Physical Culture as an Entrepreneurship?

“Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable.”

– Voltaire

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.

You can check-out a great interview with Brent and Aaron about the Symposium on the Whole9 blog.

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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

Saturday, 2/12/11

(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)

(B2) CZT-Vertical chest press: 5 hyper-reps

In health,

Keith

Amalgamation; The Workout as a Non-Dogmatic Experience

“In this age of specialization men who thoroughly know one field are often incompetent to discuss another. The great problems of the relations between one and another aspect of human activity have for this reason been discussed less and less in public…”

Richard Feynman

Specialization, though extremely important, inevitably leads, however (unless the specialist remains ever vigilant), to blinkered thought patterns.  We need erudite generalists to connect the dots, to see the inherent co-relations between what look to be, at ground level, completely disparate entities.  Only from the generalist’s 30-thousand foot view can the Venn-like associations be found. Check out the following, from big think: A Universal Cure for Cancer?

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Amalgamate:

  1. To merge, to combine, to blend, to join.
  2. To make an alloy of a metal and mercury.

I’ve touched on the subject of the problems inherent to the dogmatic approach to Physical Culture many times in the past (most recently, here), but the sentiment bears repeating: no single method, protocol, or modality works for everyone, and no one can continue to make progress continually using the same method, protocol or modality.  Be prepared, my friend, for what has worked brilliantly over the last 6 weeks is, even as this is written, readying to dump your sorry ass without so much as a hastily jotted “Dear John”, or a dry kiss goodbye.  Once the body accommodates to a specific stressor — and it most assuredly will (and with some much faster than with others) — progress will abruptly cease.  This, of course, is the basis which underpins the Conjugate Method — a method many folks mistakenly assume is a powerlifting-only phenomena; wrong answer, my friend.  Yes, Louie Simmons has manipulated this idea and applied it specifically to the field of powerlifting, but the basic underpinnings can be tweaked so as to apply toward any training specificity, or to no specificity at all.  Case in point: I am a fitness generalist who employs the Conjugate Method; now, if I ever decided to specialize in any single event, or train toward a specific sporting goal, I’d simply tweak the parameters (specific exercises, modalities, etc.) of the Conjugate Method to better support those goals.  As Louie Simmons says, There are countless sports and sport-specific pursuits (including, I would add, sporting generalism)  but only three methods of strength training: absolute strength building, hypertrophy work (via the repetition method), and speed-strength training.  And remember this: sport specific technique training is an entirely different animal — even if your sport of choice happens to be Oly or powerlifting itself.

Still a bit fuzzy on what exactly the Conjugate Method is?  Below is an excerpt from a Dave Tate-written, IB Area 51 piece, Debunking the Myths, in which Dave gives a very truncated summary of the Conjugate Method as practiced by the athletes at Westside Barbell:

…The methods we use are explained in many books on training including “Super training” (Siff and Verkhoshansky), “Science and Practice of Strength Training” (Zatsiorsky) and many other textbooks and manuals from the former soviet union. The problem in the country is that people are reading the wrong information. For review, the major methods we use are:

1. The Maximal Effort Method: This method is defined as lifting maximal and supra maximal weights for one to three reps and is considered superior for the increase in both intramuscularly and intermuscular coordination. This is because the central nervous system will only adapt to the load placed upon them. It has also been proven that weights over 90% elicit the greatest gain in strength but will quickly lead to over training state within one to three weeks with the same movement. The is because of the great demand placed on the neuromuscular system with this type of training.

We devote two day of the week for this type of training. One for the Squat and one for the bench press. This schedual is followed all year long. The reason we do not have problems with overtraining with 90% plus weights is because the movement is switched every one to three weeks. The movements we choice are called “special exercises” and are designed for maximum strengh output both the squat and dead lift.

2. The Repetition Method: This method can be defined as lifting a non-maximal weight to failure; it is during this fatigue state when the muscles develop the maximal possible force. Because of this it is only the final lifts that are important because of the fatigue state. This type of training has a greater influence on muscle metabolism and hypertrophy when compare to the other methods.

