Core Value Number 3 – Excellence

After a brief hiatus due to the Athlete Open we are back to making our way through the CFA core values. For those of you that missed my original article on CrossFit Austin’s Mission and Core Values take a few minutes to read through it for context on today’s article.  Just to review, here are the CrossFit Austin mission statement and core values:

CrossFit Austin: The Catalyst for Personal Evolution

Today’s concept is simple, commit to excellence and strive to always be better.

Excellence is about never settling. Never settling for good enough, not being content with average, always looking for avenues to learn more, and work harder.

Excellence is about commitment. Commitment to always reaching a little higher, learn a little more, push a little further, and work a little harder. Doing what others won’t. Perfecting the little things.

Excellence is putting your absolute best effort in whatever you are doing. Whether you’re training, coaching, or just walking the dog.  100% effort is all we can ever ask of ourselves, and is always what’s expected.

Ultimately we want everyone at CFA to be the best version of themselves everyday. To find their perceived weaknesses, the things that make them uncomfortable, and have the courage to fight through them to achieve excellence in all they do.

-Coach Wes

October’s Athlete of the Month: Jose Gonzalez

State your Name and/or Nickname please:
Jose Gonzalez. No nickname yet, but hopefully I’ll work my way up to one.

Words to live by?
“With great power, comes great responsibility” and ” It is in our darkest moments that we must focus on the light”

What is your fitness background?
Well I never had a fitness background. I was overweight most of my life, and if I was in a sport I was usually the backup or benchwarmer.

How long have you been CrossFitting?
It has been 7 months.

What’s your favorite part of CrossFit Austin?
It’s the community! The people and coaches are awesome! It’s nice to be a part of a community that’s very supportive and encouraging. The tips I receive to improve my movements are always appreciated, and I feel like I might not have made these improvements without that help.

What are your training goals?
For now I want to try to make it back to 150lbs, but I’m in no rush. I’m OK where I’m at, but it doesn’t hurt to get stronger and lift heavier.

Favorite sport or activity?
Does guitar hero count as a sport? Ha! I like to listen to music, reading comics (yeah, I’m a nerd), or just going out for a run.

Recent adventure you’re planning?
The next big thing I have planned is a trip to Philadelphia after graduation next May, so I can get a tattoo!

Tell us something we don’t know about you…
Well I used to be overweight, I was up to 400lbs. I actually never thought I would loose that weight, and never thought I would be where I’m at now. Luckily I had a friend who gave me awesome diet tips, and a handful of workouts to do, and as time passed I lost up to 200lbs, and I’m still in shock that I did that. I never gave up on what I wanted, and never will.

Longhorns or Aggies?
Neither. I’m not a fan of college football, but if I had to have a team it would be Notre Dame because of the Rudy movie.

Jose, you started coming to CFA shortly after your friend Ed started with us. Tell us what it’s like to CrossFit with your friend and how competitive do y’all get?
It was fun! It had been a while since I hung out with him, and it was cool catching back up with him. Ah men, there was competition between us, and there seemed to be an unspoken agreement of bragging rights on the line, but it might have just been me. He was the guy that I tried to catch up to or do better than. It was helpful because now I have that drive to push myself, and if I ever go to a 530am workout (or if he shows up) I wanna see if I’ve caught up to him, or what I gotta work up to.

Leave the fine folks of CrossFit Austin with some parting words…
Never give up. No matter how things may seem, we can all overcome any odds. It’s just gonna take that extra push for us to get there, but it’s possible.



Welcome, New Members!

September brought in a great group of new members and just in case you haven’t had the chance to get sweaty with them yet, we would like to introduce:

Mayela Barreda Kristine Bartley Jessica Brubaker Logan Dugas
Tanner Fedell Adrian Flores Melanie Flores Lindsey Guelde
Kelley Harber Morgan Hendon Mary Key Steven Lyons
Rahul Neulkar Girlbet Nervalez Keyon Odell Erin Parsons
Rachael Paulson Jannica Py Kirbi Sullivan Courtney Thomas
Victor Vaesa Ganesh Viswanathan Brandon Whitehead

New members: The CFA community is full of awesome people and fun events! Be sure to check the events calendar for upcoming events.

