Monday, September 7, 2009

Whoof, been a while.

Not that I haven't been working out, but my consistency in journaling the workouts has been lacking. Thing is, I haven't felt that it's all that interesting to write entries like:

Day 60 - leg still hurts, still doing rehab and mobility exercises. This still sucks.

So okay, I've been back to doing real lifting for - well, 3 weeks now, for some values of real lifting. Like I was complaining to Jim Smith of Diesel Crew the other day, my my flexibility is shot and form on my lifts has turned to crap, and the weights I'm pushing are almost ridiculously low.

Still, I'm doing it and as I would tell anyone else - so what if your weights have gone done down? Apply some consistency, focus on form while doing the lifts, add weight to the bar each workout when you complete all the target reps with good form, and you'll be lifting respectable weights soon enough.

In other news, I'm taking pure math this semester at Uni - mostly because there wasn't any relevant programming courses going on and I could use the practice. Even if pure calculus is rarely used in most day-to-day programming outside of specialized science applications.

Ah, well- I've got a pretty light course load which leaves me more time to play around on PubMed and other databases; and the university is kind enough to supply me with fulltext access to just about every medical database online which is potentially dangerous for my inner information sponge/geek ;)

Some notes on today's workout:

Warmup: Mobility drills from Magnificent Mobility.
Workout:Starting Strength (2nd edition), workout B.

Squats: ramping 5@132lbs, 5@176 to work sets 3x5@198lbs
Military press: ramping 1x5@88lbs to work sets 3x5@100lbs
Power cleans from the hang position: ramping 1x5@110lbs to work sets 5x3@121lbs

Finish: eating my own Dog Food - the circuit workout I made up for Abbey.

5 Pushups
10 Mountain climbers
10 bodyweight squats

Discussion: I'm using the Starting Strength template again rather than something more advanced 'cause I want/need to get the lift numbers up to snuff as quickly as possible and a basic barbell program is the way to do it. Could have gone with the "stripped" 5x5 template instead, but this program is an old and comfortable friend that I know just about how it'll go when I'm doing it. Numbers are up 11lbs on all the lifts from last week with better form which means I'm at least on track to getting back to semi-respectable weights within this lifetime. Depth and form was better on the squats today, though I'm wondering if I should strip some weight from the bar and practice form more before I develop bad habits I wouldn't tolerate in anyone else.

Low-calorie food for thought anyway.

After doing the heavy lifting I went and did the conditioning finisher I designed for Abbey - I could probably have done a few more rounds if I'd done it first, but there's no way I'm going to do a metabolic circuit/conditioning workout before the heavy lifting.

I still did 15 rounds in the allotted 20 minutes. Beat that, if you can ;)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Okay, getting back on the road.

Rehab sucks. Just does. So does not training for realses; while you can do a lot with just diet and being sensible there's no denying that the body was made to be used and I just feel like crap when I'm not properly working out.

So okay; I haven't been doing anything really workout-wise since my surgery; some rehab and single-leg training doesn't count. Neither does that Pavel Tsatsouline concept I've been playing around with of sub-maximal high-frequency training. I've gone from 4-5 chinups being a bit hard to 10 being just on the edge of uncomfortable over the past two weeks which is nice, but it's time to get back to doing something a little more training-like.

At the same time, it's been a while so it's important to not overdo the beginning either; I'm not as much of a fan of being crippled by DOMS as I used to be.

Some notes on today's workout:

So today's workout I've kept pretty simple: in addition to the chinups at intervals throughout the day. (I've done 3 sets of 9 reps and one of 10 so far) Front squats supersetted with military press, 3x10/3x5; same weight (95lbs or thereabouts), which is barely a warmup for squats and a decent working weight for military press.

Back squat: 5@135lbs, 3x5@176lbs. - which is 'decent for a first workout after damn near two months off, but nowhere near my working weights before the leg surgery. I could easilyy have gone higher to be honest but meh, tomorrow's going to suck enough as it is with DOMS from first serious leg workout in forever ;)

I've been spending the down time productively though, with watching coaching videos from Dan John, Mark Rippetoe, Dave Tate and a whole bunch more people and I've tried a few new things for both setup and walkout today. And yep, I've learned that I've been doing a less than optimal setup/walkout- one of the reasons I felt like I could easily have done more today was on account of how tight the new setup felt; from the lift off the rack to returning the bar I was a lot more stable through the whole lift and increased stability translates into more weight moved.

Actually, I felt like I was gaining stability through the whole squat set which is unusual; the last set of five reps went through with a whole lot more power and drive than the first set. A function of gaining confidence in the new setup with weight on the bar instead of just doing setup and mobility drills with an unladen bar or a broomstick I think.

