals, Bri has spent countless hours at the gym honing in her strengths and improving on her weaknesses! Her 15th place Open finish was proof of her hard work. I know I speak for all the coaches when I say that she is more than ready to compete amongst the best! With the competition more stacked every year, we couldn’t be more proud than to have an athlete like Bri represent the Sweat Shop at this stage! Not only does Bri represent the stellar competitive team at the Sweat Shop, she truly is one of the most positive people in our community always going out of her way and finding time to cheer others on in their CrossFit events.

Be sure to follow and cheer Bri on throughout the weekend. The individual regional events are filled with events of a nasty combination of gymnastics skills, grit, and strength! Look out for her on the snatch and muscle up events as well as the pistols and overhead squats! You can find all of the events here. A couple Sweat Shoppers have made the trip down to San Diego, but for those who want to follow her online, you can watch the live stream here.

Heat times are typically posted and updated on this link, but as of now, no heats are assigned yet. Keep checking this link.

Good luck Bri! Have fun and crush it out there! The Sweat Shop family will be watching and always has your back! #SWEATSHOPSWAG!

Send your vibes to Bri in the comments!

Scapular Stability


Good scapular stability means we can do things like walk on our hands!

DJ is finding ways to improve his scapular stability so he can walk on his hands for fun! With that being said, I wanted to transition off of Nabil’s post earlier this week and spend a few moments talking about scapular stability. As some of you may know, the shoulder is a very complex joint that requires a great deal of stability AND strength. Since the shoulder joint is the one with the greatest range of motion and responsibility, it is the most vulnerable to injury. Your shoulders essentially act as a shelf in order to encourage proper tracking of the joint. Here are a few examples in exercises where scapular stability plays an important role in proper function…

Overhead Work. Any overhead work, whether it’s pressing a barbell, lifting a child, or moving luggage into the overhead bin on an airplane, requires scapular elevation to help the rotator cuff track properly. It moves, ideally, smoothly, but if you’ve got poor scapular function (rounded upper back or poor thoracic mobility), the upward rotation is halted and can result in some sort of impingement in the long run.

Back Squats. A strong scapular retraction is ideal in order to urge the rest of the torso to stiffen and create that “shelf” for the bar to lie on.

Rowing. Whether you are performing some sort of rowing movement (rower, barbell, pull ups), it is all about scapular retraction. You’re not just going to yank anything off the ground or wildly pull yourself up for a pull up because you’d probably injure yourself. Setting your shoulder blades back and keeping them tight creates a safe, linear path for your primary rowing muscles to travel.

Check out this article from Mark’s Daily Apple on how to maintain shoulder mobility and scapular stability. If you would like some good shoulder stability/strengthening exercises feel free to come in early to class and ask Nabil, JB, Rene, DJ, or myself. We’d be glad to help you maintain awesome scapular function!

Chia Seed and Endurance

llison knows a thing or two about endurance.

Chia seeds have gained some major popularity in the last few years. I started adding chia in my diet a few years ago while training for endurance events. My training partner at the time turned me on to it and I’ve had it almost everyday since. Nowadays I sprinkle chia seeds on my morning goat yogurt or add it to my home made kombucha. Check it out!

What Is Chia Seed?

Chia seed is a whole, raw food great for vegetarians and carnivores alike that has served as a superfood for the Mayans and Aztecs as far back as 3500 B.C. In fact, the word “chia” is a Mayan word meaning “strength.” It is still consumed today in locales like Mexico and even in the American Southwest in a drink called “Chia Fresca,” in which chia seeds are added to water or fruit juice and consumed for sustenance. Members of the Tarahumara tribe from Mexico’s Copper Canyon drink this tasty concoction to sustain them as they run up to fifty miles a day, making them easily known as the world’s greatest runners according to The National University System Center for Integrative Health.

Chia seed is a high quality protein source, which makes it perfect to add to a daily protein shake like Joe does or to help amp up any vegan diet. It contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, which means it is great for digestion and regularity – something both athletes and couch potatoes can benefit from. Chia seed is also rich in antioxidants – Dr. Oz has compared it to the antioxidant power of blueberries, which boost immune support like no other food – and it is one of the most concentrated sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids. Chia seeds have many benefits, including bolstering energy and endurance, prolonging hydration, helping to maintain blood sugar balance, and even assisting in weight loss. It’s no wonder it’s such a hot-ticket superfood!

Read full article here 

Dominating Pec Minor

matt_overheadMazzei, overhead with ease.

Some people can get into a proper, stable overhead* position with little to no effort.  For many others it’s quite a struggle, and even when we are finally able to get the bar up there, often times it’s not in the perfect position, therefore it doesn’t feel very strong or stable.  There are several possible things that can cause this, one of which is the pectoralis minor.

Check out this post from a site I recently came across.  If you have time, check out some of the other posts and videos on the site as there is a lot of information there!

