Workouts for the Week of February 1st, 2009

The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”

~ Patrick Henry

Super Bowl Sunday afternoon: The perfect time to hit some pregame fixie intervals, barefooted sprints and ballistic decline push-ups.  Add to that some fairly warm weather, and the sweet sounds of baseballs heard pinging off of aluminum bats and twacking into gloves from the confines of Clark-LeClair stadium, and one would get the feeling that spring cannot be too far away!

I began and ended this session with some fixie interval sprints around G-Vegas and the ECU campus. While at the ECU soccer complex, I hit some barefooted sprints, and ballistic, decline push-ups.  The arrangement looked like this:

1. 5-second, all-out sprint (approx. 44 yards)

2. Decline Ballistic Push-ups x 10

3. 5-second all-out sprint (approx 44 yards)

I completed 6 rounds of that complex until I hit my pre-established drop-off in the sprints (on sprint 11 and 12). So, why a 5-second sprint? Good question.  And the not-so scientific answer is that it just so happens to work out nicely with the pre-measured and marked, 44-yard width the regulation soccer field penalty box.  It also falls well within the <10 second ATP-PC energy system I wanted to work.  I fall about one stride shy of hitting the 44-yard mark when fresh, so it really gives me a good goal to shoot for. This workout fell in the middle another inadvertent IF day; also notice that this was the second of two day’s worth of back-to-back sprint workouts as well. I don’t usually perform back-to-back, high intensity work, but I just couldn’t let the day slip by unappreciated, sprints and fixie riding being my sacrifice to the Gods of fantastically good weather 🙂

Tuesday morning at the Y, and my “normal”, workday morning routine; up at 4;30 AM, coffeed-up and at the gym by 6:15, throwing serious iron by 6:30.  Here’s what ensued:

  1. Whip-Snatch + Overhead Squat, (1 WS + 4 OHS) x 2
  2. Regular Grip, “Power” Pull-ups x 7

4 full rounds of that, followed by:

Snatch Grip High Pulls, 2 sets of 3 reps.

So, what exactly is a “Whip Snatch”?   Well, I think you’ll be rather disappointed in any explanation I can conjure in regard this movement.  Think of it as a high, high, friggin’ high, Power Snatch.  Think, “hip it and whip it”.  With a wide snatch grip, stand all the way up with the bar.  Then, dip down (or, more precisely, push the butt out and back), so the bar just hits the crotch — or, more to the point, in the nook between your hip and upper thigh formed via pushing your butt out and back — explode into the jump and snap it out.  Now, pair this with 4 overhead squats.  Reset (just long enough to re-establish proper grip) and repeat.   By the way, the girl in the OHS demo, Nicole Carrol, is a flat-out fire-breathing, bad-ass.  All of her exercise demos are spot-on.  Now, there’s no magic to the 1-4 rep combo, in my execution here.  Quite simply, I can hit about 4 OHS reps in good form with my near-max whip snatch weight.  Two back-to-back bursts of that is quite a load.  One thing, technique wise, about the WS and OHS is this: you’ve really got to concentrate on pushing the butt out and back.  Be proud of what your mama gave ya!  Seriously, though, it is essential to the proper execution of the exercise, forcing both engagement of the hams and glutes, and ensuring balance and a full range of motion.

Now, you’re probably wondering just what the hell a “power pull-up” is.  Check out this video from Tyler Southwick, clips of him performing some various forms of “power pull-ups”.  Now Tyler makes these look effortless; I can assure you, however, they are not.  And although the grip is not as wide, you can think of the power pull-up as a pretty close approximation of a reverse whip snatch.

Let’s move on, then, to Thursday morning, again at the YMCA.  Here’s what was on tap:

  1. Clean Grip Low Pulls (from the floor) x 3’s
  2. Russian Lunge Scissor Jumps x 3’s, each leg
  3. Weighted, “Kipping” Dips x 6’s

I wanted 4 rounds of this, but ran short on time and only managed 3.  About 25 minutes worth of work, once I reached my working weights.  I talked a little about kipping dips, here.  The Russian Lunge Scissor jump is demonstrated here, at the :34 second mark.  I use a heavy dumbbell, and attempt to achieve maximum height on each jump — which is to say, I use a weight heavy enough so that my max effort only allows me enough height to just complete a good scissor.  Also, I stick the landing in an extreme low position.

I had a nice day of sprints planned for Saturday, but had to battle plumbing problems at home instead.  Ah, the joys of home ownership.  I tried to console myself with self-talk of “randomness” in workout scheduling being a good thing, but it didn’t do much to alleviate the pain of screwing around with household plumbing issues with the beautiful weather on hand.  Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.  On the bright side, the plumbing issues have been resolved once and for all <crosses fingers>, and I’m not too much worse for the wear.

As an aside, I fasted from Friday night to Saturday night; too busy being “Joe the plumber” to think about food.