Finished off with a few sets of 20-rep dumbbell swings with a 50lbs dumbbell; I'd have used a kettlebell if I'd had one but the dumbbell probably works reasonably well to get a slight metabolic finisher to the workout. By rights I should have done power cleans from the floor, but I didn't feel up to that; it's a little late/early in the day to be doing an exercise that demands a high degree of coordination.

Overall, a pretty decent start I think; let's just see how I feel in the morning - that's when I'll know if all that rehab work has worked ;)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Useful fat loss workouts - More random thoughts.

For the macro picture, you want to do some strength training, some HIIT, some traditional cardio from time to time, and a bit of flexibility training. The fine details of exactly how each part of the complete program is structured varies according to sports-specific and individual needs.

Craig Ballantyne wrote this home bodyweight workout that I've been passing out as an example of what you can do for a workout without using weights, his stuff is pretty decent if you're in the target demographic. That is, you're not practicing for sports-specific performance in anything, you're looking for a reasonably minimal workout routine that'll get you a base level of fitness for life.

I've only chatted with him a couple times online, he strikes me as a decent guy and his workouts are legit. You don't actually need to buy his pre-made routines though, you already know what's in there: antagonist supersets of compound movements and some HIIT, plus count calories. And of the two counting calories count for more when it comes to weight loss, there's no way on God's green Earth to out-train your diet.

One reason for buying a pre-made routine from someone else is something Dan John spoke about a while back; there's less thinking involved. Which is where Turbulence Training comes in. But if you have sports-specific goals that go beyond generic fitness getting workout ideas from TT that you then have to go in and modify to work with what you actually training for strikes me as an unnecessary step where you'll just wind up paying extra for no reason. Since you probably won't be able to use Craig's stuff as is, I mean - if you could use it as is TT isn't bad, his workout designs are in the same space as Alwyn Cosgroves' from The New Rules of Lifting and The New Rules of Lifting for Women so they'd fit right in if you're looking for something in that space that isn't by Cosgrove.

But if you've got sports-specific goals you're going to have to do a lot of work to adapt anything you pick up to you own use anyway, so you might as well skip that step and go straight to getting some sports-specific material instead.

'course, there's other considerations as well - I'm consistently running into a lot of shoulder issues with people who've been sitting at a desk for a few years and used a mouse. Shoulders with limited mobility, improper stability, dysfunctional movement patterns, rotational deficits and other problems are seldom candidates for heavy loading. If you have mobility/stability issues, more than a current injury you need to train around, here's a shoulder rehab protocol from Jimmy Smith you should be using then if you can't get to a physical therapist to give you an individualized routine - start with no weights at all for a runthrough to see how your shoulder holds up.

That, plus the YTWL exercise is a good combo for shoulder rehab, you'd use surprisingly low weights on either to have a training effect. My preferred YTWL runthrough uses 8 reps of each letter before moving on to the next, and it's perfectly acceptable strength training for a beginner to just use your arms with no weights at all ;)

The reason I call TT good for base fitness but not necessarily good for sports-specific performance is that it lacks specificity. When it comes to sports-specific performance you're better off with an exercise program that's designed specifically around exercises with a high degree of athletic transfer from your workout to your sport than a generic fitness routine. If you don't have a specific sport you're practicing for, you have limited training time, and you're looking to get into good all-round condition with a combination of strength, aerobic and anaerobic fitness and flexibility TT or NROL/NROLW would work awesome.

If your goals have a bit more specificity to them it's often a better strategy to train each component separately; "Starting Strength" for any strength goals, a combination of steady state and interval training for endurance, and yoga for flexibility for example. The downside of a program like that is that while it'll get you better results than a combination workout will, it'll also take quite a bit more time.

You'd probably devote as much time to each individual component (20-60 minutes depending on activity, 1-3 times a week, 4-6 hours total) as you would to one of the combination workouts. If you've only got 2-3 hours a week to squeeze in a workout that's not a very useful approach just from a time management perspective, even if you'd see better results from a pure fitness standpoint.

Keep in mind that muscle/body size is entirely down to your diet - if you're training for strength with low-rep training and keeping calories in check you'd look more like little 97-lbs Suzanna who's about 50% stronger than me pound for pound than Jessica Biel. Or you'd look more like Gisele who's known for rockin' the Romanian deadlift at Peak Fitness. As long as calories are kept at maintenance or slightly lower there's no growth signal to your muscles, while the strength training preserves what you have and adds to bone density and neural tonicity of your muscles.

If you're doing a generic medium-high rep workout (10-15 reps) with a slight calorie surplus (350-500kcal/d) there is a growth signal to your muscles - and you might be able to 2-4 pounds of muscle in a month if you're male, about half that or 1-2lbs per month if you're female.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Some thoughts on what constitutes a useful workout.