Current members: Be sure to introduce yourself to any new faces, learn names, make friends, and remember, we don’t workout with strangers!

The Clean Part II

Last week I discussed the proper hand positioning on the clean and changes that can be made to make your pull and rack position more efficient.  I generally look at things such as hand and feet positioning early on when working with an athlete.  These little changes can dictate the start position of the pull, the contact point of the hip position, and bar trajectory.  So it is obvious that we must address these issues before working too much on the actual pull.  Once I have the athlete in the proper set-up then we can continue to the pull.

The Set-Up
How we set-up for the clean is one of the most important and overlooked positions in weightlifting.  How we initiate the pull from the ground, ultimately dictates how successful the lift will be.  There are some simple cues that you can keep in mind to get a better pull.

First we start with where the bar is located in comparison with the shoulders.  In the set-up, or “lift-off” position, the shoulders should be directly over the bar, as demonstrated by the above International Weightlifters.  This position allows the athlete to utilize the legs to drive off of the floor and in an overall better position throughout the pull, especially from below the knee to above the knee.

Starting with the shoulders too far in front or behind the bar will cause the athlete to be pulled forward resulting in the hips rising too fast in comparison to the shoulders.  This will cause a straight or slightly forward bar trajectory, or what Bud Charniga refers to as  the “toppling over effect”.  As a result of being pulled forward two things often happen.  First, the athlete will jump forward in an effort to reposition the body in a place to properly receive the bar, which is not a consistent or efficient technique.  Second, along with jumping forward the athlete will extend the hips to the bar pushing to the ball of the foot too early, pushing the bar into “loop”.

Now that the shoulders are in a proper position directly over the bar, we can turn our attention to where the bar is located over the foot.  The bar needs to be located over the mid-foot, whether that be against the shin or away from the shin.  I usually have athletes start with the bar over the metatarsophalangeal joint, or the joint of the “big toe”, and go from there.  When initiating the pull from the ground the athlete needs to push from the mid-foot to heel. Doing so allows the athlete to not only utilize the legs once the weight is off the ground, but it also initiates a proper bar trajectory by having the bar pulling in towards the hip at a slight angle which also starts the “S-curve”.  If the bar is too far back on the foot it will  push the shins into a vertical position and as we will go over next time, we want a vertical shin in the “Below Knee Hang” position, not off of the floor.  Staying over the bar in the hang is crucial for a proper bar path, but this is not a strong position to pull off of the ground.  Focus on pushing your feet down into the ground and use those strong legs!

-Thomas Lower

CFA Welcomes Our Newest Coach: Lindsey Guelde!

From CFA Management:Lindsey
CrossFit Austin is proud to introduce the newest member of our coaching staff, Lindsey Guelde!   Lindsey joins us from Ocala, FL where she has coached and cultivated her passion at CrossFit Pinnacle since 2010!  We’re excited to have such a passionate and experienced coach join the CrossFit Austin team!

About Lindsey:

Lindsey was born and raised in Ocala, FL and ended up pursuing an active lifestyle after high school. After a year or two of consistently working out in a regular gym setting, she began looking for something competitive for more motivation and turned to Figure shows. Unfortunately this wasn’t the best atmosphere for her body image with the constant dieting down, carb-ing up, and hours of cardio which led her to an unmotivated state; then along came CrossFit! Alas something that could focus on performance rather than looks! Once she gave her focus and time over to CrossFit she was really able to see not only her body, but her mind transform into the best, most confident shape imaginable. This October will mark Lindsey’s fourth year of being an avid CrossFitter and the knowledge she has gained along the way is absolutely priceless. Lindsey’s coaching career began in 2010 at CrossFit Pinnacle in Ocala, FL where she was able to learn and develop her own style of coaching, start a women’s program, take part in CrossFit Kids, as well as lead Fundamentals programs for beginners. Lindsey’s main goal is to constantly learn and be challenged into new ways of thinking every day to better provide a higher level of coaching.

