Building Bodyweight Skills: March Programming Notes

Breaking From Barbells

This month we're focused on developing Gymnastic/Calisthenic Strength. There are tremendous benefits to strength training using only body weight, including the increased potential to develop muscle types that aren’t as well addressed when working with barbells.

In a nutshell, there are three muscle-fiber types in the body: Type I, Type IIA, & Type IIB. Gymnastics has a higher propensity to develop muscle Type IIB, which generate the most power and force. In addition, gymnastics training requires the body to work in perfect unison, and demands a tremendous amount of balance, flexibility, and strength to be expressed.  

It’s All About Progressions

When training with barbells, you can easily increase or decrease the intensity by changing the weight. If something is too heavy, simply drop some weight and get back at it.

Gymnastics is a completely different animal in that we need to be able to identify the appropriate progression that will enable you to build capacity in a safe and effective manner. Since you are leveraging your own body weight to complete movements, you need to be able to understand how levers work in order to manipulate the load to feel lighter or heavier.

Here’s a couple examples:
If standard push-ups are too difficult, you can do push-ups off of an elevated surface (like a box) to decrease the load angle and make the movement possible. If Toe-2-Bar is too challenging you can perform Knees-2-Elbows in order to build the baseline strength required to eventually execute the T2B.

We will be showing you a tremendous number of progressions for each strength movement - aim to pick a progression that enables you to perform 3 sets of 5 reps successfully.

The Little Things Count

One thing to keep in mind is that every single body part has a place regardless of what the movement is. Part of the goal of most gymnastics movements is to create tension in the body (this helps with balance and rigidity). A common fault I see is when athletes fail to point the toes away from the body in movements like the pull-up, handstand, and hollow rock. Pointing the toes activates the quads and if you’re guilty of this not doing this regularly, you’ll probably start to cramp the first few times you give it a try. Stick with it, and in time you will bloom like a beautiful flower. 


Per the usual, if you have feedback to share hit me at I am waiting to hear from you. :)

Developing Strength: February 2016 Programming Notes

If you have yet to download the 2016 Level 1 Programming, you may do so here.

Powerlifting To Get Strong

This month, we are focused on leveraging 4 lifts for strength development: Back Squat, Deadlift, Strict Press, and Bench Press. The word “Powerlifting” is a bit of a misnomer as these lifts are typically performed without much explosiveness (i.e. power) unlike the Olympic lifts, which require a tremendous amount of power in order to be performed with heavy loads.

Why Two Presses?

These days, the sport of Powerlifting only includes 3 of the 4 lifts we are utilizing this month: Back Squat, Deadlift, and Bench Press. Way back in the day, the sport actually used the Strict Press instead of the Bench Press. But, competitors found that they could lift more weight in the Strict Press by employing excessive “lay-back”, which is essentially a hyper extension of the back that resembles a standing bench press with no bench. It then became difficult for judges to determine how much “lay-back” was permissible so they did away with the Strict Press altogether and replaced it with the Bench Press.

Both press variants are extremely valuable for upper body strength development and that’s why we’re using both in our training. 

Tempos, Bands, Burnouts, and Other Variants

You will perform variants of the aforementioned lifts in the form of changing tempo, adding band resistance, and changing range of motion. The higher level goal of all these variants are the same: to provide a different stimulus and force the body to adapt to something new. Training variance is proven to provide a much better stimulus (and result) on the body than merely performing the exact same movement pattern over and over.

With that said, whenever a new stimulus is introduced keep in mind that you should use working loads that are lower than what you would do normally to accommodate for the extra stress on the body. 

Total It All Up

I’ve programmed a couple CrossFit Total days at the start and at the end of the month. The Total is the sum of your best completed weight at three lifts: Strict Press, Deadlift, and Back Squat. It is the most commonly used Strength benchmark in CrossFit and serves as a good indicator for how you’re coming along in Strength development. While a cycle of 4 focused weeks is pretty short to develop significant Strength gains, I’m confident many of you will be able to set new PRs come month end. Keep in mind that there are 10 pillars of fitness in CrossFit. Strength, while important, is only 1 of the 10. 