Bad information about exercise physiology isn't restricted to the pink dumbbell set of Shape, bodybuilding comes with its own share of non-physiological idiocies, and I've wasted plenty of time on crap workouts myself. At the time, body part splits seemed logical, I saw the nice charts and graphs of recovery and protein synthesis. But I didn't stop to think about the concept of "population specificity" - was I actually part of the group of people this applied to, or was that just wishful thinking on my part?

Everything you've read is not wrong, but it's used out of context. In most trainees with less than 5-10 years of training background and without an ass full of steroid needle tracks, muscular protein synthesis returns to baseline within 48 hours after a single bout of resistance training.

Exceptions exist, but they are rare.

It's why the Starting Strength model is far superior to body part splits for beginners and intermediaries. After a few years of training when you're closer to your genetic limit for strength and muscle size and you're interested in hypertrophy training as opposed to function, then a split program makes sense in context, since you're close enough to your genetic limit to need more training volume for a particular muscle group than what you can get in with 3xwhole-body; going to a push/pull or upper/lower 2xweekly for a total of 4 weekly sessions then makes sense.

But if you look at something like DC training, Westside Barbell, Bill Starr's 5x5 and a whole host of other models for very advanced athletes you'll see they're also using 3xweekly sessions just like starting strength, it's just that they're using weekly, monthly and even yearly periodization schemes to inch a little closer to their genetic max.

The bodybuilders you see in Muscle&Fiction and other magazines sure as heck didn't start out with a split routine and got anywhere; beginners shouldn't be looking at what advanced athletes are doing now after 10-20 years of consistent training, they should be looking at what that athlete did to get to that point in their training career.

Of course split routines work too, for a given value of work. It's just that they take longer and deliver less results than a whole-body routine performed 3xweekly for the novice, beginner and intermediate trainee. In my book, slower, inferior results isn't exactly worth recommending.

Context-dependent though. If you have a) 10+ year of lifting experience, and b) hypertrophy-oriented goals, body-part splits are a useful training methodology and will deliver superior results in that specific training parameter - for that specific population. Everyone else just aren't strong enough yet to be able to train with a high enough load to make body part splits a useful training modality.

(Body part splits are in general outdated as a training methodology even within bodybuilding, and it's certainly gotten a well-deserved kick out the door by most strength coaches. Push/pull-oriented workouts or movement-oriented workouts focused on basic compound exercises with assistance exercises to strengthen weak muscles in a particular kinetic chain deliver more results in less time.)

Interesting fact: did you know that adding an isolation movement to a compound movement that works the same set of muscles do not improve muscle growth? Once you've maximally stimulated muscular protein synthesis in your triceps by performing a set of close-grip bench press at 85% of your 1RM, the addition of triceps extensions or pressdowns won't lead to more muscle growth. Once you've done your chinups and rows, your biceps will have had all the stimulation they need to grow and adding more in the form of bicep curls won't make a meaningful contribution to your training.

Well, for a beginner, that is. A more advanced athlete may need more training volume to stimulate muscle growth if that's a goal for your training and there's a limit to how much heavy loading your joints can take which is where isolation and assistance exercises come in. And split routines, because getting in sufficient volume takes time and there's a limit to how long a meaningful hypertrophy workout is.

But even if your goal actually is bigger muscles, up until you have that base level of strength you'll have better long term results from focusing on mastering the basics.

If you're just starting out the best advice I can give you is to pick up a copy of Mark Rippetoes' Starting Strength book.

I've been doing this for a while and I still pick up on new things when I go back and read through it and "practical programming for strength training".

In other news, I'm trying a Pavel concept for my current workout - I'm "greasing the groove" on chinups. Legs seem to be more functional again after the surgery but with the layoff period I think I'm going to stick to bodyweight exercises for a week or two until I'm convinced everything works.

The combination of chinups, pushups, dips, and single-leg stepups doesn't cover everything of course. But it does help get prepped for more; I have remarkably little interest in crippling myself with DOMS if I can avoid it. Assuming no funny business from the leg, I'll be back under the bar squatting in a week or two ;)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Training A. - and some thoughts on exercise philosophy

I have a favorite set of exercises for the beginner (Starting strength) and with coaching A. right now who has mobility restrictions out the wazoo in a shoulder I can use exactly one of them; the rest he'd risk permanent disability trying to do until we've addressed his shoulder issues. So no benching, no squatting, no military press, and no power cleans for him - if I was married to the method I'd have thrown up my arms and told him he was uncoachable.

Instead, I've laid out a set of substitute exercises, put him on some mobility drills, had him do some shoulder stability work, and prodded him to go see a physical therapist. Which he is doing today at long last - and in another month I hope to have his shoulder where he can attempt a pushup.