We use this method in a conjugant “coupling fashion” intermixed in with the other training days. Any supplemental or accessory movement using this method must be changed after three to six workouts using the exercise. This is to avoid the over training state as described above.

3. The Dynamic Effort Method: This method of training involves lifting non maximal weight with the greatest possible speed. This method of training is not used for the development of maximal strength but only to improve the rate of force development and explosive strength. Angel Sassov during his trip to the USA mentioned weights 50 to 70% are best for developing explosive power.

We devote two days a week to this type of training for the bench press and one for the box squat.

All these methods are coupled together “conjugated periodisation” This type of periodisation is different then the western method that is very over practiced in the United States today. As many of you remember the western method consists of a Hypertrophy Phase, Basic Strength Phase. Power Phase, Peak Phase and a Transitional Phase. These phases are all independent of each other meaning that you first complete the Hypertrophy Phase then move on to the Strength Phase and so on. This is the type of periodiastion we do not practice or believe in. We have found it better to maintain all the strength abilities throughout the year. This again is accomplished by the conjugated periodisation method. The other type of periodisation we pratice is cybernetic periodisation. This simply means you have to listen to your body and make adjustment when needed. With the western method if you are programmed to lift 90% for 2 sets of 3 and have a bad day or do not feel well ten you are screwed with no alternative but to miss the workout and try to catch back up the next week or to try the weight and hope for the best. With our style of training on the dynamic method days, bar speed or concentric tempo is what determines the load. If the bar slow down then you reduce the weight. We do use percents as a guide on this day, but he bar speed still is the determining factor. On the max effort days a bad day will only equate to a lower max effort. This really does not matter because it is the straining with maximal loads we are looking for not the actual weight lifted.

 

Now personally, I like to use Autoregulation in conjunction with cybernetic periodization, but that’s really getting down to the splitting of proverbial hairs.

So yes, I utilize all manner of machine, free-weight and bodyweight exercises.  I run sprints and bike sprint as well.  I train at times like a powerlifter, and other times like a track and field thrower and/or sprinter — and yeah, sometimes I even train like a damn (God forbid!!!) bodybuilder (but much to Meesus TTP’s relief, sans the 80s clown pants).   One thing I do not do, however, is combine exercises in a session as if “pulled from a hopper”.  CrossFit does plenty of great things for sure, and is, in my mind, a fantastic overall concept — save for the programming side of things.  Should a well rounded athlete be able to perform well at a series of exercises pulled at random from said hopper?  Most definitely, yes, I think.  That an athlete should train in such a fashion, though, in my mind is just, well…wrong minded.  There is a huge difference between training for an event and training with an event; couple the overall CrossFit concept with smart programming and now you’ve got a winner.

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And now, on to the workout front…-

Monday, 1/31/11; as brief, brutal and basic as it gets:

Trap bar RDLs: 265 x 10; 355 x 7; 405 x 6; 455 x 4, 3, 3, 3

Lift something very heavy off of the ground — quickly; set it back down under control.  Wash, rinse, repeat…

So, can one get a bad-ass workout in 15 minute’s time?  You bet.  Would I do this all of the time?  Nope; but then again, I don’t follow any protocol or modality “all the time”.  Workouts are indeed like cuisine (see above); variety, within certain limitations (limited to Paleo choices, say) are key.  The anatomy of a 15-minute, quick-HITter workout can be seen in these following four examples:

Tuesday, 2/1/11

(A1) T-bar swings: 125 x 25, 25, 25, 25

(A2) weighted dips: 90 x 5, 5, 5, 5

Wednesday, 2/2/11

(A1) Nautilus pec dec: 95 x 10, 10

(A2) Nautilus rear delt: 95 x 10, 10

*both at a 3010 tempo

(B1) Xccentric flat press: (+50): 5 rest-pause reps w/8-count negatives each rep

(C1) Nautilus pull-over: 255 x 10, 2, 2, 1 (one extended cluster set, 40×0 tempo)

(C2) reverse-grip pull-ups: BW x 5, 3, 3 (one extended cluster set, 40×0 tempo)

Thursday, 2/3/11

Dynamic box squats (high box, thighs parallel): 185 x 7 sets of 3  ~ Speed!