There are many naysayers out there in the fitness world claiming you cannot develop both strength capacity and “cardio” capacity in tandem. Our goal this month is to prove them wrong. :)


If you have any feedback regarding the programming that you’d like to share, please contact me directly at Love it or hate it, I wanna hear about your experience. 

2016 Level 1 Programming

Programming For The Entire Year Is Here

The Level 1 programming for all of 2016 is complete and you can download the PDF guide here:

Marvelous CrossFit 2016 Level 1 Programming

I personally haven’t seen a box publish it’s entire year’s programming in advance and this is one of the things we’re doing to differentiate ourselves from the competition. Programming is the heart and soul of your experience and we put serious thought and effort into making it awesome. Every month, we’ll be publishing in depth analysis of the daily programming. For now, let’s talk about the entire year at a high level:  

Macrocycles, Mesocycles, & Microcycles

2016 contains two, 6-month macrocycles (larger training periods). The first transpires between January to June, and the second runs from July thru December. Each macrocycle can be considered a “complete” CrossFit training experience.

Each macrocycle contains six, 4-5 week mesocycles (smaller training periods) which are essentially a month long. Here is the focus for each month:

  • January - Baseline: Establish 1/3 RM for all major lifts and benchmark WODs.
  • February - Power Lifting: Focus on “absolute” strength development by developing the Back Squat, Deadlift, Strict Press, & Bench Press.
  • March - Gymnastics: Bodyweight strength is excellent for building both neurological and physiological adaptations. 
  • April - Clean & Jerk: Increasing technical competency in the C&J through the full movement, as well as it’s component parts like the Deadlift, Front Squat and Press variants. 
  • May - Kettlebell: The kettlebell is one of the most versatile and efficient pieces of workout equipment around and we’re going to show you all the awesome exercises you can do with it.
  • June - Snatch: The most technical lift you can do with a barbell.
  • July - Baseline Retest: Mid-year testing point to re-establish 1/3RM loads for the major lifts and times for all the benchmark WODs.
  • August - Power Lifting: Strength is a cornerstone of any solid fitness program.
  • September - Advanced Gymnastics: We’re talking about the stuff you see people do in the Olympics. Fear not - we have scaling options and progressions for every movement we teach.
  • October - Clean & Jerk: More positional work, complexes, and strength training pertaining to this particular lift.
  • November - Skill: A month of focused skill work to refine form and technique.
  • December - Snatch: Overhead Squats, Snatch complexes, and tempo work to finish off the year.

Each mesocycle contains four to five, 7-day microcycles (mini training periods) that include workouts varying several training conditions: load, duration, skill, reps, sets, and movement.

Here's how to make sense of it all:

Start with a single day of programming. 

String 7 days together to form a microcycle (one week).

Add 4 microcycles together to create a mesocycle (one month).

Layer 6 mesocycles together to complete a macrocycle (six months).

Add 2 macrocycles together to form the training plan for the entire year. Boom.  

How To Get The Most From Your Experience

The programming is thoroughly varied, broad enough to encompass all skill levels, and cohesive enough to ensure you achieve measurable progress. It doesn’t matter what days you train, if you attend at least 3 classes per week you will have a well-rounded experience. Here are some additional tips to maximize your training:

  • Avoid training more than 3 days in a row. If you’re going as hard as you should be, your body will want that 4th day off. There are some exceptions to this rule, but it is generally a good idea for 95% of our community.
  • Come on days you hate the programming. We naturally like things we are good at and hate things we suck at. This causes most people to cherry pick the programming and only come on days they like. Practice what you suck at. With enough effort, any weakness can grow into strength. 
  • Mobilize on your own. Taking 10-15 minutes per day mobilizing at home or early before class will reap tremendous gains in every other aspect of your training. 