Keep in mind that all exercise methodologies and protocols (Pilates, yoga, weight lifting, Curves, boot camps, classical calisthenics) are only useful when you look at them as tools to reach a specific goal.

There are people who do need to use Pilates or the equivalent as introduction to body mastery; who have no business even looking crosswise at a weight until they're comfortable enough in their own skin to have a feel for how to move. Physical therapy and rehab patients can use a similar methodology and there are people who've seen a fair degree of success by using Pilates to transition from rehab and PT to a more normal function level.

The issue I have with all these methods is that people tend to pick out one method or training protocol and declare that this is all you need to achieve Real Ultimate Fitness!!!Zomg11!!11!!

This annoys me.

It's doing yourself a disservice when you can't separate your goals from the methods used to reach them - some methods work to reach some goals, some don't. When there's a mismatch between the goals you want and the methods you want to use to reach them, we have a problem.

Then it's time to re-evaluate the goals you have, or the methods used to reach them. No matter how much you like Pilates, it's not going to help you get in shape for that 10K run, and no matter how much you like Olympic lifting it's not going to be enough to get you faster in the swimming pool.

When you're doing this re-evaluation some people find that they like their method so much they're willing to give up pursuing their stated goal in other to stay with doing the same thing. Which is fine; as long as you know the trade-off you're making.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Back in the saddle - or on the floor as the case may be.

Well, had the stitches out, came home, and promptly fell asleep on the couch for 4 hours.

Yeah, this whole surgery thing is a drag; second time this year I have to take a workout break to heal from incisions. Well, I guess what Dan John says is true - "surgery is nature's way of telling you to slow down". Even if technically I did volunteer for both to correct a few points of pain rather than them being necessary for injuries.

Anyway, talked to the nurse who took out the stitches and I'm allowed to do upper body work, but I need to wait with the leg work until at least next week and preferably until my leg's fully healed.

Well, doing upper body is better than nothing, soo...

Some notes on today's workout:
Warmup: not much.
Tested clapping pushups, did a couple and then thought better of it.
Pushups 3x20
Renegade rows 3x10 ea. arm, @50lbs
Dumbbell floor press, 3x10 ea. arm @50lbs.

Easy does it, when starting back up. Well, last time I didn't take it so easy when jumping back into the squat and wound up walking like a geriatric for nearly a week, so I thought I'd try to be at least a little smarter and start with some light(er) weights. Leg still hurts even if the compression bandage held up; but yeah, I'd have been screaming in pain about now if I'd tried any funny business in my squat rack I think. Leg's throbbing badly enough as it is just sitting here after using it isometrically for the pushups and renegade rows.

Well. Still good to be back in training even if I'm going to have to limit myself as far as exercise selection goes until the holes in me heal completely.

Monday, May 4, 2009

So what does fitness mean anyway?

I've been a little sedentary lately - who knew having your leg cut open and the varicose veins pulled out would hurt quite that much?

In retrospect I suppose I should have expected something of the kind; but meh - still worth it in the long run I think and the stitches come out Wednesday ;)

I've been in a slightly retrospective mood today - I've been moderating the Fitness forum on for a few years and made some great friends - some who've moved on, but I still remember them fondly; got and given a lot of help in the process, lost 63lbs of fat and gained a fair few pounds of muscle, maintained my loss for a year. Oh, going back to school was a big thing too, and has been keeping me busy from time to time, but... yeah; I've discovered new passions in the course of this.

And I am still thinking that - yeah; I should do more to make people see that Fitness is not one thing. It's about answering the question: "What do you want to be fit for".

Choose to be fit for your life. It's not about how much you squat or bench press, it's not about how fast your run or how high you jump, it's not about how many goals you score or the medals you collect. It's about being alive and being comfortable in your skin and feeling capable of living joyfully in your body.

I think this gets lost sometimes.

It's not about looking fit; it's about being fit - for your life.

So tell me - what does fitness mean to you?

Yeah, I've been a little sedentary lately.

Who knew having your leg cut open and the varicose veins pulled out would hurt quite that much?

In retrospect I suppose I should have expected something of the kind; but meh - still worth it in the long run I think and the stitches come out Wednesday ;)

I've been in a slightly retrospective mood today - I've been moderating the Fitness forum on for a few years and made some great friends - some who've moved on, but I still remember them fondly; got and given a lot of help in the process, lost 63lbs of fat and gained a fair few pounds of muscle, maintained my loss for a year. Oh, going back to school was a big thing too, and has been keeping me busy from time to time, but... yeah; I've discovered new passions in the course of this.

And I am still thinking that - yeah; I should do more to make people see that Fitness is not one thing. It's about answering the question: "What do you want to be fit for".

