“The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.” – Bertrand Russell
OK, so it’s been a while since I documented a run of workouts, so what better time to take a snapshot of things than Thanksgiving week? Actually, this turned out to be a fairly typical workout week for me, with lots of varied modalities and overall session intensity variability tossed into the mix.
A snapshot of last week’s workouts –
(A1) Powermax360 work: 30 seconds on, 15 off; 2 rounds
(A2) Eccentric Edge, leverage flat bench: 7 reps, max power output, no grind outs
4 total rounds.
(first workout) – whip snatch + 3 overhead squats: 10 total sets, working up from 135 to 150 lbs
(second workout, 2 hours later) – thrusters x 3 reps: 5 total sets, working up from 135 to 185 lbs
Lotsa fixie hucking 🙂
Thursday – Autoregulated lifts, with a decided power emphasis (i.e, reps were kept quick, with no grind-outs); 5 total rounds.
(A1) trap bar DLs: workup to 445 x2
(A2) Dips: workup to 95 x 5
(A3) free bar chins: workup to 95 x 3
Assessment: good day for dips, and so-so for chins. As for DLs? Meh… In defense of a sub-par DL showing though, this was a friggin’ tough-ass combo.
Sprint starts (30 yards) and limited monkey & parallel bar work (really feelin’ Thursday’s DLs — not much spring in the legs)
Sprints (100 yards, 8 x <15 seconds, 45 seconds recoverery) and heavy sandbag work — clean & press, snatch, totes, etc. (yikes! *Still* feeling those DLs!).
A rare day completely off — unless you count my wrestle with IKEA furniture assembly 🙂
And now for your viewing pleasure…
How about an up-close-and-personal preview of the venue that will serve as the anchor to this spring’s highly anticipated PFX12 symposium? Having been lucky enough to have been invited (as a personal guest of Ken “Transevolutionary Fitness” O’Neill) to the reception celebrating the official opening of the Stark Center’s Joe and Betty Weider Museum of Physical Culture, I can tell you that this place is just amazing to a dyed-in-the-wool Physical Culturalist like myself.
Anyway, you can get a feel for the scope and breadth of the facility via the short documentary and blog post, here. Oh, and as an added bonus, yours truly makes a cameo appearance at about mark 2:00. So does this mean that, since I’ve now rubbed elbows at such an event with the likes of Arnold, Boyer Coe, Larry Scott, Bill Pearl, Ronnie Coleman and Mark Henry, that my acting career will now skyrocket? 🙂 Heh; I wouldn’t hold your breath if I were you…
In other news, it looks like my man Anthony Johnson has this summer’s 21 Convention talks by Skyler and myself up and available now. The theme of Skyler’s presentation (link here, via Anthony’s blog) centers on training expectations over a lifetime; in other words, taking a long-range of your training efforts, and purposefully directing those efforts so as to positively affect the entirety of your life. As always, good stuff from my Efficient Exercise training brother-in-arms.
In my own presentation, I explore (among other various topics) the highly n=1 nature of health vs performance, and the often-times contradictory nature of chasing performance as a means of bolstering health. I’ll warn you ahead of time: if you’re looking for sound-bite answers, quick-fixes, or a one-size-fits-all template, I’m not your guy, and this won’t be your jam. The truth is, all I can define are general processes that are applicable to iron game pursuits. Cooking from a book will never make one a chef any more than will painting by numbers make one an artist. In the same way, training from a template will never make one a true Physical Culturalist. One must learn hints from others, then forge their own n=1 path.
The Vampire chronicles…
In an upcoming series of posts, I’ll be documenting my recent bloodwork draw, and what those lab numbers reveal. Nutritionist Holly L’Italien, from Austin’s Merritt Wellness Center will be doing some TTP guest posting as she hacks away at this kid’s bloodwork. I can tell you this: intelligent bloodwork analysis is a friggin Rubik’s Cube puzzle. Many, many mitigating and conflicting factors to consider. This should be interesting as hell, especially as my numbers are anything but straightforward. Stay tuned.
I know, I know; the idea of nutrient timing is not exactly Paleo in the most strict sense of the term, and certainly not part of the DeVany-esq, Evolutionary Fitness schema. If you’re a performance-driven athlete, however (or just an average Joe/Jane who habituates a frequent red-lining in the ol’ workout arena), adequate and well-timed pre and post-workout nutrition is crucial. Did Grok worry about all of this? Of course not — or at least we can argue that it was usually not the case that he attempted to manipulate his performance via nutrition thusly. However, Grok didn’t spend his nights peacefully slumbering on a comfy mattress either, or perform grueling rounds of power snatch/ring muscle-up supersets, avail himself to bloodwork analysis, hormone therapy, or the awesomeness of Joe Rogan podcasts…you get the idea. It’s the difference between merely surviving, and optimally thriving, my friends; sufficient as opposed to optimal. Anthropological evidence provides but one tool (albeit a very important tool) within the total “thriving” workshop. It’s up to each individual then to flesh-out the remainder of his/her own workshop’s tool cache, and acquire that craftsman’s collection of n=1-derived methods, techniques and specialty tools to be used in creating a personalized expression of phenotypical excellence.
Drs John Ivy and Robert Portman have put together what I consider to be the classic treatise on optimal nutritional timing in their aptly-titled book, Nutrient Timing. Hat tip to Ken O’Neill, of Trans-Evolutionary Fitness, for tuning me in to John Ivy’s work. Now my personal pre and post-workout formulations may vary somewhat from the recommendations put forth by Drs Ivy and Portman — mostly due to my belief (outdated?) that the synergy of whole foods trump the conglomeration of individual, deconstructed constituents — but I do follow the spirit of the nutrient timing argument put forth by the good doctors…
…that is, most times 🙂
…and I am more than willing to consider that my gut notion of whole foods’ superiority to “scientifically” reconstituted constituent components is flawed. It has been my experience, though, that Mother Nature’s intelligence in these matters always prevails. Of course this simply may be a matter of degree, in which case one must ask if the miniscule gain of constituent recombination is worth the additional hassle and stress. You can see how this argument can quickly pigtail into the dreaded paralysis-by-analysis vortex.
At any rate, the down-and-dirty on nutrient timing is this: your muscles are uber-primed for nutrient uptake immediately following a bout of strenuous exercise. The window of opportunity for capitalizing on this phenomena is only open, though, for approximately 2 hours (and more precisely, 45-minutes) post-throwdown. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty details of why hitting this window is so important from a performance point-of-view (in a nutshell, it has everything to do with optimum recovery), as the book does an excellent job of spelling this out quite precisely. Also, checkout this, The International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand on nutrient timing. Long story short, though, what I can tell you is this: throughout my training career I have experimented with various post-workout timing schemes — sometimes of my own doing, and sometimes as a result of circumstances beyond my control. But in all cases, it has been my experience that hitting the 45-minute post workout window with smartly pinpointed nutrition has resulted in superior recovery results. And, in my experience, these results have been far superior to the recovery benefits of, for example, post-workout contrast showers/ice baths and the like. Results, mind you, attained from a practice that is much more practical from a sustainable application standpoint; you might not have the time-luxury, or access to, a post-workout ice soak, sports massage, or what-have-you, but most have the time to put together and down a smartly concocted, post-workout drink.
This needn’t be overly complicated to be effective, either (lowfat chocolate milk anyone?). And hey, don’t have all the ingredients on-hand every time out? Don’t sweat it bro, neither do I most times. I’m notoriously bad about not restocking items until I’m completely out. Anyway, here’s my simple, post-workout mix:
And hey, if you haven’t already, please checkout my interview with Angelo — who, by the way, is a true professional in every sense of the word. Some of what we talked about:
Diet & fitness
getting started with a fitness routine
Efficient Exercise and CrossFit; compare and contrast
MovNat vs. HIIT
One of the many techniques that I employ with my clients, and utilize in my own training, involves the use of pre-exhaust methods prior to moving into heavy, compound movements. Methods of pre-exaust abound of course, but essentially (and for my purposes) fall into two broad categories — use of isolation exercises to target individual muscle(s) and/or the use of zone training techniques (Jreps, partials, ect.) which allow for significant inroading via the use of lighter weights (read, “easy on the joints”). Here, for example, is one of my lower-body workouts from last week:
(A1) hip press, utilizing a zone training/Jrep scheme
(A2) Russian leg curls; again, utilizing a zone training/Jrep scheme
(B1) front squats , working up in load from what I could handle in the 7 rep range, on down to a 3-rep grind.
I split the hip presses and leg curls into 2 zones each (high and low), and blitzed each zone to failure using Jrep techniques (essentially employing piston-like, “pumping” repetitions with an eye toward achieving maximum pump and burn in the target musculature). After 2 rounds of that, my legs were essentially toast. Then, with those already blistered wheels, I dove into the first of what ended-up being a 5-set battle with front squats. The beauty of this is that my hips, knees, ankles — along with all the soft tissue support in those areas — were already more than warm, blood-nourished, and ready to go — AND the weight necessary to elicit a full-on, ball-busting effort was, as you might well imagine, reduced. But, surprisingly though, not by all that much (about 30 lbs off of what I would normally handle in the 3-rep range?). The result was a total friggin’ lower body throwdown fest without, however, the joint ache (and following day stiffness) usually associated with a heavy compound movement session. Note that this is much, much more than just effectively “warming-up” prior to delving into the heavy stuff — this is achieving significant (and isolated) muscular inroad prior to even beginning the compound (whole-body, synergistic) movement. Combining this method of pre-exhaust prior to jumping into an ARX movement is also something I like to employ, and for the same reasons stated above.