2-hour break, then 225 x 7 sets of 3 ~ again, speed, speed, SPEED!

Straight bar bicep curl: 95 x 12, 105 x 6, 115 x 5, 120 x 4 ~ performed as clustered sets, 15-seconds rest between “sets”.

Friday, 2/4/11

clean (from the floor): 135 x 10; 165 x 5, 185 x 5, then 185 x 8 sets of 2, with the 8 x 2 done as a cluster set; approx 30 seconds rest between “sets”.

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So, what do Efficient Exercise trainers do when they’re just sittin’ around between clients, chillin’ out, recovering from one of those 15-minute “quick-HITter” workouts detailed above?  See the link below.  Yeah, we’re sick like this  🙂

http://skylertanner.com/2011/02/01/efficient-exercise-the-super-dynamic-hip-bridge/

Seriously though, this is one bad-ass, dynamic hamstring hit.

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Discipline?  Really?  Meh, let’s call it love.  The positive physiological effects of reframing your reference.  Yeah, “love of” is most definitely a more effective way to approach any aspect of Physical Culture than is “discipline”.  Discipline might get you through the day, my friend, but love will carry you though a lifetime.

http://chall-train-smart.blogspot.com/2011/02/myth-behind-discipline-why-it-doesnt.html

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An lastly, I would love to see an analysis here of the elite sprinter’s heel bone, especially in relation to that of the distance runners’.  The problem with much of this research is that all manner of “running”, much like “resistance training”, is lumped together under one, catch-all phrase.  This, of course, is utterly absurd in the same way that classifying all of art under a single umbrella is patently useless.   Help!  Is there a generalist in the house? 😉

An interesting story, though, nonetheless:

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/02/neanderthals-humans-running

In health,

Keith

Bad Science, Shrinking Brains, and Open (Yet Questioning) Minds

“The idea is to try to give all the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another”

Richard Feynman

So when we put all of our eggs in one basket — say, judging a particular question solely by the outcome of the published “science” related to that question, rather than approaching the question from multiple disciplines (intuition, common sense, empirical evidence, etc.) — we severely limit the possibility of finding the essential truth of the matter.  For example, “established science” held firm — and is yet holding firm —  to the notion that weight management is simply an extension of the 2nd law of thermodynamics, namely the “calories-in/calories-out” idea.  Those of us who allow ourselves to think without restraint now realize how ridiculously flawed this reductionist thinking is.  In fact, to the extent that I did, at one time, believe this to be true is…shocking to me.

We currently have battles raging withing the Physical Culture arena — gladiator “absolutists”, if you will — representing various training methods as being the end-all, be-all.  Is it really as easy as finding the lone “correct” answer?  Well, I say that all we need do is take a good look around to see how ridiculous this notion is.  For every Dorian Yates, I can offer a Bill Pearl; for every Mentzer, a Gironda.  The list goes on and on; for every fabulous athlete employing a certain training method, we can find examples of similarly proficient athletes doing something entirely different.  All methods work for some, no method works for all, and the method that currently works wonders for an individual likely won’t produce results in that same individual 6 months from now.  Some see training as purely science, I see it as more analogous to the culinary arts; replete with scientific underpinnings to be sure, but the creation of a great meal is a hell of a lot more complex than the simple co-mingling of those simple, disparate, underpinnings.  Just call me the Alton Brown, then, of Physical Culture.

A slight diversion: now I’m no linguist by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s my understanding that there is no single Sanskrit word for “truth”, but rather a number of words that hint at the truth of  an idea as colored by the strengths and limitations of the approach.  In other words, ideas can have “truths” revealed in a philosophical/emotional sense, a spiritual sense, and, yes, a scientific sense.  We in the west tend to put a premium on the scientific “truth” behind and idea at the exclusion of all else.  This, of course, leads to a dead-end trap of stagnant thought.  Again, quoting Richard Feynman: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” Good words to live by, from a brilliant man.