Choose to be fit for your life. It's not about how much you squat or bench press, it's not about how fast your run or how high you jump, it's not about how many goals you score or the medals you collect. It's about being alive and being comfortable in your skin and feeling capable of living joyfully in your body.

I think this gets lost sometimes.

It's not about looking fit; it's about being fit - for your life.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Some nutrition ramblings.

No, I'm not a nutritionist and I don't play one on TV, but I AM an optimization geek and a very huge part of getting optimal results from your training is to eat to support your goals. So I pay attention.

While micromanaging intake (measuring everything) is only for obsessives like- well, me - I think having some nutritional awareness and a framework to use as basis for your diet is a good thing. Stops mindless eating and snacking out of boredom from happening (as much) - when you're using one particular nutrition lens or diet (Paleo, vegetarianism, veganism, 'eat clean', whatever) to sort out your diet you wind up removing the highly processed and calorie-dense foods from your diet most of the time.

Which is good as far as it goes, but sometimes the end result isn't quite what you had in mind for youself.

What if I invited you to start on a diet that ensured you either started suffering from chronic malnutrition and increased your risk and susceptibility to several diseases or practicaly had to live off highly processed industrial supplements to counter the damaging effect of your lifestyle?

Doesn't sound like a good idea, does it?

Okay then - how about I invite you to take up Veganism?

Sound healthy you say? Ah, but - veganism is that diet that either leves you chronically malnourished or dependent on supplements to stay alive.

Yeah, no thanks.

Vegetarianism - lacto-ovo, or pesectarianism are subsets ("I'm a vegetarian who eats eggs/dairy", or "i'm a vegetarian who eats fish" respectively) is a completely unnatural diet for humans, our genome evolved to get at least 50% if not more of our daily calories from animal sources.

Of course we also evolved to have kids at 14 and die of old age by 35, so the evolutionary argument only goes so far, but realise that when you're thinking of cutting out animal products from your diet, you're acting contrary to the nutritional profile that's optimal for your from an evolutionary perspective, so you're going to have to start obsessing about nutrition and diet to an amazing degree if you want to not just survive but thrive on a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Read What every Vegan should know about Vitamin B12.

If you don't supplement with it, you're screwed. A diet that requires that you live off supplements for the rest of your life does not qualify as natural in my book.

There's a number of vegetarian and even vegan athletes so it's doable to maintain the lifestyle and perform reasonbly well in a sport, but it does require a lot more dedication and planning than just going with the natural predisposition of your evolutionary blueprint.

Sod that.

How about Raw-foodism? Surely cooking your food is unnatural?

Bah. The earliest archeological trace evidence of humans using fire is about 500,000-600,000 years old, and the earliest evidence of actual cooking is approximately 125,000 years old.

Since even the most pessimistic estimate for how long we need to genetically adapt to something is 50,000 years and the most realistic that includes the effects of cultural forcing and smaller population groups give 1,150 and 3,000-5,000 years as estimates, humans have cooked food for 25-108 times longer than it would take our genome to adapt to cooked food.

From the PoV of your evolutionary blueprint, it's raw food that's unnatural; and our ability to live off it in extreme circumstances is more a testament to humanity's outstanding adaptability than anything else.

Actually, cooking is a large part of why humans were able to conquer the planet. Cooking our food killed parasites and infectious agents in it and allowed us to eat anything we came across without fear of fluke, flu, salmonella, e. coli or other nasties.

Uh, okay, but surely at least organic food must be healthier?

Nope. Organic growing is an offshoot of "vitalism", the magical thinking that there's some special life-energy in living things that goes beyond the various chemical constituents of it. Which leads to using 'organic fertilizer' - a code word for manure - on your plants.

Organic farming doesn't preclude the use of some of the most lethal pesticides known to man, and it's pesticide residue that's potentially harmful from any farming practice. In fact, several of the inorganic pesticides have shorter half-lives and are less lethal to humans than the organics.

Don't buy the hype. Slapping "organic" on the label doesn't make it healthier or safer. You're still trusting the farmer to have done a good job with his products - make sure you choose wisely.

Friday, April 24, 2009

This is why I won't be working out in a while.

Nice leg, huh? I had the surgery for the varicose veins on Wednesday (thanks for the crappy genes, mom,! :-P)

Hurts surprisingly little as long as I sit with my foot elevated and don't engage in anything that raises blood pressure systemically, but engaging in strenuous activities like walking limping to the bathroom, the kitchen or anywhere else hurts like anything. The surgical incision starts right below the knee and stops just above the ankle; and all of it hurts while walking.

I can potentially do a few things with my upper body - I'm using this forced downtime to work on general upper body mobility (shoulder, scapulae, thoracic spine) which will probably come in handy at some point when I'm allowed to go back to lifting things again ;)

Expressions of sympathy and offers of virtual chocolate welcome ;)

Friday, April 17, 2009

We have achieved Friday!