In Health,


16 responses to “Workouts for the Week of February 1st, 2009

  1. Hey
    See you sprint bike and running. Is it possible to get the same results of running sprints on the bike? Hgh, fast-twitch, etc. Thanks

  2. hey keith,
    I wanda…
    can one get the same sprint benefits (hgh, fast twitch, etc) just by sprinting on the bike? Or is there something “paleo” about the bipedal movement that does more for our system?

    btw. watched pumping iron last nite for the first time and was really amazed. governator getting high! awesome. Really opened my eyes to the world of intensity. I thought if you shot steroids you bulked up. These guys worked incredibly hard and earned their recognition. It was amazing to see the joy these guys brought people just by taking their shirts off and flexing.

    • In his book “Outliers” Malcome Gladwell speaks of people being in the right place, with the right tools, at the right time. I think that definitely applied to Arnold. But then again, it applied to me as well. I was about 12 or so when Pumping Iron came out, and I was captivated by the whole scene. Add to this that I had ready and available access to (arguably, I’m sure) one of the most preeminent gyms in south Texas. I was surrounded by not only bodybuilders, but athletes of all types, and all manner of training styles. I learned early on that there was a difference in training for “look” and training for performance. Note that this was in the mid 70’s, and this recognition is just now catching on. Also, about that same time, I was able to meet Arnold at a sporting goods store grand opening in San Antonio, Texas. Check out this post, and the comments, if you haven’t seen it already.

      As far as bike sprinting and “run” sprinting, I’d say that yes, both protocols produce similar HGH and fast twitch muscle responses within the body. Sprint skating as well. Check out the bodies of athletes from all of these disciplines; they are fast twitch dominant to the core.

      • Wes,
        In addition to my previous reply, I’d add that, as long as the various sprint modes we’re talking about fall within similar energy system time domains. In other words, when comparing various sprint protocols of <10 seconds, between 10 and 30 seconds, 30 seconds to 2 minutes (roughly speaking, of course).

  3. Gotcha Keith. keep it sprints not longer intervals.
    I ride that fine line of wanting an explosive body but enjoy endurance activities. My amateur bike dreams were kabashed when I discovered how much training goes into age group athletics. I do enjoy cyclocross though which is a race that lasts 30-60 minutes on a fat tire roadbike that consists of grass, mud, running and jumping with the bike over obstacles. Tough stuff indeed. Still,to be good it takes a lot of time (if one was to follow conventional training- periodization). I’m really going to try to hit some good races next year after an off season of sprints and leisurly rides. My past training consists of a lot of mid range death rides. I really dig the weight room activities too. thanks for the blog, the info and the fun

    • Wes,
      Yeah, I really like the cyclocross concept — it looks like a really cool sport. A real gut-check, and I like that in a sport 🙂 I used to think the spring classics in Europe were tough until I saw the what the guys on the cyclocross circuit endure. Pain, pain, pain — with a little suffering added in for kicks. And actually, I think sprint repeats is a perfect training methodology for cyclocross, with maybe one long endurance ride thrown in about every 10 days or so. I know old training dogma dies hard, but I really do think that sprint repeats are a more effective way to train for endurance. Sounds counter intuitive, I know, and yet…

      As far as gym work, my advice would be to concentrate on the power modality — lower body power is a given, but don’t neglect the upper body power as well (especially the pulls). Check out the link in this post with the power pull-ups. Good stuff. Greg Glassman (CrossFit founder) is fond of relaying the story of how they increased the pull-up capacity of the US Women’s ski team (all else remained roughly consistent — they just happened to be particularly weak at the onset in the pull-ups), with the net result being that they all became faster in their given events. Why is that? I’ve seen the same phenomenon myself in various athletes; truth is, we really don’t know why — all we do know is that we need to “hug the beast” and train our weakness. It makes us better athletes than trying to better what we’re already good at.

  4. I watched that pullup video and that guy is sick. And that’s not even a term I use! I was watching that and wondering how do you train for that? Just by doing it? Is it a grease the groove sort of thing. I have a pullup bar and still struggle past 10 of them. I try weighted but I don’t seem to rock them. I don’t kip but those muscle ups are something I aspire to. Same with walking on my hands.
    For sure I don’t want the typical tyrannosaurus rex biker body. My rib cage wouldn’t allow it. Although Lance is looking tough. I know you follow cycling. Here’s an evil way to have some fun: free fantasy cycling. Started with tour of australia next is california and through spring classics and major tours. Bit of fun for geeks.
    I like the sprint/ distance modality. Living in chicago is better for sprints anyway. rock them out on the tiny sledding hill we have on the lakefront. Hit some distance when I can get away or out on the mountain bike trail and do some low level commute. Plus I’ve been doing Gym work every 3 days usually strength/power fun endurance crossfit/ strength
    thanks again man.
    we’ve been talking about moving to asheville for the last 3 years. we’ve never even been there but maybe this year…

    • Wes,

      Start with kipping Pull-ups and work your way up, along with training the strength aspect via weighted pull-ups. Power pull-ups are a great, real-world example of how power is a combination of speed, strength, balance, timing and technique. I can tell you from personal experience that you will get some strange looks in the gym doing them 🙂

      I used to commute to work on my fixie before I changed jobs. Now I live too far away to do so, and that kinda bums me out. There was a few of us who commuted at that job, and it was kinda cool.

