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 ;)