WODs May Change

We strongly believe that a WOD should be tested by the coaches before we dish it out to the athletes. After testing a WOD, we sometimes adjust the loads, reps, or duration to ensure the best possible experience for you. So, please keep in mind that when you see a WOD on game day it may be slightly different than what’s contained in the PDF.

Questions Or Comments

After you’ve had a chance to review the programming, please send any questions or comments you may have directly to me at We constantly striving to improve your experience and welcome all feedback to help us achieve that. Happy WODing!


Q4 Programming Is Ready To Rock!

The final quarter of the year is upon us, and here's the programming to close out 2015:

Marvelous CrossFit Burlingame Q4 Programming

Here's some thoughts specifically on October programming:

Move & Mobilize

You'll notice on some days the programming appears as if it would not warrant the entire 60 minutes of class. That's done purposefully as we're focused on providing extended mobility sessions, per the feedback you've given us. The coaches are constantly digging for better mobilization exercises and leveraging a variety resources (Becoming A Supple Leopard, Mobility WOD, ROM WOD, Gymnastics Bodies, Trigger Points Therapy Workbook, etc.) so you can give your body the suppleness it needs to smash through the WODs. 

Balanced Attack

This month we're going back to our CrossFit roots and are specializing in not specializing. The WODs are designed with the traditional CrossFit spirit in mind so you can expect healthy doses of barbells, gymnastics, and mono-structural (running, rowing, jump rope) movements combined in fun and interesting ways. 

A Note On Intensity

One of the primary goals of CrossFit is to maximize intensity when performing WODs. One way to define intensity is work performed over a period of time. For this definition, there are a couple of ways to maximize intensity: 1) maximize the work performed for a set period of time, and 2) minimize the time required to perform a set amount of work. 

Work can be defined as the product of load and reps. While we will always have prescribed (Rx) weights for a given WOD, you should have an honest conversation with yourself on whether or not the prescribed weight is conducive to maximizing work. For example, if the load is too heavy for you then you will gas out early and will have to take too many breaks; thus overall work will be reduced. If the load is too light, you will plow through the workout without getting the muscle and systemic fatigue you are seeking. The trick is to find that sweet spot where the load is appropriate such that you can perform enough reps to stress you out, but not burn you out. :)

As always, please send all your thoughts and feedback about the programming to

New Classes, Labor Day Schedule, & More!

Launching 8PM Level 1 Classes Next Week

Starting Wednesday, 9/9, we are opening up 8PM Level 1 classes. We will continue to add more classes as the community grows and if there's specific class times you'd like to see on the schedule, reach out to Coach Ranier (

Special Labor Day Schedule

On Monday, 9/7, we are canceling all regularly scheduled classes and are offering Level 1 classes at 8AM, 9AM, and 10AM. In addition, Open Gym will be held from 11AM-12PM that day. Come join us for a special WOD that will be announced when you come to class. ;)

Introducing Coach Sean Fender

As many of you know, Coach Sean Fender has recently joined the coaching staff through the Marvelous Coaching Accelerator Program. Although he joined us as an intern, he actually has two years of coaching experience under his belt and we feel it's time for him to lead his own classes. Sean will be coaching the M/W 8PM Level 1's - please be sure to congratulate him when you see him around the box.

Here's a little more about Sean:

Sean comes to Crossfit Marvelous by way of Long Beach, CA. He found Crossfit back in 2011 as a way to stay in shape during his rugby off season, which he played for 2 years during his time at UC Santa Cruz. Sidelined by injuries, Sean eventually made the transition into the sport of fitness and hasn't looked back.

Sean has been coaching for 2 years at boxes around Southern California; he has a special interest in gymnastics skills, the Olympic lifts and competition.

"To me the beauty in Crossfit is how it leverages intensity to promote growth. As a coach I try to prepare my athletes, through good body mechanics and repetition, for that moment when they feel the intensity and start growing towards their potential."