      I absolutely love Asheville — the town itself is fantastic, with a really good vibe and it’s paradise for mountain biking (actually any type biking).

      Cool site, btw — I think I’ll put together “Team Paleo” 🙂

  5. Keith,

    I wonder if you’d consider doing a post on training with, or around, injuries. About 2 months ago I hurt my knee doing a crossfit WOD involving high rep squat cleans. It was my own fault in that I felt my form deteriorating and didn’t stop. Since then I’ve been a little less than supremely disciplined with keeping off of it, though recently I’ve resolved to do very little lower body work for about a month (as much as it kills me).

    What advice do you have for training around such an injury, and for speeding recovery? The classic suggestion is work on your weaknesses in other areas. I also think I may have tweaked my anterior deltoid this morning . . . it seems that working out first thing in the morning requires more warming up than working out later in the day.

    On an up note, I’ve dropped from 203ish to a steady 189 in the last 4-5 weeks by eating a Paleo diet with some rare cheats, and occasional IF, which really is what it’s cracked up to be, and just comes naturally when you kick the insulin addiction.

    Thanks Keith,


    • Bryce,
      Sounds like you’re pretty dinged-up, big guy. I know all too-well, the training around injury scenario. Training during a football season is, by definition, just that. We all tend to try to short our warm-ups so as to get to the meat of our work-outs, and sometimes that bites us. Most of my bodily tweaks happen just for this reason. You’d think I’d learn after 30+ years of being in the game, huh 🙂
      For recovery, as far as exercise wise, what I’d do is take the affected joint through full range of motion, strength work (emphasis on range of motion, as opposed to weight amount). Take it slow and easy, and get your full ROM back. Then, when you feel that you’re ready, start feathering in some ballistic stretching at full ROM. Inch up both your weight and the magnitude of ballistic stretching as you can tolerate it.
      Nutritionally (in addition to the Paleo basics), make sure you’re taking in about 10 grams of fish oil per day, as well as 6,000 IUs of vitamin D.
      Contrast baths (cold water immersion) works wonders as well. Hot/cold showers are a decent stand-in if you don’t have access to a tub/ice bath.

      Nice to hear about your Paleo success so far. Keep up the good work!

  6. Keith,
    Thanks for the tips. I’ll certainly certainly up the fish oil, and I think I have a multivitamin on board w/ vitamin D in it. As for the shoulder, it seems pretty minor and might not affect training, but for the knee, would you recommend simply careful squatting? I am trying to determine how best to stretch it ballistically (maybe squatting quickly?). I notice a bit of discomfort when I stand or walk for more than 10 minutes, and it feels uneasy when It’s supporting a load (like catching a clean at the shoulder or a jerk overhead). I think squatting and icing/heat padding it may have to do.

    Appreciate the feedback as always.


    • Bryce,
      You might want to try to work up to some single leg stuff; pistols, single leg RDLs, things like that. Go all-out on your “good” leg, and adjust as need be for your rehab leg. Try some single arm stuff for the chest/shoulder region as well, same concept. Don’t push things far or too fast (easier said than done, I know). When you can, try to ease into some short sprint bursts. Again, don’t push too hard; there’s a time to go balls-out and a time to be smart — this is a time to be smart 🙂

  7. Thanks keith. Will do. A naked pistol is something I still have yet to achieve (due to some flexibilitiy issues mostly), but I’ll work on it.


    • Bryce,
      Now is a perfect time to “hug the beast” and work your weakness. Seriously, my “regression” exercises during my injury periods turned out to really help me in the long run, when I got back to normal.

  8. Keith,

    I am definitely working on weaknesses while I rest and rehab my knee (the shoulder turned out to be fine which is awesome). Circumstances stopped me from working out for about a week, but now I’m back to working on explosive/power dominant (weighted and bodyweight) pullups/dips/pushups, muscle ups on the rings, and I’m working on one armed pullup/pushup stuff. My interval training had become a little too infrequent so I’m doing more KB snatch intervals now since I can’t do any heavy lower body power work, and these at least involve my hips without straining my knee. (KB snatches are like my fixie, the ‘go-to’ for intervals when options are limited). As for the knee, bodeyweight squatting causes slight discomfort at the bottom, but light deadlifting is fine. I’m icing and then heat-padding after any training.

    Hopefully I’ll be able to make progress over the next month before I get back into some heavy lower body power work, including sprints (this injury came on just when i was getting into them, ugh!!!). Thanks as always.


    • Sounds like a plan, Bryce; stay hungry. Working around and overcoming injuries and setbacks of all manner is part and parcel of the game.

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