Will Lifting Weights Make Me Bulky?

Cróga PSA: For the Ten-Thousandth Time…Lifting Weights DOES NOT make you “bulky”

Before we get started, I must warn you, hearing someone say “I don’t lift weights because I don’t want to get bulky, I just want to be toned” is probably the number one thing that makes my skin crawl when chatting with people about fitness.

So, with that said, don’t be surprised if I’m a tad animated in my post below.

For months now I’ve followed a guy named Ben Bruno on Instagram, you can check out his account here: @benbrunotraining

I’m not exactly sure how I started following him, but if you sift through his profile you’ll see that he trains some professional athletes.

The thing that might stand out to you though, and how he relates to this blog post, is that he is a bit of a “celebrity trainer” and he works with a few ladies you might recognize, @kateupton, @barbarafialho1, & @chelseahandler.

What might also stand out to you is that his approach with these ladies is one that we strongly believe in, but is not the norm or what most people would expect. He has them squatting, deadlifting and moving heavy weights.

One of his recent posts is spot on with a conversation we’ve had with prospective and existing clients (male & female) hundreds, if not thousands, of times and we almost always answer the same way as Ben Bruno does.

So, ladies, and gentlemen, please stop falling into the cardio web of lies you’ve been fed for years and lift some weights.

And I’m not talking little tiny weights while sitting on a bike at the end of a spin class, they’re just doing that to trick you into thinking they offer weight training too.

And I’m also not talking about high rep, low weight circuit training thrown into your workout between trips to the treadmill, you’re not getting any stronger or leaner by doing that.

I’m talking about squatting, deadlifting, pressing and pulling things that feel heavy and doing it weekly.

Getting stronger WILL NOT make you bigger or bulkier, just see the girls below who do this if you don’t believe me.

Kate Upton:

Barbara Fialho:

Chelsea Handler:


P.S. If you want to come learn how to lift weights correctly and safely, we’d love to have you at @CrogaCrossFit. If you don’t live here or you don’t want to come to Cróga, please, find someone else to teach you how to move correctly and safely and lift something heavy. For the 1,000,000th time: YOU WILL NOT GET BULKY.

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Food For Thought: CrossFit Nutrition Poster

To continue the Poster Series I started last week with the CrossFit Theoretical Hierarchy of Development, this week we’re going to chat about the base of the pyramid, Nutrition, in even more depth.

Nutrition is of paramount importance because it changes us on a molecular level and without proper fuel, the body can only accomplish so much.

The original nutritional prescription laid out by CrossFit Founder, Greg Glassman, in his “Fitness in 100 Words” (seen below) is one that is quite simple, but very hard for many to follow.
It falls in line with what a lot of people would consider a Paleo diet, but I’d say it’s less restrictive and most likely just as effective.
Starting from the top and working your way down we go from the most important pieces to make sure you include at each meal and what should make up the biggest chunk of most meals (Meat & Veggies), to worst for you and what should absolutely be excluded (all processed sugar).
By being focused on eating real, quality foods and not allowing the urge to have too many processed carbs/sweets, most people can get pretty damn close to lean, strong and healthy, which is what will make you live longer.
So, in the interest of one of my favorite acronyms KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).
We always encourage our members to eat REAL foods.
Meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and NO sugar.
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Food For Thought: CrossFit Theoretical Hierarchy of Development

If you’ve been in to Cróga in the last week or so, you may have noticed a handful of new posters by the front desk and around the corner by the plates.

With those posters in mind, I’ve decided to do a weekly “poster series” where I chat about the different posters around the gym and their significance to our methodology and instruction.

So, first stop, the CrossFit Theoretical Hierarchy of Development.

When you look at this pyramid, you need to think about how each level depends on the support of the level below it.

So, level one of being happy, healthy and more fit is to eat right.

Nutrition is the foundation for all athletic development.

Poor nutrition will sabotage any amount of training and you will never reach full potential without your diet locked in and consistent.

This does not mean you have to be the guy/gal eating chicken and broccoli at Thanksgiving while everyone else is enjoying Turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie, but you do need to keep those bad meals and alcohol consumption to a minimum to make any serious impact on your health.