And so with that “question authority” mindset nicely stoked, let’s reconsider, for example, the vaccine-autism link that was all the rage not so long ago.  Again, my point here is not to imply that all science is shoddy — far from it — my point is simply to maintain a questioning attitude even in the face of supposed scientific “proof”.

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The notion of a continual decline in humanoid brain volume over the past 20 kyrs or so is not exactly earth-shattering news to those of us who make it a habit to keep up with the musings Art DeVany or John Hawks; it is interesting, though, to reconsider this phenomenon through a more conventional lens.  Was the advent of the agricultural revolution a cause, correlate, or just a simple coincidence to the onset of this pattern?  For me, the evidence clearly indicates causation; always the epistemocrat, though, I remain open-minded to alternative theories.

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Much thanks to Robb Wolf (and his merry band of pseudo-science co-conspirators) for creation of the all-things-Paleo Forum, which will be a great resource for everyone dedicated to this Paleo/Primal/EvFit/Ancestral Fit journey.  We at Efficient Exercise intend to use this valuable resource as another educational tool (along with the Paleo Solution Quick Start Guide)  for those involved in our 10-week Project Transformation: the Efficient Exercise Solution.  And needless to say, we always recommend The Paleo Solution as the definitive go-to source for clients interested in pursuing the Paleo way.   Between Robb’s wesite, forum, podcasts, blog and book, anyone who has a mind to can accumulate a PhD-level education in the Paleo way from this single, convenient, root source.  Thanks again, guys, for all the free, selflessly-given, information.  Stunningly generous.

By the way, if you’d like to check-in on the happenings with Project Transformation, be sure to “friend us up” over at our Facebook page.  We’ll be kicking the program off on January 18th, with a wide-ranging demographic of “subjects”.

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My workouts this past week were all of the organic, non-documented type save for yesterday’s (1/8/11) heavy T-bar swing and weighted dip combo.  Ahhhhh, T-bar swings; Tim Ferriss would be proud 🙂

T-bar swings: 100 lbs x 20, 20, 20, 20, 20

weighted dips: bw+90 lbs x 6, 6, 6, 6, 4

Kept the rest between exercises and between rounds to a minimum here.  Just out of curiosity, I checked my pulse immediately following the 2nd round of swings — 165 bpm.  Pushing fairly hard, but certainly not a red-liner by any means.

An all-day squat-fest:

Okay, so here’s an example of an impromptu, situationally-driven “workout”: on Thursday (1/6/11), it occurred to me that I hadn’t performed a bread-and-butter, bilateral back squat in quite some time, as usually, if I’m going to squat at all, I’ll opt for a unilateral version — a RFESS, say — or maybe a front squat.   Anyway, I also saw in the day’s hand the (sweet!) opportunity to get quite a bit of short-burst fixie-huckin in.  What better to mix with that quick-burst leg burn than some good old back squats?  Yeah, I thought so, too — so I repeated this basic set-up time and again throughout the day.  And hey — shouldn’t I get credit as well, for all the plate loading and unloading?

(A1) full ATG squats: 135 x 12, 225 x 6

(A2) thighs parallel to the ground: 315 x 4, 4, 3, 3

(A3) quarter squats to full ankle extension (explosive): 405 x 8, 8, 8

(A4) fixie sprint

This is just an example of one round.  Sometimes I did much less volume between rides (diving right into the quarter squats, for example), and other times I just bounced around with the ATG stuff.  The point is, I did whatever the hell I felt like doing with no “need” to hit a pre-determined number of sets or reps at a calculated load.  The lone constant here was intensity — when I went at it, I friggin’ went at it.  At times there was a full 3 hours between rounds, and other times maybe a half-hour.  Again, no rhyme or reason.   So was this “play”, “physical activity”, a “workout”…or what exactly?  I definitely pushed myself, especially in the later rounds — and I certainly felt the results the next day (soreness, off-the-charts hunger, etc.) — but how would something like this be classified?  More to the point (and from my body’s prospective) does it even need to be classifiable to be productive?  Well, of course not.  The only problem with this scenario, from a “guru”prospective, is that I can’t sell you a cookie-cutter programming guide for this — you’ve got to figure it out for yourself mt friend, n=1 fashion.  Not much of a business model, I know — but hey, what the hell do you expect from a guy who dropped (like a fracking rock, no less!) his only business-related college class (accounting…ugh) after 3 sessions due to total and utter (drooling!) disinterest? 🙂  I mean, why waste time with that nonsense, especially when I had a whole Howard Zinn-inspired Poli Sci department full of courses to choose from?  🙂