My Efficient Exercise brother-in-arms has written a masterful piece, here, related to the relationship between training and sport specificity, and the sometimes (oftentimes?) inadvertent, inappropriate, confusing/commingling of these two, distinct endeavors. And this is more than just mere semantics, or word-play slight -of-hand. For example, CrossFit is the sport of strength and conditioning, just as Olympic weightlifting is the sport side of all those cool Oly-derrivative (i.e., “power”, etc.) moves. Know your goals, and train (and specify, if need be) as required. A timely post, especially with this year’s CrossFit games (which I loved, BTW) fresh in everyone’s mind.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
True for many aspects in life, but no more so than in the pursuit of a long and successful life in the game of Physical Culture 2.0.
And what exactly *is* Physical Culture 2.0? Well, in essence, it’s the fully integrated pursuit of a healthy and vibrant existence, including (but certainly not limited to) looking to our evolutionary past to construct a scaffolding upon which to layer ever more effective and efficacious “technologies” (both modern and stone-age) so as to produce an exquisite phenotypical expression of one’s self onto the world.
And speaking of Physical Culture 2.0, here’s Skyler Tanner and yours truly speaking truth to power about this emerging paradigm shift from what is currently understood as Physical Culture (or PC 1.0, if you will) at the August 2011 Ancestral Health Symposium:
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the emergence of Physical Culture 2.0 is a healthy, lasting process — less so an anarchistic revolution as it is a phenomenon of transcendence — the building upon (“transcending” in every sense of the word) that which has come before; even that which we might be quick to label “malicious” at best. Carrying forward that which is good and helpful, and simply leaving behind (and with no emotional attachment) that which is not helpful. No failures, only feedback. Learning from previous mistakes; moving forward with no baggage — emotional or otherwise — to drag about.
And while team sports certainly have their role in PC 2.0, for the most part, this is an n=1-driven phenomena; self-mastery, self-betterment…self-knowledge.
The Four T’s
…or one person’s “play” is another person’s metcon…
I’ll speak more to the idea of Exercise vs Activity (or play) in an upcoming post, but for now, let’s just say that activity (or play) to ===> exercise is an n=1-specific continuum, and concentrate here on tools, techniques, time and tenacity; the immutable laws of Physical Culture. As a correlate to the four T’s, consider the speed of light and its position as an immutable law of physics. Just as David Duetsch would say that anything is possible so long as it does not violate the immutable laws of physics, so too is our ability to transform ourselves, in a phynotypical sense, so long as we properly manipulate these four tenants of Physical Culture (diet being the other side of the same coin, of course, and with it’s own set of “immutables”). Now this isn’t so “woo-woo” as it might first appear. Let’s, for the sake of argument, consider my last outdoor metcon outing, which went a little something like this:
Wash, rinse, and repeat x3. I won’t get into a full-on explanation of all the individual elements (I’ll post a video of this in the near future), or hella-bitch about the temperature being a nice one-ohh-whatever-the-fuc! outside during this particular shindig…
Ozzie says, "Texas heat blows, yo!"
…no, actually what I want to do is look at this workout through the tools, techniques, time and tenacity lens.
What’s the take-home message here? Quite simply, this: that Sprint (or High Intensity) Interval Training — even at moderate intensities — can impart some pretty damn impressive physiological adaptations. That’s smart and efficient training, folks; training, by the way, that requires little in the way of tools and, if performed moderately (or “scaled”, if you prefer), only a modicum of tenacity.
Additionally, I’ll tell you this about HIIT/SIT: this manner of training will, in short order, devour an enormous amount of calories, both during — and for many hours following — said exercise bout. And while the metabolism remains jacked for up to 24 hours following a SIT/HIIT bout, there is an even more important shift taking place in the musculature at the fiber-type level: a preferential shift to fast-twitch dominance and a preservation of this fiber type (Bending the Aging Curve, from the above-sited talk and slide presentation). In addition, there will be an up-regulation of anaerobic, ATP, and aerobic enzyme activity. In other words, all energy systems will become more efficient at generating energy and burning calories.
Simply put, training in the anaerobic-glycolytic pathway via proper manipulations of SIT/HIIT methodologies up-regulates all energy pathways (yes, including aerobic oxidation), making them more efficient and, as a result, making you a better conditioned Physical Culturalist. So high-intensity exercise elicits a high output from all metabolic energy systems — however, this does not work both ways. Training for endurance (aerobically, i.e., long and slow) will not lead to equal up-regulation of ATP and CP or anaerobic glycolytic enzyme activity/pathways, simply because aerobic type training does not stress these systems.
Now, let’s shift environments (and available tools), and see if we can produce the same type of metabolic effect using old-school black iron. Check out this workout from earlier in the week. I also ran a few of my more advanced clients through this same, Martin Rooney inspired, black iron circuit, which can, of course, be scaled (or exercises can be swapped) so as to suit any ability level. Remember the emphasis here is on metcon/energy system training, not strength, per se. Since the “rules of the game” are such that I have a 30-minute time limit, and that I’ll need to rely on old-school tools to accomplish the task, I’ll have to select exercises that can be performed safely under some pretty severe fatigue. Uhhh, so yeah — that means Oly lifts/derivatives are out 😉
So here’s what I ended up with:
power sumo DLs x 10
T-bar swings x 20
alternating lead-foot BTN jerks x 10 total
wash, rinse, repeat x3.
Tough? Yeah, you bet your sweet ass it is. But the cool thing is that anyone, in any condition, can perform this basic theme (scaling and/or subbing exercises where necessary) and — as the study sited above demonstrates — derive some fantastic benefits from it. So my “play” might be somebody else’s beat-down, but that’s the beauty of this Physical Culture thing — it’s all about the n=1 experience.
“A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that’s unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein
Heh; OK, so you thought I’d fallen off the edge of the earth, huh? Well, not exactly; it’s just that I’ve just been dedicating most of my spare time toward prepping my presentations for this summer’s upcoming 21 Convention in Orlando, and the Ancestral Health Symposium in LA. What little time I have had for leisure reading as of late has been directed toward (on the recommendation of my good friend Ken O’Neill, of Smart Fit) Peter McAllister‘s Manthropology, and a couple of 1985 editions of The Coaching Association of Canada’s “Science Periodical On Research and Technology in Sport”; in particular, Strength Training Part I (Classification of Methods), and Part II (Structural Analysis of Motor Strength Qualities and its Application to Training).
For an overview of McAllister’s fine book — and a bit of fascinating follow-on audience Q&A with the author, checkout thisfora.tv presentation. If there were any lingering doubts in your mind as to whether the agricultural revolution has been a complete and utter disaster vis-a-vis mankind’s robust nature (the male, specifically), this work should once-and-for-all nullify those doubts. And if any doubts remained as to whether the human genome has suffered as a consequence of (1) a lack of “herd thinning”, and (2) a general and substantial decline in the required day-to-day “honing and hardening” of the genome, this should eliminate those doubts as well.
It has been my long-standing belief that we (trainees) can not only acclimate to — but indeed thrive under — a much greater work capacity than we (society in general; the S&C community in particular) currently give ourselves credit for. This book goes a long way toward substantiating that notion. Greek trireme rowers offer a perfect meme for this idea of a robust general citizenry’s work capacity. A greater work capacity allows a trainee to spend more productive time actually training (general S&C, or sport-specific), simple as that. Think of work capacity as GPP (general physical preparedness) writ large.
Although I certainly (and highly) respect the work of Art DeVany and Doug McGuff, I do have to respectively disagree with them on the point of hunter-gatherer’s average daily energy expenditure, and hence, modern man’s toleration for (relatively) high-frequency bouts of intense exercise.
A quick interlude is in order here. I take the point of view that looking to modern hunter-gatherer societies is not a particularly good example of our true genetic potential vis-a-vis inherent work capacity. Modern HG’s simply do not face the same predatory fears that our more distant relatives faced on a day-to-day basis. I picture bands of stone age HGs constantly pursuing migrating game while at the same time themselves being pursued by predators. No time to lounge and eat figs between infrequent hunts for these HGs. Man as the Hunted-Gatherer is the scenario that makes much more sense to me. That means bursts of high power output, yes — but those bursts were interspersed within a constant, and continual movement/migration, rather than idleness.
Art, Doug and myself do, however, agree on the ridiculously small amount of intense exercise required to maintain a person’s general health. What I’m speaking of here is pushing the performance envelope while ensuring that health remains optimum — in other words, the other side of the health-performance curve.
“Heath” of course, is a multifaceted, ever-evolving concept; one thing we can agree on, though, is that the definition of health as being the mere absence of disease is, well…lame. We’re smarter than that, and demand more than the “vacuum definition”, pedestrian take.
I’ll flesh this idea out a bit more at the 21 Convention, but essentially “health” is a balance between, one the one hand, maintaining optimum internal parameters (blood profiles, inflammation markers, organ and joint robustness, etc.), and on the other, maximizing one’s ability to both produce, and absorb, force — in other words (and if we introduce a time element here, which we must as we live in the “real world”), the ability to generate and absorb power under various and unpredictable, “real life” scenarios. The “various and unpredictable, ‘real life’ scenarios” part implies that there is a certain environmental and ontological context which must also be considered. Ours is a world mostly free of predators and, in general, one that requires less “honing and hardening” in order to survive. What is considered “healthy” or robust today, however (no matter how spot-on the internal markers might be) would simply not pass muster in Greek society 2,000 years ago. And although those Greek trireme rowers were undoubtedly GPP standout, power-producing machines, one can only speculate as to the state of their internal bio-markers of health. Health and performance is, as are most things in life, a delicate balance against a backdrop of the “unknown and unknowable”.
On the bright side, though, if one assumes a 100,000 year timeframe for most gene mutations to take hold (yeah, yeah, I know — I said most), there is hope. Get your diet squared-away, folks, and bust your ass (intelligently!!) in the gym and in the great outdoors — do your part to put a squelch on this downward slide of man! Become the phenotypical expression your genetic forefathers would be proud to claim!