Level two on the pyramid is metabolic conditioning aka “cardio”.

To keep it simple here, you need to be able to breath well and circulate blood to your muscles well to be able to perform any of the movements above this step of the pyramid in any significant quantity.

You might be able to hit a 1 rep max back squat or do a couple pull-ups without being able to breath well, but if we start asking you to work for more than 30 seconds, you better believe having a aerobic engine will be important.

Level three is gymnastics and this is the one that I think most people don’t pay enough attention to.

Gymnastics movements are ones that involve you moving your own bodyweight or parts and pieces through space.

The better you are at knowing where you are in space, creating tension throughout your body and moving accurately, the better you will be at all other skills.

So, spend the extra time to work on your movement and fine tune the way you move so that you move more efficiently, which will help you last longer in workouts and move yourself and external objects with ease.

Level four is weightlifting & throwing aka moving external objects.

This could be cleans, snatches, wall balls, KB swings, deadlifts, weighted squats, etc. you get the idea.

It should go without saying that moving a barbell is a lot easier if you’re bodily aware and can move efficiently, which is why gymnastics falls below weightlifting and can help so much.

I once heard Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit, on a podcast talk about how working on a freestanding handstand will help you snatch more weight at a significantly faster rate than all the barbell accessory work (snatch pulls, drop snatches, hang snatches, etc.) we come up with because it’s more fun.

Level five is sport.

“Sport is the application of fitness in a fantastic atmosphere of competition and mastery.”

It is the pinnacle of the pyramid because sports are your opportunity to express your fitness and excel at a specific task that requires excellence in all the levels of the pyramid below it.

Finally, when you think of the five levels of the pyramid together, you start to get a full picture of what we mean when we say “A Theoretical Hierarchy of Development”.

“This hierarchy largely reflects foundational dependence, skill, and to some degree, time ordering of development.

The logical flow is from molecular foundations, cardiovascular sufficiency, body control, external object control, and ultimately mastery and application.

This model has greatest utility in analyzing athletes’ shortcomings or difficulties.

We don’t deliberately order these components but nature will. If you have a deficiency at any level of “the pyramid” the components above will suffer.”

I copied that last piece from the What is Fitness? article on the CrossFit Journal because the words are so eloquent and succinct that there is no way I could summarize them and do them justice.

So, with all of that said, I know we joke sometimes about “trust the process” at Cróga, but we’re very serious about that process.

We do breathing work daily, we teach gymnastics progressions or scale gymnastics pieces more than half the week, we move barbells more than half the week, and we encourage all our members to get out there and use their fitness by participating in sports or other athletic endeavors.

So, next time you’re worried about your progress in one of these levels, take a look at yourself and evaluate yourself on the levels below it.

Chances are, you need more work on your nutrition or breathing or gymnastics, not just to move more barbells…

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Food for Thought: My Why for 2018

Every year when January rolls around we all feel the need to create New Year’s resolutions and to set goals for the year ahead.

Inevitably, some goals we reach and others we do not, but the people that are often most successful throughout the year are those that have a deeper motivation than just hitting a 30 lb PR on their back squat. They have something that makes them enjoy the process and the journey, not just the end goal.

When I talk about a deeper motivation, I’m talking about something that really speaks to you.

Something that pulls at your heartstrings or something that you can be true to deep in your soul.

And this is where I think many people’s yearly goals end up failing them. They pick things that don’t really matter to them and try to accomplish them, only to fail to achieve whatever benchmark they arbitrarily chose because they don’t really care that much.

So, for 2018 I want to propose that we do things a little different.

If you already set tangible “goals” for the year, that’s great, don’t change them.

However, I want you to think about WHY you chose those goals.

What is your deeper motivation?

When you don’t really feel like going to the gym or your squat number isn’t increasing quite as quickly as you had hoped, what motivates you to get to the gym and try to improve yourself that day?

With that info, I want you to come to Cróga and write it on our goals board.

Put it out there.