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And last, but certainly not least — introducing the newest arrow to my quiver:

That makes 3 bikes now — and I still have but one ass  (as Meesus TTP has deftly pointed out)   🙂  All you cycling aficionados out there understand, though — I’m sure of it! …right??  🙂

In health,

Keith

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Intensity: the Real Key to Strength and Conditioning Success

“Basic, brutal, and brief…”

And if I may, to that I’d add intermittent to that as well.  Ok, so I’ve racked my brain and consulted my thesaurus to no avail — anyone know a synonym for “intermittent” that starts with a “b”?

Anyway, the “basic, brutal and brief” statement is just a snippet of the wisdom that long-time Strength & Conditioning coach Mark Asanovich delivers during this recent interview with Dave Durrell, of High Intensity Nation.  Another bit of in-the-trenches wisdom that Mark disseminates is that we as trainers and trainees should remember, first and foremost,  this: that all training boils down to “…physiology, physics and motor learning…”; and to that, I would add “psychology” or, more specifically, the ability to bring intensity to the training protocol.  Because, let’s face it: there’s not a training program that can ever be written that will produce results without the trainee bringing intensity to the table and, conversely, even the most mismatched trainee/protocol combo will work — at least for a while — if the intensity applied to that protocol is of top-notch quality.

Want results?  You gotta lay it on the line, brother — each and every workout.  Now, match super intensity with smart programming and, well…you’ve got the makings of the perfect Physical Culture one-two punch.

…and add a well-adhered-to Paleo diet to the mix, and we’ve got ourselves a perfect combination  🙂

The Litvinov Workout: Two Thumbs Up, or Dumb as Dirt?

Life coach extraordinaire Dan John loves the “Litvinov workout” (as do I).  Charles Poliquin, though, apparently thinks the whole Litvinov idea is ludicrous.  Two at-the-top-of-their-game, highly respected strength and conditioning coaches (and toss one crazy Physical Culturalist into the mix for shits-and-giggles) , two polar-opposite points of view on Litvinov-like protocols.  So damn, who to believe?

Andy Deas recently posted a fine article (But Mike Boyle Said the Squat was Dead?), in which he addresses the issue of unwavering acceptance of delivered-from-on-high, “guru” proclamations.  What we need to consider in this particular instance of John (and TTP) vs Poliquin, folks, is context.

Consider the diverse client base of each of these fine coaches.  Poliquin works mainly with Olympic level athletes — think bobsledders, skiers and the like — as opposed to Dan John, who works primarilly with the high school athlete, the Highland Games crowd; CrossFit enthusiasts.  Two very different trainee bases, two very different sets of overall needs, goals, skill-sets, metabolic conditioning requirements and, well, you get the picture.  And, not surprisingly, two drastically different takes on the same exercise protocol.

Again, this points to my assertion that programming has to be an n=1 affair; at the very least (and, as in the case with S&C coaches who must work in a group setting) programming has to match the n=1 requirements of the particular sport.  Dan John deals with athletes who face a very high degree of unknowns/variables in their sport; in comparison, Poliquin’s athletes face much less in the way of the unknown/variable factor.  Think of the demands placed on a football player, versus those placed, for example, on a bobsledder, and you can easily see why each coach feels the way he does (and passionately so!) about the Litvinov workout.