And a quick aside: here’s a great post on the subject of overtraining (as opposed to under-recovery) — and yes, there is a big difference between the two. And just how does one boost recovery ability? Apart from the obvious (following sound nutritional practices, sleep patterns, and reducing chronic stressors), you’ve got to increase your GPP. It’s the dirty little secret one one wants to talk about. Plain and simple, enhanced performance does not come easy — if you want it, you have to work diligently (though, intelligently) for it. How do I prevent slowdowns due to overuse injury (the tendonitis example in the linked post)? I conjugate — constantly vary — my workouts. My body knows no ruts.
As for those cica 1985 documents — wow! The author is Dr. Dietmar Schmidtbleicher, University of Frankfurt — translated to English by none other than Charles Poliquin. My initial thought upon reading these was, no wonder the Germans (east and west) were so friggin’ dominant in international competition. These things read as if they were written in 2011. Amazing…
~ ^ ~
Presenting the “health/performance continuum” concept to the lay public
The following clip is of me recently addressing a small group of professionals, none of whom (save for one) have anything at all to do with the fitness industry. The topic is the general public’s misconception of the relatedness of athletic prowess to general health.
So I’m trying to whittle this particular off-the-cuff presentation topic down to a solid, professional, 10 to 15 minute deck-plate spiel. And remember, this is addressing the lay public here, and my main objective is to get them to reconsider the definition of “healthy”, and the requirements for maintaining health (by way of commitment — as measured, especially so in time expenditure), and their notions of “health” as it relates to athletic prowess.
Suggestions/critique towards that end would be greatly appreciated. It’s hard for me, sometimes, to think back to a time when I, too, considered extreme athleticism to be analogous to health. I had to actually travel the path to figure this out on my own; surely this misconception can be nipped in the bud — especially so, in young, aspiring athletes. But, too, in those who consider the super human exploits of these athletes, and then think to themselves, “well, I can never do that, ergo, I can never be healthy — so why the hell even attempt?”
Changing this paradigm will be one small step toward changing what is now a world-wide health care crisis. Something I plan on discussing in LA this August.
~ ^ ~
Workouts? Oh hell yeah! Here are a few…
Creative uses for the EZ curl bar; Creds (aka, the single-arm snatch)
Pushing physiological limits, and the study thereof, is indeed an exciting aspect of exercise science. And, as ABC’s Hungry Beast points out, “…few of us have any idea about what it takes to produce a world-beating result… “. To that end, check out this fascinating clip, wherein Kirk Docker deconstructs the machine that is Shane Perkins, Australia’s fastest track cyclist.
Fascinating, yes — but of what relevance does this have to the pursuit of attaining and maintaining optimum health? Well, the same relevance, I think, that the NASA programs ultimately had on trickle-down technologies (think Teflon) used in everyday life. What we can glean from studying these superhuman performances can indeed be used — if modified correctly — in the training of mere mortals looking for enhanced quality of life.
If we consider, once more, my health-performance curve, it’s not difficult to ascertain exactly where on the curve that Shane resides; decidedly (and unapologetically so), in the land of C.
And more power to him; he’s exciting as hell to watch and to study. But to the extent that the general population — those who ought to be concerned with easily-achievable, overall health and well-being — continues to equate “health” with the exploits of the Shane Perkinses of the world, only exacerbates their reluctance to engage in any fitness program whatsoever. Why do anything, when I sure as hell can’t do that? Part of conquering the American (and increasingly so, world-wide) health crisis will be the wholesale paradigm shift away from equating “health” to superhuman athletic performance, and the athletes who produce those performances.
An Autoregulation example
I’ve fielded quite a few questions as of late regarding the real-life execution of Autoregulation, and I figured that filming an actual utilization episode might help to clear things up. As I state in the clip, the Autoregulation template can only be considered just that — a basic recipe, and no more. Watch an expert chef, like Meesus TTP, create an actual gourmet meal by using a recipe as little more than a rough guideline and you’ll know what I’m getting at. Some things you can only learn from time in the kitchen — or time under the bar. It has to be — pardon the cliche — a process.
The Autoregulation weight selection template for the 5 to 7 rep range is simple enough:
1. 50% of expected 6-rep max for 10 -12 reps
2. 75% of expected 6-rep max for 6 reps
3. expected 6-rep max for maximum repetitions
4. adjusted load (according to the performance of set #3, with a target of 6 reps), again, for maximum repetitions.
Of course, we have a preliminary warm-up (and/or “feel-out” sets) for most exercises prior to diving into the 50% set. And most times (as in the example below), my entire workout is built around the Autoregulated exercise. Sometimes, though, I’ll Autoreg two back-to-back exercises in the same workout. The beauty of Autoregulation is that it can accommodate this kind of variance quite well; flexibility being the hallmark of this method. Consider Autoregulation the adjustable wrench in my Physical Culture toolbox. Come on out to the 21 convention next month in Orlando, and we’ll drill even deeper into this most useful concept.
(A2) snatch-grip high pulls: 155/10; 175/7, 7, 7, 7
(B1) ARX dip negatives x 3
*each set of dips was preceded by approximately 7 to 10, CNS activating push-pulls on the Powermax 360.
Volume/Metcon: approximately 20 minutes of the following:
30 seconds on, 15 seconds recovery of 6 different powermax360 movements, followed by alternating hi-box step-ups with 135 lbs (about 30 total steps). Wash, rinse, repeat…
Sprints: 10 x 100 yards (blast 40, cruise 60 format) + 5 x 120 at a straight 75% effort. Tire flips, jumps, monkey bar hi-jinks and rope climb shenanigans.
Mark Sisson, author of “The Primal Blueprint”, to visit Efficient Exercise
If you happen to be in the ATX on Friday, June 24th, at 7PM, c’mon out and join us as we welcome Mark Sisson to the “epicenter of Physical Culture”, and more specifically to Efficient Exercise’s 45th and Burnet Rosedale location, for an informal pot-luck dinner.
The event will be hosted by Austin’s own Primal Living Meet-Up Group, so this is a great opportunity not only to meet one of the guiding stars of the Primal Living movement — Mark Sisson — but to also chat-up the local members of this fascinating group of health-minded individuals.
So bring your favorite Primal/Paleo dish, and come join us for some stimulating conversation and warm camaraderie. Austin’s own Snap Kitchen will be providing some Primal/Paleo-friendly goodies as well, so don’t miss out!
And hey, all of our peeps over at Crossfit Austin, I want you guys to know that y’all are more than welcome as well. C’mon out and help spread that good, Austin, Physical Culture vibe!
Continuing with the Health vs Performance curve theme from last time out, we see that the weekly time investment requirement, relative to increased performance, increases exponentially. I know, I know — big shocker, right? But somehow, this basic tenant becomes…I don’t know…watered down? — or, at least, severely downplayed by some camps. And it’s precisely on this point at which I break ranks with traditional HIT proponents. And I’m no HIT-hater, either; far from it. I personally use HIT-like methodologies to drastically reduce the amount of time I spend in the gym (per-session, and cumulative over the course of a week), and I employ similar methodologies with my clients. So there you have it: I’m running out of islands to be banished from. Tossed from Paleo island for my wanton consumption of raw dairy, and now this: unceremoniously shunned from HIT Inn 😉
Consider how I view this from 30-thousand feet, though. My thoughts are that resistance training, relative to one’s defined goals (of course), have to be considered on a sliding, n=1 scale. Ask me if I can maximize a trainee’s overall health in one hour (or considerably less) a week on an Efficient Exercise prescription and I’ll answer in an unabashed affirmative. Hell, I can even coax some pretty damn impressive performance/body composition results with that 1-hour investment. What I cannot do within that same time constraint, however, is maximize a trainee’s performance potential — unless that trainee’s performance is defined in terms of sport-specific technique, or is primarily an endurance-driven event. Of course, these same trainees will, by necessity, be putting in hours outside of the gym — in the batting cage, for instance, or in the saddle, or on the track. Strength training for these athletes constitutes a performance edge, a means of sound injury prevention, and little more. But in reality, when we speak of required “gym time” vs ROI (return on investment), that talk centers (when not focused primarily on power-driven athletics) around body recomposition; fat-burning and, everyone’s favorite topic, hypertrophy.
…and here’s where the HIT-camp hate mail comes pouring in 😉
But if my time in the trenches has shown me nothing else, it has shown me that if a trainee is looking for maximum hypertrophy, that trainee better be willing to devote a serious amount of time to the pursuit — even if predominantly HIT-like protocols are utilized. And yes, I’m well-versed on what the available science says. And I know all about Mentzer, Viator and Jones. Unfortunately, science is ill-equipped to adequately account for the myriad of moving parts that constitute the whole of hypertrophy. As for Messrs Mentzer, Viator and Jones, I’ll just say that it is my opinion that, just as gravity bends the time-space continuum, so does marketing tend to bend truth.
“But I’m absolutely destroyed after a true, HIT throw-down”, you say? Yeah, no doubt — so am I. And that’s where smartly-programmed, higher repetition work comes into play. And movement splits. And speed-strength work…and strength-speed…and concentric-only focus…and, well, the list goes on. It’s about Conjugate for the masses, my friends. Smart and varied programming. Hypertrophy (and athletic performance as well) is not a simple, linear correlation between short bouts of pin-pointed effort and fiber-type recruitment. Ahh, if it were only that easy! There are many, many moving parts involved in this process, each effected/maximized by different rep schemes, intensity, volumes, etc. Hypertrophy involves an intricately orchestrated — though not fully understood — dance between muscle fibers and satellite cells, growth factors, hormones and the immune system. Add to this the fact that this process is affected on the individual level by such things as genetic predisposition and epigenetic factors such as diet, sleep, stress levels, and — to fully complete the circle — training practices. And these are the determinants we know of. How many others are left to be discovered?