Education: B.S. Earth Science - University Of Santa Cruz

Important Update For The Marvelous Community

More And More Marvelous Members

OMG! Our community is growing faster than a chia pet and while things are going great overall, there’s also some growing pains we need to address. We’re always working to ensure your experience continues to be marvelous and I’ll detail the updates as they pertain to each one of our three core principles: 


Passion is everything. It’s what drives us to jump out of bed in the morning and get cracking on the day. We absolutely love what we do and are pushing every day to grow better at it. 

Raising The Coaching Standard

If you’ve ever been to another box, you know we do things differently. The normal standard to operate a CrossFit facility is very low - all it takes is an application, a Level 1 Certification, and $3000. Our goal is to continuously set the bar for how a thriving CrossFit gym should operate. We’re nerdy and leverage software like Slack, Wodify, Trello, Mailchimp, Zendesk, and Coach’s Eye to ensure we’re operating as efficiently as possible. We continuously develop and practice critical skills like public speaking, reading body language, and understanding empathy in order to connect with you deeply and fully. Programming, the heart and soul of any box, is crafted 3 months in advance and we test and challenge the WODs and logic behind it to produce the best product. Starting 2016, the programming will be completed a year in advance.

Attracting The Best Talent

Our team has grown from 9 to 21 in the year and a half that we’ve been in existence. Much of this growth is attributed to the extremely robust internship program (the Marvelous Coaching Accelerator Program) we designed that enables us to groom the best talent into the best coaches. The MCAP is like a college level course that includes: textbook based exams, dozens of hours of hands on coaching, and lengthy weekend seminars. In the past 6 months alone, we’ve added several great coaches to the CrossFit staff:

  • Andrew Pacumio
  • Brandon Chien
  • Brandon Montaner
  • Aaron Bautista
  • Don Savella
  • Sean Fender

We’re only interested in working with the best because that’s exactly what you deserve.


Passion fuels our pursuit for excellence. While we will never be perfect, our goal is to constantly strive for it. Amazingness is infectious and we know if we are excellent then it is only natural for you to become excellent as well. Adamantium sharpens Adamantium. 

Servicing Your Exact Needs

We are your servants and in order to serve effectively we need to meet your exact needs. Everyone’s needs are different. Some athletes are newer and need fundamental feedback while others are seasoned and require more nuanced coaching. Where some enjoy working mostly with the barbell, others may primarily like to focus on conditioning. The challenge is to craft a broad, yet cohesive program that is all encompassing. That’s why we added new offerings like Triple S, Beginner Barbell Basics, and Nerd WOD; and we’ll continue to do so as we grow and expand.

Adding More Class Times

If you attend any evening classes, you probably noticed that many of them are near or at capacity. One way to mitigate this issue is to attend an earlier class - the average size of weekday classes before 5PM is less than 10. With that said, we obviously want you to receive a wonderful experience irrespective of the class time. So, here are some updates we’re making to the Level 1 class schedule starting 9/1:

  • Adding 7:00AM Saturday
  • Adding 11:00AM Sunday
  • Shifting all the evening classes to start on the hour and adding an extra Level 1 class on Tuesdays & Thursdays. The Level 1 Tue/Thu evening schedule will now be 5PM, 6PM, and 7PM. Once Monday and Wednesday warrant a third evening Level 1 class we will add an 8PM on those days.

While shifting the class times is a bit of an adjustment, it enables us to fit more classes into the schedule and balance the attendance across the board.

Increased Coaching Presence

In addition to expanding the schedule, we’re also more diligent about having additional coaches on hand for larger classes. Starting next month you can expect two coaches on hand for any class that is consistently larger than 15. You’ll also notice that there are often coaches enrolled in the classes alongside you - we’re always here to help even if we’re not officially on the clock. Any coach you find to be unhelpful shall be tarred and feathered. ;)


Passion is the fuel. Excellence is the vehicle. You are the destination. Without you, we’re just a bunch of bros and babes rocking Lululemon sitting in a warehouse full of stuff. Our entire existence is to provide you with the best fitness experience possible and one way to do so is to build a supportive community filled with like-minded individuals.