Bottom line?  If a Litvinov-like workout suits your athletic needs or fitness goals, then by all means utilize it.  At its essence, the Litvinov is simply a hardcore bout of GPP (general physical preparedness), no more, no less.  There is no particular magic with a front squat/400 meter pairing (other than the fact that it’s brutal!); I’ve paired tire flips and sprints for an effective, challenging, and downright fun-as-hell workout.  And make no mistake about it, I still hold Charles Poliquin’s opinion with the highest degree of respect.  In this particular instance, though, I have to respectfully disagree with Charles’ across-the-board disapproval of “the Litvinov”.

As an example of the n=1 approach to programming, consider how S&C coach Joe DeFranco utilizes a Litvinov-like approach (focusing primarily on the alactic anaerobic energy system) in the training of Houston Texans linebacker, Brian Cushing, here.  I’m curious as to what Charles would have to say about this particular method of training; seems pretty spot-on to me.

Delivering and receiving information via electronic formats such as blogs, bulletin boards and the like is fantastic for the immediate spread of information — the drawback, of course, is that the medium discourages the full development of well-rounded ideas; pros and cons of an idea or stance cannot be fully parsed-out.  It’s up to the reader, then, to do that parsing himself, to ask the critical “but…” and “what if…” questions.  Neglect the very important step of asking “in what context is this statement being made?” at your own peril.

Now I’m quite sure that Charles would disapprove of the following workout as well, but it suits my needs just fine; not only that, but it is concise and, well, quite a bit of fun.  A little Friday afternoon frolic to kick-off this past weekend:

power snatch: 115 x 5; 135 x 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3

in a super-set with

ab wheel roll-outs (on toes, slight knee touch at full extension): bw x 8 for each of 7 rounds

Then on to a superset of the following –

btn push-press: 165 x 7; 185 x 6; 195 x 4

semi-supinated pull-ups: bw+45 lbs x 6, 6, 6

Moving Daze, and X-Ccentric Equipment

So, just how does one prepare for the rigors of moving day (actually moving days…or even more appropriately, daze)?  Well, if you’re an idgit like me, you do so by cranking-out a couple of tough-ass workouts in the days prior, just to be sure that you’re good & well zorched even before lifting that first dastardly-heavy armoire.  What the hell was I thinking?  Well, to put it simply, I wasn’t.  Even as Meesus TTP and I sat through the signing process at Alamo Title Company, two thoughts ran through my mind.  One was that I actually did have a positive net worth there for a while, during that short time I was out from under my last mortgage; the other was that, yes — quite possibly, ripping-off 12 sets of power snatches was no way to prepare for the following couple of day’s worth of toting around the assorted heavy and cumbersome accumulations of 45 years of wanton consumerism.  My grandfather’s advice to me when I was a young lad (but already knew everything there was to know) — and which I promptly dismissed as the babblings of a madman — was to never own more than you could carry across the river; I’m sure his soul had a good laugh at my expense this weekend.

Wednesday’s session; Mike Mentzer HIT, anyone  🙂  I pulled-off this doozie at the Efficient Exercise downtown location:

Tru squat: (weight – 100, counter weight – 115, wide stance, 3rd pin, 4040 tempo*) 12, approx. 15 secs. rest, 10 – then immediately to:

Super-slow leg curl: 150 lbs x 10, approx. 15 secs. rest, 10 –  4040 tempo

Nautilus Pec Dec: 110 x 7 ( 4040 tempo), then immediately to:

Nautilus chest press/crunch: 150 x 12 ( 4040 tempo)

Nautilus pull-over: 200 x 10 (4020 tempo), then immediately to:

Strict reverse grip pull-ups: bodyweight x 6, 15 secs pause, 4 (5010 tempo)

Nautilus shoulder lateral raise: 160 x 10 (2040 tempo), then immediately to:

*X-Ccentric upright press: (no counter weight, no added weight) x 7 (4020 tempo)

Friday’s between-client power snatch session, Efficient Exercise Rosedale location:

And by the way, this one might not rank very high on the creative scale, but damn if it doesn’t reek of effective work!

power snatch: 115 x 7, 7; 135 x 7 sets of 3.  45-minute break, then: 135 x 5 sets of 3

X-Ccentric Equipment

*This is some of the the coolest, most inventive pieces of equipment (next to its kissing-cousin, the CZT line of equipment) that I’ve run across in all of my years in the iron game.  Part free-weight, part machine — a true hybrid piece of weight training equipment.   With the added bonus being that it looks downright medieval 🙂

The cool thing about this equipment — aside from fantastic leverages, biomechanical suitability and a fabulous strength-curve matching  — is the ability for the trainer to apply precise amounts of positive and/or negative assistance to the trainee.  Check-out the following couple of clips to get a feel for what I mean:

As you can see, there is no limit to to the way this piece of equipment can be utilized.