Chasing maximum results? You'll be seeing plenty of this: the Great White Buffalo in the sky. Visions, my friend -- *visions* 🙂
Kurt Harris uses the “doorman” analogy (and brilliantly so, I might add) to illustrate the flux, as opposed to on-off switch, nature of fat metabolism; a similar analogy could be used when discussing hypertrophy. One could consider HIT my overall training “insulin”. But, just as is the case with metabolism, while insulin may in fact be the Godfather hormone, there’s more — much more — to the overall nutrient partitioning/utilization story.
Ultimately though, the question should not be whether HIT and/or single-set-to-failure “works” — it most certainly does — our own Project Transformation proved as much. The question asked, though, should be whether these protocols work vis-a-vis one’s goals and time investment tolerance. Looking to maximize health in a safe and super-effective way? I can think of no better pair of methodologies. Looking to push beyond point A in the above graph? Be prepared to saddle-up some fresh horses, my friend.
And this: a note on that magical point B — the point at which both performance and health (and one could extrapolate, longevity) are, in a perfect balancing act, maximized. My good friend Robb Wolf has equated this point to the triple-point of water ; perfect analogy, I think.
So, my friend, what is it you seek? Is it really truth? Or is it, rather, to notch yet another win for your particular argument?
“…Reasoning was not designed to pursue the truth. Reasoning was designed by evolution to help us win arguments…”
Great Edge article here on what is essentially the essence of epistemic humility. Keep this in mind as you pursue your own n=1 path, and as you filter outside information. And as you disseminate/express your own, formed opinions.
And, in light of my “raising hell on HIT island” (and Paleo island, for that matter), consider this — pissing-off your friends now and again is a good thing 🙂
Looking for an excellent compare/contrast to Doug McGuff’s fabulous work, Body By Science? Then check out Doug Miller’s hot-off-the-press work, Biology for Bodybuilders. The book is concise in areas where Dr. McGuff drills deep (the science of metabolism, for example), and offers a smartly penned, “counterpoint” opinion on the chase for hypertrophy. Which “ideology” you eventually gravitate toward will depend on many things, but in my opinion, the most limiting (in a real-world sense) will, again, be your tolerance vis-a-vis time investment. In other words, are you willing to sacrifice an exponentionally increasing amount of time in hot pursuit of ever-dwindling performance percentile increases? This is the grand question every trainee must answer for him/herself.
…and now I’ve used the term vis-a-vis twice in a single post. It is most definitely time to move on 🙂
Workouts? You bet, here are a few:
First up, check out this workout that I put fellow Efficient Exercise trainer Skyler Tanner through last Thursday — just following the taping of EETV. Simple in design, excruciating in execution; the epitome of brief, brutal and basic. Still think I’m not a fan of HIT? 🙂
And yes, Skyler did report visions of the Great White Buffalo in the sky following that bit of fun. Now on to my own, self-inflicted routines…
Sprints and such; bar work, rope climbs and tire flips. Broad jumps into a sand pit. Hurdle hops.
(A1) dips: 45/10; 90/5, 5, 4 +4 negatives
(A2) chins: bw/10; 45/7, 7, 6+
(B1) bi curl (Oly bar): 135/7, 7, 5 +2
(B2) EZ tri extension: 85/12; 105/10, 8+3
(A1) safety bar squats: +90/10, +180/10, +230/8, +270/4
(A2) Russian leg curls: bw/10, 10, 10, 10
(B1) hip press (H2): 500/25, 25
(A1) CZT/ARX overhead press: HR x 5, 5
(A2) DB front raise: 25/12, 12
(B1) T-bar row: 190/4 sets of 12
(A1) safety bar squat: +140/15
(A2) farmers walks: 2 parking lot loops @ bar +90 each hand
A little Autoreg, with vanity work for good measure
(A1) bi curl (Oly bar): 105/12, 105/6, 135/9, 140/7
(A2) EZ tri extension: 65/12, 105/6, 135/5+, 5
(A3) RLC: bw/7 x 4 sets
Another Autoreg example
(A1) XC 45-deg incline press: (midline +0)/12, +50/6, +50 (rear)/9
(A2) T-bar row: 110/12, 200/6, 245/6, 5
(A1) dynamic trap bar DL: 245 + black bands, 7 sets of 3
Sprints, jumps, tire flips, bar work and such. 60-yard shuttle sprints and pro-agility sprints to mix things up. Broad jumps into a sand pit. Hurdle hops.
More of the same — sprints, jumps, tire flips, bar work and what-not.
And then a few final things:
First up, some musings from the boys at Efficient Exercise. As I said in my Facebook post, we could talk about this stuff for days, folks. And come to think of it, these clips are proving exactly that point 😉
And hey, if you happen to be in the ATX next weekend, make sure to drop by our Efficient Exercise 10th Anniversary and grand-opening open house to be held at out brand-spankin’-new Rosedale location at 45th and Burnet (1403 west 45th street). My cuz-in-law TJ will be puttin’ the hurt on enough brisket, sausage and chicken to feed Sherman’s Paleo army, so come on by and grab a plate — you carnivore you — and talk a little Physical Culture shop. And while you’re there, you can hop a ride on our ARX equipment, and test these bad boys out for yourself. Maybe you can hang on longer than Chad Ocho Cinco?
…well alrighty then 🙂 Can’t blame a man for tryin’…
“We do not rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” – Archilochus
A spot-on observation of human nature, I think. Even so, within those of us who think more highly of ourselves, that it should be otherwise. So much so a true observation, in fact, that I use this quote as my email signature, so that I see it daily.
The following is related to a question I fielded recently from a client, and it’s not unlike the multitude of diet-vs-hypertrophy-related questions I field on a regular basis. The answer to this particular question, of course — like just about every every question related to Physical Culture — is analigous to attempting to tame the ol’ State Fair favorite, the Zipper.
There are just so many moving variables to this question that it’s impossible to give a pat answer here without really taking the time to stop and dismantle each of these whirly-gig cars. I think this “problem of complexity” is a big reason why the majority of folks fall for fads and easy-outs (in diet and in training) — getting to the right answers takes due diligence and, in most cases, it means letting go of previously-taken-to-be-iron-clad-correct “knowledge” — not exactly a feel-good position for many.
And, too (and as always), we need to know the goals of the individual asking the question. And, in this case, we need to define what we even mean by “hypertrophy” — because one person’s “lean mass gain” is another’s “bulk”. Just as an example, look at the difference in Brad Pitt’s physique between his appearance in Fight Club…
and then in Troy…
No doubt Brad is bulkier in Troy — but what of the difference in lean mass between the two appearances? Hard to say. And truth be told, few care. Even if that bulk were 95% intramuscular fat, most (guys, at least) would be more than happy with that.
Now I’m certainly not here to say that intra-muscular fat deposition (bulk) is necessarily a bad thing — I just want to make sure we’re all on the same page when it comes to defining lean mass hypertrophy vs. all-encompassing bulk.
But back to my client’s actual question; what he wants to know is this:
what, if any, body recomposition changes occur over time if one engages in sound hypertrophy-focused training BUT were to limit the diet to maintenance-level calories?Let’s also assume we are talking about someone who is more toward the ectomorph side of the body-type continuum.
Oy vey! Where to begin with this one, huh? Well, first off let’s assume “maintenance calories” to mean “eating to satiation”, because, in reality, anything else would simply give credence to the now debunked (at least within normal parameters, i.e., between starvation and wanton gluttony) calories-in/calories-out theory. So, what we’re talking about here is simply eating a decent, Paleo-ish diet, to satiation, and absolutely not obsessing about such things as, oh… maintaining a positive nitrogen balance, or some other such lunacy — i.e., living a real, non-OCD life outside of the gym. Now, that said, what I’ve observed during my 30+ years in the iron game is this: given proper stimulus (and favorable genetic/hormonal underpinning), hypertrophy “happens” even in an environment of less-than-adequate nutritional support.
The kicker, of course, being proper stimulus. To put it another way, busting ass in the gym trumps anything that one does, or does not, shove down the ol’ pie-hole. I would even go further to say that busting ass trumps the use of fine pharmaceuticals, but that’s a discussion for another time.
Taubes gives a great example in Why We Get Fat (though geared toward fat gain — the same applies here) of a teen going through a growth spurt. Assuming decent nutritional support (i.e., no starvation), growth is a function of the hormonal environment within the body, not a function of forced intake of excess calories. In other words, a growing teen eats like he has a friggin’ hollow leg, and/or is (by his parent’s definition), a “lazy”, never-gonna-get-a-job-and-get-out-of-the-frackin’-house bum, *because* he is growing, not so as to *induce* said growth. Hypertrophy is much the same, though on a lesser (caloric requirement wise) scale. Think of it this way: stimulus drives the hypertrophy train, nutrition simply supports, to a very limited degree, the effort. And hey, I’m all for adequate support, but let’s just not forget what the real driver is here.
Now, I do concede a certain credence, if you will, to the other side of the argument (of which, this Dr. Lonnie Lowery/Rob “Fortress” Fortney-penned T-Nation article is the best I’ve come across in a long while) — that is to say, that properly administered overeating will establish a more favorable anabolic environment within the body, and therefore promote (better? Faster?) hypertrophy gains. What we’re talking about here, though, is a matter of degree — and, again, the difference between bulk and lean-mass hypertrophy must be vetted. And, too, we’re speaking again of multiple variables. I don’t think I’ve ever come across and individual who’s gone headlong into a “mass gain” phase, who didn’t also jack his/her gym intensity into the stratusphere concurrent with devouring everything they could get their hands on. Did they put on mass/bulk? You bet they did. But what really drove the train here, the newly-heightened input stimulus or surplus calories? I’ll put my money on the stimulus side of things, every time.