Building The Bonds

We’re working on more ways to build the bonds between the athletes. More social events, challenges, and outreach is coming in the near future. I’m working with some of the coaches to determine how we can assimilate the new faces into the community as quickly as possible. The initial changes will be primarily felt by Fundamentals graduates, and will eventually permeate through to the community at all levels.

Searching For A New Home

While our facility has served us well up to now, it is becoming increasingly clear that we need a bigger home to train in. We’ve been on the hunt since the start of this year and will continue the search until we find a perfect place to meet our needs. It will be in Burlingame and we aim to secure a space that is approximately 10,000 square feet - double the amount of space we have now. When the move transpires, our new home will be the largest CrossFit facility on the Peninsula.

We’re Nothing Without You

We cannot thank you enough for being such an awesome member of our community. Please trust we’re doing our best to serve you and anytime you have feedback on how we can improve your experience, please let me know. I’m so serious about hearing from you that I’ll give you my cell number: 650-515-0707. I probably won’t pick up but if you leave a voicemail I will definitely call back lol.

I’ll leave you with a story that a handful of you probably already know:

My CrossFit journey started in 2010 when I was 25 years old. I just finished my annual physical and learned I was clinically obese, at risk for Type II diabetes, suffered from hypertension, and had early onset of cardiac disease. I hit rock bottom.

One of my best friends - Anthony Santa-Iglesia - picked me up out of my misery and showed me the CrossFit way. While I couldn’t do a single pull-up to save my life and had a comical squat depth, he pushed me to stick with it. Within 6 months, I shed all the fat, built foundational strength, and grew into (at the time) the best shape of my life. 

Anthony continued to push me and planted a seed in my mind that I could help other people achieve the same kind of success he helped me obtain. That seed quickly took root and 5 years later the idea he incepted has grown into reality. 

While we’re far from where we envision ourselves to be, I’m tremendously grateful for so many things about this organization: the opportunity to do what I love, my amazing Co-Founders that have stuck by me since day 1, the hungry coaches that work tirelessly to be better, and YOU - the inspiring athletes we love to serve. Thank you for being you. 

New Marvelous CrossFit Class Offerings!

More Classes To Meet Your Needs!

As the community grows, it is our goal to provide additional class offerings to meet your specific experience needs.

Here's a list of classes that have already launched or will be launching in the near future:

Barbell Basics

Barbell Basics is an educational experience that goes step-by-step through the Squat, Deadlift, Overhead and Bench Press, and Rows. This class provides a positive, relaxed, and judgment-free environment where you receive individualized feedback in order to master these complex lifts. All skill levels are welcome (beginners are especially encouraged to come). Whether you want to take your CrossFit to the next level, dial in technique for competition or sport training, or to just learn something fun this class will not disappoint! Class is taught every Sunday @ Noon by Coach Brandon Chien.

Triple S: Sleek, Strong, & Sexy

The Marvelous CrossFit, Triple S Series is a special class to keep your body on point for the summer season. This 60 minute sweat session incorporates the best functional exercises to melt fat and build strength - resulting in lean abs, sculpted shoulders, and a tighter butt! Coach Maria leads you through a scalable workout using a combination of dumbbells, kettlebells, and bodyweight exercises; ensuring amazing results in a minimal amount of time. No experience necessary and both men and women will benefit tremendously by enrolling in this class. Sessions are held every Saturday @ 11AM. 


NerdWOD is a pilot class that replaces Level 2 @ 10AM on Saturdays beginning 8/1. Coach Ranier covers advanced workout techniques like mental game, optimal breathing, and WOD strategy. This class is for those that have been doing CrossFit for at least 6 months, and are ready to take their game to the next level. Come ready to workout both your body, and your brain!

Spaces for all classes are limited so be sure to reserve your spot in Wodify!