What’s The Deal With All These Goblet Squats?

If you haven’t noticed, the last 3 weeks of our Performance program has really focused on moving better. Specifically we’ve spent a lion share of our time trying to improve your squatting. Today I’m going to touch on the use of the goblet squat and also give you some ideas around implementing them in your warm up warm-up (amirite?) so you can continue to improve this fundamental movement as we move on to more complex squatting variations.

 Goblet Squats

I’ve fallen in love with the goblet squat. In my opinion the goblet squat works incredibly well for improving the squat because it has a built in feedback quality that you can’t find in your typical air squat. The front loaded weight naturally encourages an upright torso due to the decreased load placed on the shoulders and grip. Having the elbows inside the knees forces the athlete to drive the knees out to allow for the required space. Lastly, with the weight placed snugly against the chest, athletes“sink” into a deeper squatting position. Quite simply, it feels more natural and comfortable to go lower, which allows for the full range of motion to be reached at the hip and ankle joints. So why is all this important? Because we essentially have an exercise that can be performed with very little guidance while improving those oh so important squat mechanics. It’s like the self-checkout line of squatting.

How do we continue to progress?

Now that we’re all in agreement that goblet squats are the squatting secret sauce, how do we implement them outside of our regularly scheduled program? Simply do them every day you walk into the gym, a set of 15-20, 3-5 times a week will suffice. Be creative. Try different weights, different tempos, adding pauses and even alternating between a dumbbell and a kettlebell. Just make sure you split up your reps in a fashion that doesn’t encourage a lot of fatigue.

The reality is, dedicating two minutes per training session to helping your squatting mechanics and fundamentals will pay big dividends in the long run. So, grab a kettlebell or a dumbbell and get to squatting! You’ll thank me later!

Wes Kimball

Core Value Number 2 – Community

communityWe are taking a quick break from the Beyond the Bar Podcast to get a few more articles in about our Core Values this week. Again, for those of you that missed my article on CrossFit Austin’s Mission and Core Values take a few minutes to read through it for context on today’s article.  Just to review, here are the CrossFit Austin mission statement and core values:

CrossFit Austin: The Catalyst for Personal Evolution

Today we tackle community.  Community was something that we wrestled with including in our core values simply because it’s become such a buzzword and lost a lot of its original meaning.  But, the more I dug in, the more I realized that the community of CrossFit Austin is still a major driver and motivator  for folks.  Our community has most assuredly grown and evolved over the years.  So much so that I’d say our community has several “neighborhoods”. Regardless, it remains a source of pride and motivation for those that are a part of it. But, why?

Ultimately we all want to be something bigger than ourselves. We want that “tribe” feel where everyone holds each other accountable, works incredibly hard, and commits to never giving up. At a primal level we all have a common goal of bettering ourselves, and the people that surround us are the ones that ultimately push us through the difficult times and over the bumps in the road on the journey towards that goal. As Adrienne so eloquently put it, the community is here to  “support each other even with something as simple as a welcoming smile”.  Whether we call it community, teamwork, or family, it’s when hard work is directed at the well being of the collective that the power of that work greatly outweighs work or actions that are selfishly driven. Thats how we put power back into a silly buzzword like “community”.