Another “eat your way big” argument that has some merit (in my observation, at least), is the “improved lever” argument. That is to say, increased bulk provides for better about-the-joint lever advantages, which allows one to push heavier weights, which promotes additional hypertrophy. I also believe there’s some merit to the point-of-origin energy supply argument. All fine and well. Until, that is, Johnny Bulk-Up decides that he’s now ready to diet-down to reach his original goal of being lean and muscular. Rut-Ro…
As the Dalia Lama says, many paths lead to the same destination 🙂
And I won’t even begin to delve into the fool’s errand of even attempting to second-guess the body’s caloric requirements with any measure of accuracy. Weigh and measure? Meh. Let us, instead, focus on the things that are, at least somewhat, within our control. Things like consuming a proper Paleo diet, a diet of a favorable macro-nutrient disposition dependent upon our own (smartly conducted) n=1 determination. Things like busting ass in the gym in an intelligently programmed way (which includes being mindful of spinning into the overtraining pit). Things like eating when you’re truly hungry, getting adequate ZZzzzzz’s, ditching chronic stress where possible — and not stressing about the chronic stresses that you can’t avoid.
So does proper diet matter in the hunt for hypertrophy? Sure it does. It just pales in comparison, though, to those gut-wrenching gym sessions. Look at it this way: if eating one’s way big had merit, Arnold’s physique would be the norm. My take is that time spent obsessing over caloric intake would be much better spent learning meditative/awareness practices that allow one to push past the mind’s “shutdown” threshold. Become a student of focus, intensity and self awareness, and let the body mind it’s own caloric needs. It does so brilliantly, thank you very much — and much better than you (your mind, ego) could ever hope to, so long as you provide it access to the proper raw staples.
So there you have it. Is your goal to attain (in accordance with your genetic limitations) 70s Big status, or the raw, lean and muscular look? The truth of the matter is, my friend, that you can’t have it both ways.
A muse for Physical Culture?
My good friend, and uber-talented artist, Jeanne Hospod, has an interesting project going on here:
Let’s just say she’s doin’ the best she can with the block-head muse she has to work with 🙂 Seriously, though, Jeanne is an exceptional Austin-area artist — and a kind, kind soul to boot. Check out her work; you’ll be glad you did. Very cool stuff indeed. And the process is simply amazing. I had no idea of the complexity…
Want to begin your PhD in Physical Culture? Start with this lecture from my good friend Ken O’Neill. Brilliant insights from an erudite champion of Physical Culture. Pull up a chair, put on a pot of Joe, and dive deep into the very essence of the “new” Physical Culture movement. Well done, Ken.
Workouts for the last couple of weeks. Now you may have noticed that my blogging has been a bit sporadic since my move here to Austin. And it’s for good reason — I’m busy as all hell! Seriously, though, many of the “quick hit” topics I generally now cover over at the Efficient Exercise Facebook page. Topics I choose to flesh-out a bit more will find their way here. And so it goes. Anyway, so friend us up over at our Facebook page, where Skyler, Mark Alexander and I go “around the horn” with many current health, fitness, and all-encompassing topics related to our favorite subject — Physical Culture.
OK, so a couple of short clips are worth a thousand words 🙂 A little 21st century technology paired with a smattering of old school favorites add up to a total upper-body thrashing. Sweet!
(A1) power snatch (close grip): 115/5, 5, 5, 135/4
(A2) hanging L-raise: 15, 15, 15, 15
(B1) hip press: (setting @ H2), 200lbs+ 1 grey and 1 black band, 8 sets of 3
(A1) trap bar DL (low grip): 265/7, 355/7, 405/5, 5
(A2) chins: 45/7, 55/5, 5, 4+
(A3) dips: 45/7, 70/5, 6, 7
Here’s a look at how the final round went down…
…dude! What happened to your hair?? Yeah, so I went all Duke Nukem. Summers are friggin’ hot here in the ATX, gimme a break. And I’m down with the minimalist upkeep. Metro-sexual man I am not 🙂 Gimme chalk on my hands, a fixed-speed bike, and a doo I don’t have to f&%# with, thank you very much!
Sprints! And climbing ropes, parallel bars, a 40-rung, super-wide set of monkey bars, a scaling wall and a waist to chest-high retaining wall for jumps. Big, big fun!
2 rounds of the following: (A1) hip press (H2 setting): 400/12, 500/6, 600/3 (hierarchical sets) (A2) standing roll-outs: 15
2 rounds of the following: (A1) Naut pec dec: 95/12, 105/6, 115/3 (hierarchical sets) (A2) XC flat press: (+50) 4, 3+ ( 80X0 tempo; X=fast as possible)
Yoga, an ancient but perfect science, deals with the evolution of humanity. This evolution includes all aspects of one’s being, from bodily health to self-realization. Yoga means union – the union of body with consciousness and consciousness with the soul. Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one’s actions.
~ B.K.S. Iyengar, Astadala Yogamala
…”There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”
So I was listening to Krista Tippett’s On Being last week — Krista’s show being one of my favorite commute podcasts — and was absolutely enthralled by Seane Corn’s description of Yoga as being “body prayer”. What an awesome analogy. And not just for Yoga, but, in my mind, for all pursuits of true Physical Culture. This is one commonality that I’ve observed among those who, regardless of their particular fitness expression of choice, remain in the Physical Culture scene for the long haul — that the expression of choice becomes a vehicle for (or toward) something much greater than becoming better at that particular discipline. In essence, practice of the particular discipline of choice continually re-establishes that connection between “self” and “other”. Refined and bettered skills, body composition, what-have-you then become a nice secondary consequence, rather than the focus of the pursuit itself; it’s rather like the old axiom of only finding true love when you’re not actively looking for it, or of finding God only in the silence and stillness.
Of course it wasn’t always this way for me, and I initially came to Physical Culture as a kid who wanted to get “swole”, dominate on the football field and, of course, (and being devoid of any other talent) to gain some kind of an inside with the ladies. I believe this is the natural course of action for these things. Great artists, it seems to me — those with real staying power — follow a similar path. And what is the essence of Physical Culture if not an artistic expression of sorts, or (and to steal a rif from Seane), body prayer?
case in point: just check out how Seane describes her practice of Vinyasa Flow Yoga, in the clip below. Does this not sound like an athlete — any athlete — in the zone?
The linking of mind and body; remaining clear and steady, focused and grounded. I like to associate Yoga (and like practices — for me, that would include hucking the ol’ fixie about town and sprinting. MovNat-like endeavors? Yep, that, too) as the “Yin” to HIIT’s “Yang” aspect. And in both practices, I attempt to engage what Seane is speaking of here — a direct linking of mind, body and spirit. I have a client who is active in both weight training and ballet; an awesome pairing, I think. And kudos to her for dismantling preconceived notions both of what it is to be an dancer, as well as what it is to be a hellified strength athlete.
Now, most would consider a high-intensity slam-fest as being anything but a spiritual journey; why, though? In my mind, it’s just another pathway, another opportunity to “connect”. Anything that is physically challenging, and that can help razor-focus the mind is an opportunity to help link the spirit to the other — whatever “other” might mean for you.
Physical Culture as analogous to the culinary arts –
Have a look at the menu offerings at one of my and Meesus TTP’s favorite Austin-area restaurants, Foreign & Domestic. Beyond this being high-dining “hog heaven” for the Paleo-minded, I am reminded, once again, of the parallels between the crafting a fine dining experience and expert fitness programming. Both become works of art in the hands of the skilled practitioner; both, too, can become deconstructed and devalued to the point of being nothing more than a soulless, for-profit-only, vehicle. Quality, in both disciplines, can be found in the love of, and absolute reverence for, the art. Industrial fitness, like industrial food, is an anathema to the refined pallet. And, too, elegance is found in simplicity. The good need not be complicated and, in fact, to the extent that a food or fitness program is overly complicated is simply an attempt at covering what is lackluster at the onset.
simple ingredients, simple food, high taste
On to the workout front –
Sprints at the local high school. Ropes, bars, and other fun. Check out some of the new toys!
Climbing ropes in the background. Oh, yeah….
(A1) snatch grip high pull: 135/7; 165/7; 185/6; 205/6
(A2) dips: 45/7; 70/7; 80/7; 95/5
(A3) pull-aparts (red band): 15, 15, 15, 15
(A1) power cleans: 5 sets of 7 (fast cadence), 30 secs between sets
(B1) straight bar DL: 225/5; 315/5; 365/3; 415/1; 435/1, 1, 1, 1, 1 – very little rest between sets. Leaned toward more of a metabolic hit vs an expression of max strength.
AM – Pendulum Hip Press – 145 + 2 black bands, 8 sets of 3. Speed!
PM – Pendulum Hip Press – 145 + 2 black bands, 8 sets of 3. Speed!
Immediately following each of these leg press sessions, I hopped on the old fixie and rode — hard, but intermittently so; fast when I did put the hammer down, though and pretty damn far as well! All-in-all, a nice mix of work. And in excellent, ATX (spring-like!) weather.
And finally –
The Austin Primal Living Group hosted a pot luck dinner on Saturday, March 12th; among the many attendees was none other than Angelo Coppela, host of the most informative and expertly produced, Latest in Paleo podcast. Angelo and his friend Tom Sadira (mistahmojo!) were here in the ATX — the epicenter of Physical Culture — to attend the now infamous South by Southwest Film, Interactive and Music festival. Angelo and Tom were nice enough to take time out of their SXSW partying to drop by our little Austin area Primal Meet-Up shin-dig, even going so far as to bring along some of that rockin’ Paleo beef jerky. And it’s a tasty recipe, indeed! Do check it out.