As is with the CZT, the X-Ccentric line of equipment is a fantastic addition to the weightroom arsenal.

The Anabolic Continuum, “Confounding Variables”, and Physical Culture as Art

The idea that strength and conditioning programming — and, in fact, any pursuit related to the optimal expression of one’s phenotype — is a purely unique-to-the-trainee, n=1 experiment is the underlying theory behind my own day-to-day practice of Physical Culture.  In fact, the TTP blog itself is an on-going ode to the notion that training is more art than science; or, another way of looking at it is that training is one of the main Physical Culture “arts”, and science is but a single color on the pallet used in the creation of that art.

Enter John Barban, Brad Pilon, and the “Phi Life” experience –

If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and add the Phi Life podcast to your bookmark listing; I don’t think you’re likely to find a more truthful, intellectually-based series of discussions on all things related to the intersection of science and Physical Culture.  Plain and simple: these guys know their stuff, and they articulate it well.

Now, why am I so adamant in my (repeated) assertions that training must be an n=1 endeavor?  That it cannot be otherwise?  That training is more so art than science?  Well, check-out the following pair of Phi Life shows, as Brad and John deliver the goods on exactly why this is so.

I am certainly not anti-science, but the problem, at this stage of the game anyway, is that the science of sports physiology (writ large) is only in its infancy.  It’s as if we’ve only just recently identified the pieces of the puzzle, but have no “box top” to reference so as to even begin to figure how the pieces fit.  And on top of that, we continually find new pieces added to the pile.

The following two shows fit nicely together, and each runs approximately a half-hour.  I’ve taken the liberty of lifting the show explanations from the Phi Life site itself, and I hope that Brad and John are cool with that.

Hypertrophy happens; strength happens.  Athletes become faster and more powerful.  Fat is shed; anaerobic and aerobic conditioning improves by leaps and bounds.   From years of experience, we have a pretty good idea of what strings need to be pulled, how often and when, to elicit certain responses.  We have gut notions of why a certain technique, protocol, scheme, etc. will work on one guy, but will fail if used with the guy standing right next to him.  But really, we don’t have a firm grasp of what’s going on inside the “black box”, and those hints that science has eeked out for us really don’t tell us much more than what we already knew – that X protocol will work sometimes, and with certain populations, and that even if it does work, the efficacy won’t last for long.  It’s a moving target, and the gun is poorly sighted.  Do we really know much more now about sports physiology than the East Germans knew in the early ‘80s?  If in fact we do, it can’t be by much.

Check out the shows:

The Anabolic Continuum

Research on muscle building report a wide range of responders. There are those who gain virtually no muscle or strength, and there are those who have very impressive gains. If the weight training program was the same then the people doing the training must be different.

The response you will get from a weight training program is dependent upon your anabolic sensitivity. A number of factors go into assessing your anabolic sensitivity including age, training status, type of training, genetic predisposition, somatotype.

All of these factors collectively come together as a way of explaining where you land on the Anabolic Continuum.

In today’s lesson we’ll discuss what a confounding variable is, and explain that one of the biggest confounding variables in muscle building research is the anabolic sensitivity of each subject. Until researchers start categorizing where their subjects are on the Anabolic Continuum they will continue to have inconclusive results.

Anabolic Slowdown

The effectiveness of your weight training workouts might be dependent upon where you are in the anabolic continuum. This may be why different people get different results on the same workout program.

Where you are in the anabolic continuum may also be you best indicator of which exercise program to choose.