'course - having fallen out of the regular update habit I'm going to be compressing the last few days into one post.

Last workout is going to make my friend O. a little amused; it was just bodyweight-based with one-legged squats, Gironda dips, and those 1-arm elevated t-pushups. Circuit-fasion, AMRAP, minimal rest, 4 circuits. More of a calorie-burner and metabolic conditioning than anything; good cardio but not that much of a strength workout.

Going to be helping my brother move some stuff later today so my timing on doing this workout might have been better, but when you gotta, you gotta.

Some notes on today's workout:

Warmup:general calisthenics, mobility drill.

Back squat: 5x132lbs, 5x176lbs, 3x5@231lbs

Military press: 5x66lbs, 3x5@99lbs

Power clean: 5x3@110lbs.

A1 Chinups: 9,8, 4.5
A2: Mountain Climbers 3x20reps.

231lbs was interesting. I'm a little off in some elements of my technique I think, but I powered through with about the same level of strain as the last set of squats so I'm still able to maintain linear progress which is interesting seeing as I've now cut back down to 188lbs. I've still got a ways to go before hitting a 1.5xbodyweight squat, but with a little less bodyweight (aiming for 180 this time before I stop) and maintaining linear progression I'll hit it in a few months.

I want to say before summer, but what with the next bit of surgery on my varicose veins in my leg it's going to be a while before I get to train legs again. I assume stitches in my leg isn't going to be conducive to doing a lot of barbell squatting at least ;)

Milpress - well, nice jump obviously, but I think I started a little low on this current progression so it's going to take me a while before I surpass my old training weight. Not too long though, and hopefully something I'll be allowed to keep working a little even if my leg will be out of commission.

Power clean: Meh. I need to work more on technique on this I think; though performance is pretty explosive and the bar moves pretty straight there's something about my technique that's flawed. I might need to go back to hang cleans and work on that portion of the pull before doing the whole move from the floor 'cause I can feel I didn't quite engage the traps in that second pull like I should. Eh, well - on the other hand, strong off the floor and pretty much straight bar path all the way up isn't so bad and my catch has developed pretty well.

Chins - up until the third set when I started losing focus and pulling with my biceps instead of lats and back I was doing fine. 'course, when you start trying to pull your entire frickin' bodyweight up with just biceps it becomes near-impossible which is why I got only 4.5 reps on the last once; I think I'd have made at least 6-7 if I hadn't effed up my focus.

Eh, well, still - not unhappy overall. I just need to keep my mind on what I'm doing and train a little more technique. Oh, yeah, and get through having my leg cut open ;)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Yeah, so, about this regular updates thing....

Not being real conistent here yet, am I?

Getting back into it though. Let me just have a quick run-through on a few things: Disciplined? Hah - if I was, I'd have answered your comments like a good little Melkor when you made them and wrote down what I've been up to this easter as I did it ;)

Keeping a regular journal and hanging out with my friends in Journal-land is what keeps me on track, really. When I slack off on the journalling I tend to get a bit lax about everything else that goes along with it as well. admittedly not to the point of blowing off my workouts entirely or completely dropping this whole "diet" thing in favour of snorkeling in the corn chips (though they did look mighty tempting when I was shopping saturday, I came home with carrots and milk like it said on my grocery list.)

Still. There's something about commiting to and staying consistent about writing down that you're up to that's very helpful in terms of staying on track in relation to your goals. Frequently it's only been the thought of having to write down that "I skipped todays' workout" that's kept me from in fact skipping today's workout ;)

Currently I'm doing a sort of half-assed version of Starting Strength as the basis for my workout, though Rippetoe would probably snort a little at the thought of that. I could probably do HIIT, but it seems counterproductive to add even more high-intensity leg training to a program that has you squatting 3xweek; so I'm sticking to a sedate walk for my cardio.

How deep you squat during the performance of the exercise is a matter of how deep you can squat safely - I had to do a great deal of hamstring flexibility work before I could get low enough without my back rounding. So don't go overdoing depth either, only go as far as possible for you, work on flexibility in general and get down to proper depth when you're actually able to do so without injury risk.

Some notes on today's workout:

Warmup:general calisthenics, mobility drill.

A: Back squat: 5x132lbs, 5x176lbs, 3x5@220lbs

B: One-arm Dumbbell floor presses , 62.5lbs dumbbell, 3x10reps ea. side.

C1 Chinups: 9,8,6
C2: Dumbbell swings, 43lbs DB, 20,30,30

D: Mountain Climber 2x20.