On Sunday, Meesus TTP, Angelo, Tom and I swung by the Efficient Exercise Westlake studio for a CZT/ARX (Accommodating Resistance EXercise) throw-down. Both of the fellas survived the session (at least long enough to get in a post-workout photo op, and some follow-on Tweeting), but apparently brought Fago de Chao to it’s collective knees in trying to satisfy the guys’ resultant — and rampant — follow-on carnivory 🙂
Me, the lovely Meesus TTP, and Angelo. Hat tip to Tom “mistahmojo” for snapping the pic
Check out the clips of the guys’ CZT/ARX tussle at the Efficient Exercise YouTube page, or at our Facebook page. Sweet! But be forewarned – you might want to tone the volume down a bit when watching Tom’s workout, if you think the shrapnel from a little F-bombs might hurt 😉
“…Can’t we at least give one another the benefit of the doubt? I can be somewhat patient with people who think they have the truth, the problem is those who think they have the whole truth.
It seems to me that too quickly categorizing others as wrong or mistaken is consummate arrogance and is not honoring the mystic’s journey. The mystic always knows it can’t easily be talked about. It’s beyond words. It’s ineffable. It will always be mystery; and this experience of something that is always mystery and is always bigger than our ability to understand it, is, in fact, what makes one into a mystic. It allows us to use the old shibboleth, but with a new twist: “Those who really know don’t talk too easily. Those who talk too easily don’t really know…”
– Fr. Richard Rohr
Okay, so here’s a philosophical question for you; one with a strength and conditioning flavor: in any given situation, and with all other things being equal, is it better to perform the best exercise selection half-heartedly, or a lackluster selection with all-out intensity?
Things that make ya go hmmmmm….
As a coach/personal trainer, I run up against this dilemma on a daily basis. But here’s the thing — it’s not enough that I know that the trainee ought to concentrate on the bang-for-the-buck lifts — things like deadlifts, dips, pull-ups and sprints — it’s my job to sell them on that fact. But here’s the rub: if I can’t coax a full-on, Dorian Yates-like intensity from a client on a set of trap-bar deadlifts, am I better off opting for a better buy-in for a flashier move; single-leg RDLs, say? Some form or fashion of glute bridge? Yeah, I know the purists out there would scoff at the idea of compromise (God forbid!), but in most cases these “purists” don’t interact where the rubber meets the real-world road. My take? I’ll settle for a good dose of intensity in the lackluster vs “going through the motions” on the money moves; I’ll concede the battle and live to fight another day. The pursuit of optimum Physical Culture is a lifelong chase and, like smoke, it cannot ever be completely grasped, only approached; never be completely known, but only hinted at. My job is to keep my charges healthy, progressing, and above all, on the path. This is just another instance of not allowing the perfect to be the detriment of the good. The fact of the matter is that I do win this battle more times than not, and that’s something I can feel good about. Is the client progressing overall? Are their goals being met? Do I have them in the game, spirited, optimistic and enthusiastic in their pursuit of optimum Physical Culture? If I can answer yes to all of these, then what’s the harm in doing some vanity curls now and again in lieu of some hard -and-heavy chins? None that I can see.
And speaking of not allowing the perfect to be the detriment of the good, we have a recent episode of The People’s Pharmacy, Sugar Hazards, featuring Dr. Robbert Lustig. Now many Paleo camp purists out there will lambaste Dr. Lustig for his speaking of “healthy whole grains”, but for the most part, this is a good interview for mainstream consumption. Let’s face it, the vast majority will have to be won over to the Paleo/EvFit/Ancestral Fitness movement in a piecemeal fashion — a little here, a little there — and “a little here” is much better in my book than a deaf ear and a “not at all”.
Hmmm, does the following sound familiar or what?
“…To neurophysiologists, who research cognitive functions, the emotionally driven appear to suffer from cognitive deficits that mimic certain types of brain injuries. Not just partisan political junkies, but ardent sports fans, the devout, even hobbyists. Anyone with an intense emotional interest in a subject loses the ability to observe it objectively: You selectively perceive events. You ignore data and facts that disagree with your main philosophy. Even your memory works to fool you, as you selectively retain what you believe in, and subtly mask any memories that might conflict.
Studies have shown that we are actually biased in our visual perception – literally, how we see the world – because of our belief systems…”
I treat the pursuit of optimum Physical Culture the same way that Meesus TTP treats her pursuit of the culinary arts; as just that — an open-ended art — an art which has an underpinning in basic, solid science, yes — but an ever-shifting art nonetheless. I don’t wish to alienate either camp, but walk and talk effortlessly between each side of the divide. And there does exist just such a divide — a divide that needs to be bridged for the better of each discipline. Check out what John Brockman has to say on the subject, from the recent Wired article, Matchmaking with science and art:
What is it that gets you interested in a person or their work?
“…I am interested in people who can take the materials of the culture in the arts, literature and science and put them together in their own way. We live in a mass-produced culture where many people, even many established cultural arbiters, limit themselves to secondhand ideas. Show me people who create their own reality, who don’t accept an ersatz, appropriated reality. Show me the empiricists (and not just in the sciences) who are out there doing it, rather than talking about and analysing the people who are doing it…”
Yes, exactly. Show me the Physical Culturalists with this mindset; follow these people closely, for here is where the future of Physical Culture is headed.
Okay, reader’s letters time. The first one here is rather long, but I decided to include the whole thing because it demonstrates a thorough self-evaluation; the type of self-evaluation required for accurate n=1 investigation. My comments/answers will be interspersed here in blue.
First and foremost thank you for taking the time to respond to my email. I’ve been following your blog and Facebook posts since last July and find them both to be very enlightening, well written, informative, and very much in line with my own beliefs and objectives to fitness and health. I found you via a reference on freetheanimal which I faithfully follow, as well.
I apologize in advance for the length of this email, but I want to provide you with enough information to hopefully leave you with a relatively good understand of my approach and the challenges that I face and would like to overcome.
Here’s just a short summary to begin with details subsequently in the email. I acknowledging that there are genetic limitations and age factors to consider, I’m just not convinced that I am incapable of making some further progress.
My Story (summary)
I just turned 58. While, my age may be somewhat of a factor I don’t consider it the reason I have difficulty putting on lean mass. I couldn’t do it at 25 either, but by my estimation that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t keep trying.
I’m 5’9″ and presently around 146 pounds. Extremely small frame and bone structure; most women probably have thicker wrists than I do. At my present weight I’m still around 13% body fat; most all of it around my lower mid section (navel area). By my calculations I would still need to drop another 7-9 lbs to get to single digit body fat. While I could easily do that, I just can’t bring myself to let my weight get that low. Therefore, I eat…and eat.
Don’t misunderstand. I can gain weight by eating processed foods and sugar and watch it turn to belly fat. I just can’t seem to put on lean muscle.
I’ve done resistance training on and off since I was in my mid to late 20’s. My approach up until about 2 years ago was always the standard multiple set approach 3 to 4 times a week. I’d plateau after about 3 months end up either hurting myself trying to lift more weight than I could handle, or else just get frustrated at the lack of progress and quit. This would typically go 1-2 years on; 3-4 years off cycles and repeat.
About 2 years ago a little voice inside my head told me to get fit once and for all and find an approach that works for me; since the convention wisdom approach certainly does not. I went on a quest of such a program. I stumbled upon Body By Science and began Doug McGuff’s and John LIttle’s program/recommendations which I’m still following today. I’ve had more success with this approach than anything else I’ve tried, but I’m far from where I’d like to be. They also have some sort of technical issue that will not allow me to post questions to their blog which precludes me from seeking advice via that venue.
My diet is very Paleo’ish. I began eating that way coincidentally just before reading BBS — not as a result of BBS. Interesting, I discovered both Paleo and BBS about the same time and through different avenues.
My health is good. I’m on no medications presently and most all my health issues went away almost immediately following the Paleo approach. My weight dropped considerably at the same time. I was around 178 lbs when I started Paleo.
As stated above I am very strict regarding the Paleo approach to food. I’m reluctant to say Paleo diet, because that implies food restriction, which I do not do.
I’m not dogmatic about what is considered Paleo. For instance, I do eat potatoes, salt, dairy, but abstain from grains (wheat, rice, oats, bread, pasta, etc.), sugar, vegetable oils and such. I do not drink milk, but consume a considerable amount of cream, butter and cheese. I easily go through a pint of cream a week in my coffee and frequently with berries as a dessert.
Meats and eggs are my staples. I rotate through an assortment of vegetables, maybe not with every meal, but several through out the week. I go out of my way to add good fats to my diet (read: animal fats, coconut oil, olive oil, etc.).
I travel a lot and eat out most meals through the week. I’ve found that by being selective on a menu I can usually find something that works. The downside is you don’t always know what you’re getting when eating out. On weekends I typically cook for myself.
I eat well and I eat a lot. Here’s an example: Wednesday for breakfast I had approximately 1/2 dozen eggs, 5 slices of bacon, 2 sausage and coffee for breakfast. Lunch was Fajitas (minus the tortillas’) with sour cream and guacamole. Dinner: Caesar Salad (no croutons) , A 20 oz bone-in rib eye, baked potato with butter and sour cream.
A couple dozen eggs and 2-3 steaks a week are the norm for me. I try to go organic when the choice is available. I work in some fish, but I’m not a huge sea food lover. Salads when I can’t find anything else on the menu that works, but it has to have meat. I supplement with cod liver oil to try and balance my Omega 3 a bit.