-Coach Wes

The Clean – Part I

You sink in the hook grip, take a deep breath and squeeze your chest high.  The bar starts to move off of the ground, your knees come back and your chest stays over the bar as you prepare to rip it in half.  The bar flows, picking up speed as it meets the top of your thighs at the exact moment you extend explosively straight up. Keeping your chest back, you keep pulling as your body drives like a bullet under the bar whipping your elbows around as you simultaneously rack the bar and plant your feet.  With your elbows up through the clouds, you drive your feet into the ground and stand the bar up like Zeus rising from the clouds. Then you drop the bar back to the ground, look up with satisfaction at Coach Aaron as he says “Good, now add 5kg”.  You add the weight and do it all over again.


The clean is a widely used weightlifting movement in both the strength and conditioning and CrossFit world, for good reason.  Not to mention that the clean is an explosive movement that requires vicious hip, knee, and ankle extension.  It also has a much shorter learning curve than the alternative, the Snatch, because of the receiving position and length of bar path.  So, if you are looking to improve the Clean, here are some easy tips to get the bar moving.


Hand Position

Hand position in the Clean is just as important as it is in its counterpart, the Snatch.  When you take a look at where your hands are located you have to take three things into consideration: The position of the bar at the hip, turnover, and rack position.

Most of us will not have the bar sit in our hip pocket, however, we want the bar as close to that position as possible for a couple of reasons.  The closer the bar is to the hip the closer we get the bar to our center of gravity when it meets the body.  This will obviously make the finish and receiving the bar much easier.

Now, for the turnover. I tend to disagree what a lot of coaches preach. I do not believe that widening your grip will automatically speed up your turnover.  If you look at it from a pure scientific standpoint, then theoretically the bar would turnover faster with as wider grip, but I believe that you are stronger and can pull the bar around quicker with a slightly narrower grip.  This is why many Weightlifters clean with a narrow grip and readjust the bar with a wider grip if they prefer to jerk that way.  The trick is to find out what is most comfortable for you.  Start with your grip at the same as your front rack position. If you feel that you are hitting too low and it does not affect your turnover or rack position, then widen your grip.  Make sure you take small, finger width jumps each time.

When you are adjusting hand position you must consider your rack position.  If you widen your grip out too much your rack position will be affected, and if you cannot rack and receive the bar then the width is counterproductive.  A comfortable and strong receiving position is imperative to being successful in the clean.

Lastly, here is a quick little tip I will leave you with.  Tilt your wrists slightly back towards the bar before you initiate the lift.  This will help keep the bar back into the body through the 2 and 3 position.  Make sure to catch Part II of the Clean where I will be covering the pull and changes you will see in the weightlifting warm-ups for Foundations and Performance.

Coach Thomas

Core Value Number 1 – Purposeful Training

For those of you that missed my article on CrossFit Austin’s mission and core values last week take a few minutes to read through it for context on today’s article.  Just to review here are the CrossFit Austin mission statement and core values:

CrossFit Austin: The Catalyst for Personal Evolution

  • Purposeful Training

  • Community

  • Excellence

  • Integrity

  • Fun

Today we’re going to dive into what it means to train with a purpose, and why it is at the top of the list.

Simply put, purposeful training is planned training with planned intentions for outcomes.  We understand that every person that walks through our door hopes to gain a certain outcome from the hard work that they put into their training. You know what you want and you have a simple understanding of what actions you need take to get there. It’s our job to add a purpose to those actions and make sure they’re focused in the right direction.

As we dig deeper we understand that knowing the importance of the why is just as important as the what  Having reason behind the training ensures that athletes and coaches can create an environment and support that welcomes questions and communication.  As the old cliche goes, give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. We see training in the same light. It should be a learning experience that allows athletes to not only work hard, but make intelligent decisions about their work.

Ultimately everything we do as coaches and athletes is about intention. Actions without intention lead us nowhere and since physical training is the foundational service we provide, it’s imperative that everything we ask people to do has as an intention to it, regardless of how general or specific that intention may be. Constant growth and progress over the long haul boils down to taking the correct actions based on the best intentions. This is the essence of what CrossFit Austin is here to provide, and should be the foundation of any training program.

Wes Kimball