*By overhead I’m referring to the press/push press/jerk position, not the overhead squat.

Weighted Pull-Up Challenge Winners!

IMG_0295 Jack on the way up!

Congrats to Jack, Taneya, Joel, and Jen M, who won the “Weighted Rope Pull-Up” challenge! Gym members had 3 weeks to perform a 1-rep max weighted pull-up on the rope handles. No kipping was allowed. These folks put up some crazy heavy numbers that would be impressive enough if it were simply on the bar, let alone on the rope! Here were each of the winners of the Hiroshi Catering voucher in their respective division! Congrats everyone! Keep a heads up on the next challenge!

Jack: 133#
Taneya: 44#

Masters 40+ 
Joel: 98#
Jen M: 31#

Band Up!

cj_deadlift“Band Up” for a stronger deadlift, right CJ?!

Bands! We use them for pull ups, ring dips, pistols, and stretching most of time. But! Have you ever tried using them for your squats or deadlifts?! If not, I wanted to take this time to introduce you to the concept. If you’ve done squats or deadlifts with us at the Sweat Shop before, which should be most of you, you’ll notice that there are sections of the lift that are more difficult than others. For example, on a deadlift, the hardest part is getting the bar moving off of the ground and it usually gets a little easier once we pass our knees and get closer to the lockout position. Even on the squat, the top portion of the lift is usually the easiest. Now, how does band work help the overall lift? Bands allow you to put in the same amount of effort/work through the ENTIRE lift, or the ENTIRE range of motion. As in, it makes the top portion of the deadlift and squat equally difficult as the bottom portion. Not only will this help build your overall strength, but incorporating band work into your lift also translates into our clean or snatch quite nicely as well.

Struggle getting out of the hole on a clean or snatch? Or do you struggle with keeping tension in your midline when trying to get from the first position to third position? Try some banded front squats or deadlifts for a few weeks and I’m sure you’ll notice a difference!

It takes some creativity to set up the bands for the squat or deadlift, so feel free to ask Nabil, JB, Rene, DJ, or myself to help you PROPERLY/SAFELY get going!


Local Competition – Sunday May 22nd

CCTD Flyer (1)

There is a local competition coming up in about 2 1/2 weeks that will be held at Concord High School, just a few quick minutes from the Sweat Shop!  It’s a partner competition with both Scaled and Rx’d divisions!  As of right now I know that Livi and Emily will be competing and I’m encouraging anyone else that is interested in doing their first CrossFit competition, or anyone else who has been biten by the competition bug since the CrossFit Open to sign up ASAP!  Most of the workouts have already been released and the movements for the Scaled division are doable for most people.

Since there are no more event t-shirts for participants that now signup, they are offering a discount code CCTD-fnf

Sign up here.

Bent Over Barbell Row

Dragon is ready for Barbell Rows. Are You?

Most of our day to day activities tend to pull our posture forward. Think about the way you drive, type on the computer or simply stand. Chances are, if you are not cognizant of your posture, you are being pulled forward. It can be easy to over develop our Anterior Delt and Pec muscles with all of the pushing activities in our day to day, along with the many pushing exercise available in CrossFit. With overdevelopment comes the possibility for injury. So before we get to that point, let’s talk one of the many exercises that, when done correctly, can greatly strengthen your back and lead to injury prevention.

The Bent Over Barbell Row is on the docket for tomorrow. It is not programed in a Metcon for a specific reason. These should be done for quality, not quantity. Barbell Rows can easily be “cheated” by not retracting your shoulders back and down. You should feel your lats and traps activated during the entire movement. Keeping your back flat is key as well as being slow and controlled. Remember, these are for quality and save the grit for Part B.

Nutrition to Increase Testosterone

greyson_splitAt just 20 years old, Greyson doesn’t need to worry about his testosterone levels dropping off anytime soon.  

Aside from gainz in the gym.  Healthy levels of testosterone are important for men to feel their best.  While I’ve heard of several of these nutrition points, there were a few, including the first one, which I had never heard before.

Keep in mind that I do understand that just because something has been posted on the internet, that does not mean it is scientifically proven.  But at the same time, just because something has not yet been scientifically proven, doesn’t mean that it does not work.  Also, while I post this, it doesn’t mean that I fully believe all the content, rather, I’m offering it up for review and discussion.

Nonetheless, here is the one I found most interesting:

1. Eat More Cruciferous Vegetables

Why: We want to keep testosterone and estrogen in a certain balance. When that balance heavily favors estrogen in men, it is a sign that testosterone is being aromatized (converted) into estrogen, which is not good.

How: Eat cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, radishes, kale, watercress, bok choy, broccoli, and cauliflower. When these foods are ingested, they release a phytochemical that helps the body with estrogen metabolism11 and clearance.

Read the entire post here.

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