I am sensitive to most all other supplements, though. For reasons, I have never understood, vitamin and mineral supplements put me in a complete brain fog. With the exception of CLA and chromium I’ve never found anything I can tolerate. The high potency CLO has a similar effect, as well. I can take the regular Carlson CLO, but not the high potency and never more than one teaspoon per day. Strange, but true. Oh, I just bought a container of whey to try. I seem to tolerate it well. I cannot do creatine, either
I experimented for 3 weeks over the recent holidays with Intermittent Fasting and my weight started dropping like a rock. I dropped about 6 lbs with that approach over 3 weeks. Essentially, I would go 14-16 hours without eating then re-feed for 8. The easiest approach for me was to just skip breakfast and start my re-feed around noon each day. No problems with this approach and I certainly leaned out quickly, but I didn’t feel comfortable letting my weight get that low. I went off this approach the past week and put 3 lbs back on. I was 146 this morning on the scale. No visible muscle loss with that approach that I ascertain, though.
This, by the way, is essentially what I do each day as well, though the bulk of my eating is done during an approximate 6-hour window, beginning (again, usually) approximately 1-2 hours post workout. Ergo, my workouts are nearly always performed in a well-fasted (approximately 15-hours) state. This has more to do with my work schedule/client load more so than any active/on-going attempt to loose weight (which I’m not trying to do). This method does keep me fairly ripped, though, year round.
Essentially, high fat and real foods is my approach. I’ll detail my health improvements later.
Fitness and Exercise
As previously mentioned, I’ve done resistance training off and on for years. No cardio to speak of. I hate running and look awful in biker shorts 🙂
On occasion, I’ve tried sprinting. While I’m not opposed, I’m not crazy about putting up with the elements preferring my workouts to be indoors. . I’ve read on your blog that this is in your regimen and I’m certainly more than willing to add to mine, if it makes sense to do so.
Sprinting is a fantastic metabolic boost, not to mention a hell of a lower body workout (see my comments on the Metabolic/T-bar swing below). It also serves to keep one coordinated, streamlined and graceful, i.e. moving naturally, with the fluidity of a cat. My only lament is that I can’t sprint more often than what I do.
I have had memberships in the past to some good fitness centers (at least from the equipment perspective), but opted several years back to purchase a Bowflex machine and do my resistance training at home. I am still using it. It seems to suffice and by working out at home I can moan, groan and grunt through my BBS thing without getting strange looks.
It does have its limitations. I’ve maxed out the amount of resistance I can use for leg presses. I typically pre-exhaust my legs, or perform a Max Pyramid style requiring less weight (another BBS approach from John Little).
We’ll soon have a home version of our CZT equipment (that will sell under the name of ARX Fit; “ARX” for Accommodating Resistance EXercise) on the market and, in fact, we’ll be putting up some video clips soon of the equipment in action. The ARX Fit website will be rolling out soon. Our target demographic here is the Bowflex crowd — Bowflex being, in my opinion a decent piece of home equipment, however, I feel that the CZT home version will be both much more versatile, and one will never run into the problem of “outgrowing” the equipment. So keep an eye out for that. As soon as we’re live with the website, I’ll post about it here at TTP. I’ll also get those clips up over at the Efficient Exercise YouTube channel as soon as they’re ready.
I presently have access to a reasonably good facility where I’m currently working during the week should we decide I need to go back to free weights, or better equipment. Or, I’m not opposed to joining a facility to use when I am at home, but would prefer not.
I am going to assume you are familiar with BBS. I seem to recall some mention of it on your blog. I’m currently working out once per week with that approach and have for the past 18-24 months. I believe I do a reasonably well controlled HIT lifts. I’ve rotated through some split routines, Max Pyramids, Big 3 and Big 5 since beginning BBS. I’m currently back to Big 5. (Bench Press, Lat pulls, Military Press, Rows, and Leg Press on a once per week schedule.
I’m very familiar with the BBS methodology and, for the most part, I think that it’s spot-on. As is with any methodology, though, the body will eventually acclimate and cease to progress. Remember that strength and hypertrophy are metabolically costly, and the body’s imperative is purely survival — that’s it — not “lookin’ good nekkid”, or hoisting supra-natural poundages in arbitrary lifts, nor dropping to sub-7% bodyfat levels. The body is simply a carrier for your DNA (I’ll leave spiritual issues aside for the moment) and so will only begrudgingly (and in the most metabolically effective way possible) respond to changes in outside stimulus. The key here is to maintain high intensity in a constantly varied set of exercises, modalities and methodologies. In other words, the over-arching “system” for your workouts should be conjugate in nature. Can the BBS protocol be tweaked so as to become a more conjugate system? Absolutely; but then again, any protocol can thus be tweaked.
After somewhat of a stalemate a few months back I discovered what I thought had been high intensity, was not truly all my best. After working through a little more pain and discomfort I found that I could really push myself more than I had in the past. This is my present approach. I’ve seen my numbers go up considerably over the past few months as it relates to the amount of weight I can move with steady increases almost every week.
I don’t know if you can relate to Bowflex numbers, or not, but here are my current stats. I’m certain they are much higher numbers than if I were to switch to free weights for the same, or equivalent movement. Here they are never-the-less as of this past week’s workout.
Seated Bench – 230 1X6
Lat pull (palms up shoulder width grip) – 260 1X8
Rows – 290 1X8
Over head military- 160 1X6
Leg Press – 410 (pre-exhausted after holding weight for 1-2 mins in mid position)) 1X6
The numbers above probably represent on average a 5 lbs improvement in strength per week over the past 3 months in each movement. Again, this is once per week routine, one set per movement, and reasonably slow and controlled (more so on the negative side). I don’t track time under load (TULs) any longer. I figure it is what it is. I do go to failure on all movements, though. I don’t move from set to set quite as quickly as BBS recommends, since I have to setup the machine for each. Also, a bit of a rest between each allows me to move more weight, perhaps a bit of a cardio trade-off I’ve been willing to forego.
Intensity trumps all other considerations. TUL is a concern in that you want a particular set to terminate before the slow-twitch fibers have a chance to rejuvenate and join back in with the “all hands (fibers) on deck” lifting party. Again, the body is wired for survival, and will not call upon those fast-twitch fibers until absolutely necessary.
A general observation on my part is that my weakest muscles seem to respond the best. For instance, if I go back 30 years ago I had very weak triceps and hated to triceps work. Consequently, I worked triceps infrequently over the years. Now they are perhaps my most developed area. Same with deltoids which I never worked at all until recently, but I’m seeing some good results there, as well. Contrarily, my forearms are reasonably strong, but embarrassingly poorly developed. Not sure if this makes sense, or not, but a source of confusion to be based upon how I respond to resistance training.
Note that hypertrophy has many genetic factors, the three biggest players being the fiber make-up of the particular muscle, the size of the muscle belly, and the lever make-up at the joint in question. The longer the muscle, relative to the associated tendon length, the more material is present to “mold”. Tendon attachment and the resultant lever advantage about a particular joint (s) has much to say about how much load can ultimately be placed upon a particular muscle. Those who’ve “won the parent lottery” have a higher-than-normal concentration of fast-twitch fibers in a given muscle, a long muscle belly and advantageous lever systems throughout the body. These are the “mechanical” factors to consider — let’s not forget that the hormonal milieu has much to say about this expression as well. The good news is that, while you may not be able to do much to alter the scaffolding you’ve been dealt, you can most certainly positively influence the hormonal profile under which “construction” takes place.
I am most likely a Celiac although that’s a self diagnosis. What I found by eliminating grains from my diet many life long health issues disappeared — almost immediately. I didn’t know what a Celiac was until I got into the Paleo world and started reading. My problems started with a complete intestinal blockage when I was 12 years old and emergency surgery to clean out a blocked intestine. Doctors then just sent me home and essentially said, “Duh, we don’t know and good luck.”. I had gastro problems the rest of my life. Coincidentally, my growth also stopped very shortly thereafter. I am essentially the same height and weight as I was then. Up until that time I was always the tallest kid in school; even played center on the Jr. High basketball team. By high school I was considered short. There’s a correlation to my present size and weight, but not necessarily a causation that I can prove.
Health and Paleo Successes
GERD is no longer a problem and other gastro problems which I won’t describe are gone. I was also in chronic pain with tendonitis in both elbows, knees, and, most severely both Achilles’ tendons. I’d had that affliction since 14 yrs. That is now completely gone. Allergies – gone. Even my eye sight has improved. I could go one, but I’m sure you get the point. The Paleo diet has been a life saver for me and I would never consider any other approach to eating.
In two words — lean muscle. I can’t really gain weight on Paleo, but due to the health benefits described above I wouldn’t consider going off it. Having said that, I’m tired of people asking me if “I’m ill” and the “Oh, you’re so skinny” remarks. Truthfully, I’ve never felt better in my life, but people just see thin.
I recognize the genetic and age limitation, but I really feel 10-15 lbs of lean weight over the next 12-18 months should be attainable with the right approach. I’m not looking, or expecting, a body builder physique.
Lastly, I’m not looking for a free hand-out either. I know you are in the fitness industry and if consulting fees apply here let me know. If Austin were just a bit closer I’d drive down to your fitness for personal training advice.
Keith, I sincerely appreciate your assistance and look forward to hearing from you.