No problem hitting the target for the back squat - had some moments feeling reluctant after the second set but when I got under the bar and lifted it was tough but doable. So much so that I think I can carry this progression rate further for at least one or two more workouts before I need to slow down how much I add to the bar each workout ;)

DB floor presses - added weight and reps so I should be happy, but I have inconsistent technique which makes it hard to judge progress. I switch between tucked-in and flared elbows and I should just pick one and stick to it in order to be able to have a meaningful measurement here; there's no point to use a mechanical advantage to add more weight without it resulting in an adde training effect on the muscles in that kinetic chain.

Apart from the chinups the rest is more or less a bit of fun, really - conditioning and core stability isn't a real big part of my plan right now since I'm on a deadline what with my upcoming spot of surgery, but I'll put in a bit at the end like here if there's time.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Oooh, naughty me, no updatey. sorry.

Oh yeah. as predicted, I was in pain. Walking like a geriatric until about Monday/Tuesday, in fact ;)

Stopping by Mom's on Sunday for dinner may actually have helped with recovery - it hurt like hell to walk and I'm pretty sure I looked kinda funny from a distance the way I swung my legs from the hip and kept my knees straight when walking ;) But the movement, painful as it was, did force blood into the muscles which speeded up recovery. Helped along by the nutrient intake from a family dinner of course.

Still, I had a lazy and legs that were slightly painful so I waited until very early this morning to do a new squat workout - I did do an upper body push workout on Saturday that I should have blogged as well.

Some notes on Saturdays' workout:

Upper body focus; general calisthenics-based warmup w/some mobility drills.

A1:Chinups &n bsp; &n bsp; &n bsp; reps: 7,7,6.5
A2:One-arm Dumbbell floor presses , 60.5lbs dumbbell, 3x8reps ea. side.

B1: Military press 5x88lbs, 2x5@92lbs.
B2:one-arm Dumbbell Row 60.5lbs db, 3x10 ea. side.

Not a bad set of exercises, and done in about 25-30 minutes. I'd have done more except the leg pain convinced me I'd better start slow ;)

Some notes on today's workout:

Warmup:general calisthenics, mobility drill.

A: Back squat: 5x132lbs, 5x176lbs, 3x5@210lbs

B: Renegade row: 60.5db, 3x10 reps ea. arm.

C: one-armed, one-legged, stiff-legged dumbbell deadlifts from a deficit. 5x60.5lbs ea side, 2x5@71.5 ea. side.

D: Chinups: 8,6

Squats were up 11lbs from last time but I don't expect to be walking like a crippled geriatric for the better part of a week this time ;) I've changed foot position to a slightly narrower one and removed a few of the external depth quest I used to rely on, so I'm going practically ass-to-grass on these. And man am I ever feeling the change, particularly in the Vastus Medialis - I'm pretty certain that my old, wider-stance squat was a lot more hamstring dominant and based on how much pain I was in, didn't properly target the medialis.

Well, the flexibility work I've been doing to work on getting lower in the squat has obviously paid off since I'm now hurting in new and interesting ways ;)

On the lighter side of things I'm now down to 190.5lbs, from my starting weight of 201.3lbs - on 03.25. Obviously a lot of the initial drop has been water weight, but it's still encouraging ;)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Proper training for the first time in months.

Man, I'll be hurtin' in the morning ;)

Probably, at any rate. Hanging out at the good gym with O. for the first time in 1.5 months; and it's interesting to note that I haven't lost much in the way of base strength; though peak strength is probably down a bit.

O.s quite a bit stronger than me these days, btw. Must fix. After the upcoming new round of surgery at least; I doubt I'll be able to do much in the way of gaining peak strength until after the leg's healed from the upcoming operation.

Some notes on today's workout:

First proper workout in a while so I didn't want to go too heavy.

Warmup: dynamic mobility drills, bodyweight calisthenics.
(Watching O. juggle kettlebells for his warmup was impressive, btw.)

Exercise 1: Back squat: 5@132lbs, 5@176lbs, 3x5@198lbs. Not bad for a layover, even if my form sucked on some of them. Kicked off my shoes for the last set and things went a lot more smoothly.

Exercise 2: front squat, 2x5@132lbs. Quads were a bit understimulated, so I added these two sets of light front squats at the end - and man, I'll be feeling that in the morning ;)

Exercise 3: deadlift. 2@308lbs; 8@308lbs. Pulled two singles at 308 with overhand grip, rested a bit, and then pulled 8 singles with mixed grip, alternating grip between reps.

And that concluded the strength part of the workout; after that I headed over to the cable station for a bit of fun, circuit-style.
1: Face pull, 44lbs on the stack, 10 reps.
2: Farmer's walk, 2x70lbs kettlebells, back and forth across the gym, about 15 yards each way.
3: Pallof press, 44lbs on the stack, 10 reps ea. hand.