Welcome Coach Brandon Chien!


Brandon Chien Has Joined The Marvelous Coaching Team!

It's with great pleasure that we welcome Brandon Chien to the Marvelous CrossFit coaching team in Burlingame!

Brandon has started coaching a Beginner's Barbell class every Sunday @ noon and will have an increasing presence over the coming months.

Here's more about Brandon:

Brandon Chien is a "Mindful" Strength and Conditioning coach. He uses Barbell-based Strength Training and Meditation to guide people through their health and fitness journeys. He strives to create a community that makes it safe for everybody to make mistakes and grow into capable and vibrant beings. He also enjoys dancing in his stretchy pants like nobody is watching...even though they are.

May 2015 Athlete Of The Month: Joel Bito

CrossFit San Mateo Joel Bito

Q: How long have you been doing CrossFit? How did you get into it?
A: I started back at CrossFit Burlingame in June 2012 in the same fundamentals class as Coach K! Who would have thought that a random Amazon Local email would have started my crossfit journey? I remember walking in and seeing Coach R and Coach Lo flying on the bars doing butterfly/kipping pull-ups and I said to myself, "I want to do that".

Q: Were you into sports & fitness prior to CrossFit? Tell us a little bit about it.
A: Not really. I've been playing golf on and off since I was young, so if swinging a metal stick at a ball while driving around in a go-kart counts as a sport then fine. I also played tennis, mostly doubles, where I'd avoid running around by hitting the guy at the net as hard as possible with the ball. I also did karate and taekwondo, so I'm pretty decent at breaking stationary pieces of wood.

Q: What's your favorite cheat meal/food?
A: Pizza or where ever I get talked into going to after a difficult WOD... or any WOD really. 

Q: What WOD has brought you close to the "edge"? How did you overcome it.?
A: I'm pretty good at pacing myself and tuning out everyone yelling at me to go faster or push harder, but the one thing that will make me want to throw up would be heavy sled pushes. Not only does it make you want to throw up, but you can't even sit down to rest since your glutes are on fire the whole time. The only way to overcome it is to keep walking around or do another WOD, since sitting makes it worse.

Q: Who or What motivates you in CrossFit?
A: It might sound cheesy, but it's our Marvelous community. Whenever I'm too tired from work and not motivated to come to class, I think about all the folks that will be there waiting for me. They are probably just as tired as me, so it's time to just suck it up. Oh, and making sure I beat Will in a heavy lift is a good motivator too.

Q: Describe your greatest achievement in CrossFit so far.
A: Probably making it into 400lb DL club was pretty cool, but once I did it I realized it
wasn't that bad. I was also happy to hit my BW OHS; I didn't die so that's an accomplishment.

Q: What would your advice be to someone just getting into CrossFit?
A: Check your ego at the door. No matter how awesome you think are, don't think you can out squat the small quiet guy in the corner. You probably can't beat him yet, and you'll just end up hurting yourself if you try. Take it slow, learn the technique, and then become the badass of the box.

Q: What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of the box?
A: Most of my free time is spent with my dog Mochi. She's a Yorkie/Shih-Tzu mix and pretty awesome.

Q: Finally, what makes you Marvelous??? C'mon...gloat a little! =D
A: Besides being one of the "Angels" in the class, I think what makes me stand out is my laugh. I'm not sure if it's a good or bad thing, but my laugh can be heard through walls and cause others to start spontaneously laughing as well. It's kind of a superpower I guess. 

Marvelous CrossFit Burlingame WOD: 4/2/15

"Thrust This!"

Here's a fun couplet that I drew up and am looking forward to testing with the coaches later today:

20 Thrusters @ 95/65lbs
50 Double Unders
10 Thrusters @ 115/75lbs
50 Double Unders
5 Thrusters @ 135/96lbs
50 Double Unders
10 Thrusters @ 115/75lbs
50 Double Unders
20 Thrusters @ 95/65lbs
For Time