Let everyone know.

On those days where you get to the gym and you’re feeling a little sluggish, look at your why and recalibrate.

And on those days that you have a little tougher workout or it doesn’t go quite the way you planned, take a peek at your why on the way out the door and remind yourself of the bigger picture.

Finally, if you’re not a member of Cróga, we’d love to hear from you about what your why is.

Shoot me an email,, and let me know what is driving you to be a better version of yourself this year.

And let me know if you can use our help, we’d be happy to work with you in person or remotely with coaching, programming or just friendly email motivation.

P.S. My why for 2018 is: To stay happy and healthy so I can be a good dad, husband, business owner and coach.


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Don’t blame the holidays, it’s not their fault

I saw this photo of a Snapple bottle top the other day and I couldn’t help but write a Food For Thought blog post about it because it hit the nail on the head.

The weather here in San Jose, CA has officially shifted to cold. Well, cold for us…

It seems like we’re going to work in the dark and getting off when it’s dark too. We’re only 13 days away from the shortest day of the year (December 21st)…

Even though we’ve gotten through Thanksgiving, Christmas is right around the corner and the end of year holiday party invites seem like they’re coming fast and furious…

Although I acknowledge all of these “facts”, I’m here to tell you that it’s not their fault.

Sure, they all make it a little less appealing to get to the gym, but acknowledging them and making the decision to not let them derail you is the true path to success.

The best way to avoid having to make the traditional “get fit” New Years resolution is to not stop training in the final three months of the year when all the excuses above become easy to use.

The coaches and other athletes at Cróga will greet you with a BIG SMILE when you walk in the door.

We’ll make it fun, get you warm, and make you feel good when you’re done.

We’ll give you a high five and possibly teach you something new about fitness or a random fact about the world.

I can promise you that when you stop at the gym instead of driving by because it’s cold and dark outside you won’t regret the decision you made.

After all, you’re the one in control.

So, don’t blame the holidays, it’s not their fault.

PS. If you’re looking for some help with accountability, we recently launched an awesome program called Uplift. It’s the perfect program to help you set a goal, come up with a plan to reach it, and be held accountable with weekly check-ins and monthly personal training included. AND, this program is available to Cróga Members and Non-Members.

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Food for Thought Friday – Moxie Madness 2015

This week’s blog post is a little different, it’s more informative for this weekend than anything, but hopefully it’ll result in some great community support.

This weekend we have two teams competing in a local Throwdown called Moxie Madness (

NOTE: Cróga will be CLOSED to encourage our community to attend and cheer our teams on.

For those that don’t know or weren’t around last year at this time, Moxie Madness is a team of 4 (2 men, 2 women) 2-day competition that is held each year on the East Fields of the stadium at San Jose State (Spartan Stadium).

There are 150 teams of 4, so there will be 600 athletes and a couple thousand spectators!

Some fun things that you can look forward to if you decide to attend (besides cheering on our teams) are:

vendor village with all the equipment and apparel you could imagine
multiple individual and team CrossFit Games athletes competing
a fun social atmosphere (our teams will have a couple pop-up tents and will be hanging out all day)
a beer garden for those 21+ that want to enjoy a cold brew while watching some fitness.

Our two teams and the heat times we have for them for Saturday are below:

The 290’s:

Steve Smith

Kristi Smith

Todd Leal

Allie Upland

Workout #1 – 9:52 am

Workout #2 – 12:00 noon

Workout #3 – Time TBD – Later on Saturday afternoon

The Good Guys:

Catherine Chambers

JohnBoy Lubisich

Megan Toeniskoetter

Drew Escarcega

Workout #1 – 10:30 am

Workout #2 – 12:36 pm

Workout #3 – Time TBD – Later on Saturday afternoon

One day tickets are $15 and two day tickets are $20. They can be purchased online ( or at the venue.

If you plan to attend, we suggest that you make a day of it. Bring your lawn chairs, picnic blankets, coolers with food and refreshments, and wear your Cróga Green to support the team!

We look forward to seeing you all out there. Good luck Cróga Athletes!

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