Rest 30 seconds between exercises, 4 circuits.

And then hit the home stretch by - well, stretching ;)

O. did an interesting workout of his own, but he can damn well blog it himself ;)

Monday, March 30, 2009

GPP training in progress.

Before I start anything really intense in the way of training I still need to do the GPP part where I 'work in' the muscles so I'm sure that my flexibility is intact, my joints, tendons and ligaments are up to the stress, and muscles are ready for heavy loading.

Oh yeah, and so I don't accidentally cripple myself by training everything in new ways so I get DOMS all over, dammit. That hurts ;)

Btw: sorry about not getting back to you on the mobility issue: I'm borrowing some of the exercises from 8 Weeks to Monster Shoulders and Essential 8 Mobility Drills adapted to address the specific issues with A.s shoulders. I've given him some homework to do, but so far he's only been half-assing them which is why I'm nagging him to call the PT he's got a referral for ;)

Some notes on yesterday's workout:

It was an early Sunday morn and sunny for once, so I went for a bit of a walk. 15 minutes out the front door at the fastest clip I could manage, and turn around to head home at same speed. Not much of a workout in terms of physical strain but the movement helped dispose of the last bits of DOM lingering from the previous workout.

Some notes on today's workout:

Warmup: General calisthenics/agility/dynamic mobility drills somewhat inspired by what Nick Tumnello's been doing in his seminars.

Exercises performed:

1: Power clean to front squat to push press; 5x3@110lb, 1min rest between sets.

2: Strict form chinups/ Dumbbell floor press@50lbs; 5 reps/5reps ea. hand, 3 sets, 45/90 sec rest.

3: Renegade rows@50lbs/dynamic bodyweight lunge; 10 reps ea. arm/ 10 reps ea.leg. 0/90sec rest.

Mostly just finding my correct training weight - I need to go up by about 10-15lbs on the floor presses, add more reps to the chins, the renegade rows were about correct weight so next time I'll just add 2-4lbs, and the lunges are strictly for mobility/flexibility work. Legs get hit enough on squat days that I don't need to add more pain to the mix, but it's good to work in some mobility/stability/flexibility work as well wherever appropriate.

Right now I think this is a "good enough" workout; I'm going to try doing some more of this GPP with higher intensities in the coming week leading up to trying one of Cosgrove's programs later on.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Oh man, been a while...

Well, I was feeling a bit uninspired, and then the bleeping surgery sidelined me for weeks, dammit, and various things sidetracked me.

Anyway. I'm still coaching A. - his shoulder mobility has improved somewhat though I'm still nagging him to pick up the phone and make that appointment with a physiotherapist. We'll see how he does today; the mobility restrictions in his shoulders means he can't squat due to not being able to hold the bar. Not being able to squat is teh suck for my favourite beginner's program so I've been making him do stepups instead. He thinks I'm mean and says he's got trouble walking for days afterwards, which I think is a good sign ;)

'Course, I've but on a couple pounds due to the downtime that I could do with not having on me so I suppose I'm going to have to start counting for real again if I want to get the sixpack instead of this 4-pack I have right now. The interesting thing is that while I've gained about 10-11lbs since my low last summer, I haven't lost much of anythign in the way of definition. Which I think is pretty encouraging, all things considered.

Some notes on today's workout:

I'm engaged in what I have to call general physical preparedness right now; I'm not pushing myself nearly as hard as I am capable of. I'll be sticking to a conditioning program like this for at least this week, and then I think I'm going to commit to doing one of Alwyn's workouts again.

Warmup: Tabata jump rope intervals - these are probably not true Tabatas, that would require a bit more loading to hit 170% of VOMax but 4 minutes of 20sec all-out/10sec rest still kicks my ass. especially since it's been forever since I've done them.

Exercises performed:

superset 1: Chinups/stepups - 5 chins, then 5 stepups ea. leg. No weights, no rest between sets.

Superset 2: 1-arm elevated t-pushup*/1-legged elevated stiff-legged deadlift - 5 reps ea. limb, 60lbs DB on the deads.

superset 3: Gironda dips/1-arm row 5@60lbs ea. arm.

4: curl-to-overhead press, 38.5lbs, 3x5 reps ea. arm.

Each superset performed 3 times.

*elevated pushups look like this - I added difficulty by continuing into a T-pushup on reaching the top of the elevated pushup. Fun ;) One-legged deads performed on top of same elevated blocks, so ROM is increased. Also fun.

Well, when I count reps I must say that the last chinup series I didn't get 5 reps, I got 3, then had a 30 second pause and did 1.5. So 3x5 with the recovery period being the time it takes me to do 5 stepups per leg is more in the way of a goal than actuality.

Yeah, exercse 4 is pointless when I've already done chins, but it was still fun to include ;)