It sounds like you’ve got all the basics well covered, Jeff. One thing you didn’t mention though, is your overall stress level and your sleep patterns. Undue stress and/or lack of quality sleep can really put the kibosh on any meaningful strength or hypertrophy gains. The propensity toward “spare tire” or belly fat is a sure sign of a jacked cortisol level. It wouldn’t hurt to look into a good nighttime ZMA or Natural Calm supplement protocol. Personally, I use Now Foods ZMA (or an equivalent) nightly. Also, we haven’t looked at nutrient absorption and (especially so, since you’ve had a history of some pretty gnarly gastro-intestinal problems), so my suggestion here would be to look into some digestive enzymatic help via (for instance) Now Foods super enzymes. Check Robb Wolf’s site for more on this. Good nutrient intake is only part of the equation — a part that, it seems, you have well under control. Proper absorption, though, is another issue entirely. In addition to my “conjugate” suggestion above, you might want to play with a little more volume in your overall protocol — which you can get away with if you feather it in (as I do) within an overarching, conjugate methodology. Variety is the key to the prevention of overtraining — variety in exercise/movement pattern selection, rep speeds and loading. And one other sure-fire tip: if you can tolerate raw dairy, I’d suggest downing a good amount post-workout. Personally, I like to make a 50-50 mix of raw, whole milk and cream — about 12 oz total — and down this after my workout and about an hour or so before I have a “real” meal. I wait as long as I can post workout to ingest anything, though (so as to maximize the post-workout hormonal cascade), but many times life’s practicalities intervene; still gotta live under real-world constraints, so I don’t beat myself up with timing issues — just strive to do the best you can under the circumstances you’re dealt.
Feel free to hit me up with any follow-on questions. And by all means come on down to Austin (the epicenter of Physical Culture!) if you get a chance. I do deal with clients that I only see once per month or so; do give that option some thought.
I’m 47 yrs old and trying to get a feel for the direction I want to go relating to exercise. On the diet front, I’m completely sold on Paleo (at least 90% of the time). It makes sense logically, scientifically and there is general consensus among the “experts” (at least the ones I consider). So, I’ve been looking at Body By Science or at least HIT related approach, Starting Strength and Crossfit. There are some strong opinions out there and I’m hoping with all your real world experience and you analytical edge you can help me weigh it out.
I appreciate any insight. My wife also appreciates it, since I have promised her I will try like hell to get to look like the guy she married 17 yrs ago.
Thanks and keep up the great work!!
Art, so much of your final direction here will depend upon what you have readily available. All of these are fine systems, and all can be manipulated in a conjugate-like fashion. The path toward optimized Physical Culture has much in common with the path toward realized spirituality, in that the “system” is not nearly so as important as is the desire, intensity and ultimate follow-through with the chosen “system”. As the Dalai Lama says in regards to the “correct spiritual path/religion”: all lead to the same end; pick a spiritual pony and ride. My advice is to look at what you have ready access to and go, fully invested, in that direction. The reality is that once the initial newness wears off, the last thing you want is a ready-made excuse for not continuing on down the path. Is the nearest, most accessible place a CrossFit affiliate, an old-school black-iron gym (you should be so lucky!!), or…well, let’s just hope the closest outfit to you isn’t a Curves… 🙂
Dan John waxes poetic on the Metabolic (or T-Bar) Swing in this recent T-Nation article. I love the swing, and think of them as “indoor sprints”, as each provide for the same metabolic punch and posterior-chain hit. Swings are a winter/bad weather staple for me. Low-tech, for sure — but damn effective. Even better: T-Bar swings to a blaring AC/DC mix 🙂
…which leads nicely into the week’s workouts, of which I only have one “documentable” effort to relay. Throughout the week I hit many, uber-high-intensity “mini” sessions, none of which I documented, however. Lots of T-bars swings, weighted dips, pull-ups, lunges, you name it. Here, though, is one that I did document:
(A1) dynamic trap bar deadlift (grey bands): 265 x 3; 315 x 7 sets of 3
(A2) front press: 135 x 8; 155 x 6, 6, 5, 5, 5, 5, 4
And finally, what do three Physical Culture geeks do when they get together — that is, besides thrash one another in the weight room? Well, they talk about Physical Culture (and weight room thrashings!) of course! To whit, checkout episode one of our new Efficient Exercise venture, EETV. Mark, Skyler and I had a lot of fun with this, and I’m sure we’ll make it a staple (though progressively more refined) offering. And yeah, this wasn’t a stretch; we really do talk like this normally. What was our pre-shoot prep? 5 minutes (if that) of kicking around possible topics. This is off-the-cuff and off the top of the head, folks; Physical Culture performance art, at it’s best 🙂
“Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable.”
Physical Culture as an Entrepreneurship? Yes, you bet. Entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be all about making money, though that is the commonly accepted meaning of the term. I rather like to think of it as guiding an emerging idea into being, irrespective of profit margin. Check out this take on the Entrepreneurial mindset.
And take a look at the list of presenters scheduled for this summer’s Ancestral Health Symposium in Los Angeles; that, my friends, is a distinguished who’s who of Physical Culture’s current entrepreneurial luminaries. And of the event’s masterminds, Brent Pottenger, and Aaron Blaisdale? Think of them as the Bill Gates’ of the Ancestral Health movement; entrepreneurs extraordinaire.
No dogma, only results. One of the best training articles I’ve read recently comes from the crowd over at Elite Fitness. Titled Methods of Muscle (by Rick Danison), this article discusses the positive benefits of the integration of various tools and methods. Listen, folks, there are no bad tools, and there are no bad methods — poorly thought-out combinations of these, to be sure — but the underlying tools and methods in and of themselves simply “are”. Would anyone think to tell a chef that basil is “bad”, or that braising is a deficient method, without first qualifying that statement? Yet we do, in essence, the very same thing in the S&C community when we dogmatize (is that a word?? Well, it is now…) any one training method/modality at the expense of another.
Again, I had another week stock-full of extreme high-intensity “mini” workouts, utilizing a full spectrum of methods and modalities. I seem to thrive on this type of workout scheme — but is it necessarily an Evolutionary/Ancestral Fitness approach? Well, maybe. Just as there was a wide range in the macronutrient content of various HG populations (based, in most part, on their relative proximity to the equator), so too, I believe, there must have been wide variance in HG energy expenditure profiles; amplitude and frequency of intensity bursts must have varied wildly. The mainstream currently has a puppy-love thing going on with the “human as an endurance athlete” template. And, indeed, many exhibit this phenotype today in a very natural and healthy way. More power to ’em. These mainstream “endurance apologists”, though, seem to ignore the vast array of purely power-leaning phenotypical examples on display all around them. Have they never observed the sprint/throws portion of the Olympic games? Gymnastics? Rugby or American football? Certain human genetic lines were obviously wired for power expression as well, but for some reason we’re lead to believe that we modern humans all stem from a persistence-hunting only “Adam and Eve”. Now maybe I don’t have current science on my side, but I do believe it is a serious mistake to use “current science” to blinker one’s self against simple observation.
Chris Johnson as a persistence hunter?? Yeah, Okay…
Ideally, science and observation/accumulated wisdom should work in unison; too many times, though, these camps are at odds. A mighty fine edge can be put on the blade of accumulated wisdom by using current and applicable science as a sharpening stone (Tabata-like protocols, anyone?). But science — or more precisely, those who argue from a scientific point of view, and to the exclusion of “accumulated wisdom” — would do well to acknowledge that science, at least in the realm of Physical Culture (and exercise science in particular), hits up against some serious, serious limitations. For example, the single-set-to-failure crowd would have me to believe that the Bill Pearl types of this world are…an aberration? Or that Bill Pearl would have been the same “Bill Pearl” if he’d trained under the one-set-to-failure tenants. Becoming mired in a premise while ignoring real-world results is no place to be, and this argument simply does not hold-up to my 30+ years of observation; that I have no published “science” to back my claim does not (and should not) blind me to my observations and accumulated wisdom. Of course it does make me question, and relentlessly so, the “whys” and “hows” — but it certainly does not make me deny “what is”. The Zen masters put it this way: do not plunder the Mystery with concepts. That something works by way of some scientifically-yet-to-be-determined mechanism does not obviate the fact that it does, in fact, work. The best that science can do at that point is to “hone the blade”. No doubt a welcome and anticipated service, but no reason for me not to employ the particular tool in question now. We’ve gone from the strop and straight blade to the quad-blade razor cartridge, and at no point has the ol’ straight blade in an experienced hand been made obsolete. Something tells me the ol’ repetition method, properly applied, is here to stay.
Let’s look at some workouts –
Sunday, 2/6/11 –
The six-minute-and-15-second leg dust-up:
Mark Alexander, president of Efficient Exercise, called this the 19th, 20th, and 21st-century workout. And it truly was, as I utilized CZT technology, Nautilus know-how, and plain ol’ low-tech, grunt-it-out, farmers walks. Brief, brutal and basic? Hell yeah. And we’re beginning to phase-in a few of our Project Transformation participants to this type of more integrated approach as well. This is the beauty of n=1 integration; finding the right mix for each individual, letting the story reveal itself as each participant travels down his own Physical Culture path. For some, a CZT-based workout is all they’ll ever need and indeed, want — for others, the CZT is just another (though fantastic!) tool in the Physical Culture toolbox.
Monday, 2/7/11 –
Dynamic trap bar deadlifts – (red and purple bands): 335 x 3 x 10 sets; 15-secs between “sets”
Tuesday, 2/8/11 –
Bodyweight dips: 200 total, in every conceivable rep scheme you can imagine. The only constant here was the drive to spend as little time on the ground as possible between “sets”.
Thursday, 2/10/11 –
Max Effort bent-over row (Oly bar): 135 x 7; 225 x 6; 275 x 3; 295 x 3; 315 x 2; 325 x 2; 335 x 2; 345 x 1; 355 x 1; 360 x 1; 365 x 1
Followed, approximately 4 hours later by –
(A1) straight bar bicep curl: 95 x 12
(A2) EZ bar triceps extension: 105 x 12
four rounds, very little rest between sets.
Friday, 2/11/11 –
(A1) power cleans: 165 x 5; 190 x 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2 (emphasis speed, crisp form)
(A2) blast strap planks & pikes: 15 each round
(A1) cable “lean-in” bicep curls: 155 x 12, 7; 170 x 4+ (hierarchical)
(B1) cable incline flye: 155 x 13; 170 x 7; 175 x 3+ (hierarchical)