In today’s podcast we’ll discuss the concept of Anabolic Slow Down and Anabolic Resistance, and your “Training Age” vs your “Biological Age”.

We believe this is the biggest confounding variable in resistance training research and the reason why results are not consistent.

Two fabulous shows, and a hell of an education in exchange for an hour’s worth of your time.

The workout rundown for Friday, Saturday and Sunday –

Friday evening

As my days in NC are becoming numbered, my workouts are having to become ever more pin-pointed; quite simply, time is a big issue right now.  Buying a new home, readying for a cross-country move, wrapping up projects with my former employer, saying good-bye to friends – and though my kids are adults and on their own, making their own lives and their own unique way in the world, it’s still tough to leave them behind.  All this adds up to additional stress as well.  I think I manage it well, but still…  So Autoregulation will be the overriding theme for my last few NC workouts prior to next weekend’s “mother of all road trips”.

I kicked tonight’s session off with some whip-snatch + overhead squats, 3 sets of 5 at 95 lbs.  Rapid-fire reps, about 15-secs between sets.  That got the blood pumping nicely, and I’ve found that it’s is a great cycling-to-weight-room transition movement.  Now I can dive right into the meat of the workout, a superset of deadlifts and weighted dips – and pray that I’ve got enough legs left at the end of it all to get me back home  🙂

deadlifts (conventional, over-under grip): 185 x 10; 285 x 6; 375 x 5; 375 x 4

weighted dips: 45 x 10; 75 x 6; 95 x 6; 95 x 7 (+ 3 additional rest-pause reps)

then one set of Hierarchical (hat tip to Art DeVany) barbell curls: 95 x 15, 105 x 4, 110 x 3.  The rest between “sets” was just long enough to slap on the additional weight and get rolling again.  It would be interesting to see what the TUL was here.  I pushed the first two “sets” right to the brink of failure (i.e., the last good, fully-completed rep), then pushed the last set to full-on negative failure – in other words, the last two concentric reps were “cheat” reps, coupled with exaggerated (6-second) negatives.  The addition of bands or chains here would provide a better strength curve – I’ll keep this in mind for future set-ups.

Saturday –

I don’t know exactly what it is, but there’s just something brutally effective about a hard lift set, followed immediately by a sprint.  We did versions of this theme back in my college days, but Dan John is the only person I know who has actually written anything about what he calls (and what I’ve now come to call), the Litvinov workout.  Here’s what I did Saturday:

– 20 fast-as-possible (yet with good form) front squats with an 11’ by 4” diameter slosh pipe, then, immediately following that

– a 40 second sprint for distance…

…then, recover just long enough to get your lungs, spleen and pancreas back in their proper locations, and hit it again.  I did 4 of these on Saturday and they took all of about 15 minutes to complete.  Only 15 minutes?  Dude, that’s a warm-up!  WTF, didn’t you do anything else?  Yeah, right.  Give ‘em a shot, and get back to me on that point.

Sunday –

A pair of supersets on the menu today.  First up, a heavy pairing with the intent being to move the weight as fast as humanly possible on every rep.

behind-the-neck push-press: 115 x 3; 145 x 3; 175 x 3; 195 x 3; 205 x 1, 210 (missed lock-out); 205 x 1

weighted regular-grip pull-ups: 35 x 3; 50 x 3; 60 x 3; 70 x 3; 75 x 3; 85 x 2, 2

followed that up with an elevated feet push-ups and GHR superset; shifting gears into the repetition method this time, though:

elevated feet push-ups: bw x 45, 30, 15 (4, 2, 2, 2)

GHR: 20, 20, 10 (3, 3, 2, 2)

this was done in three sets, with rest-pause utilized in the last few reps of the last set.

The Continuing Question of “Failure”

HIT protocols – at least “HIT” in the purist sense of the definition – hinge on the concept of “training to complete muscular failure”.  Now, let me first preface all of this by saying that I am a huge HIT advocate, even if I am less so a champion of focusing on muscular “failure” to the exclusion of – or at least to the minimalization of – the consideration of other important training parameters/indicators.  Sacrilege, you say!  How can this be?  What manner of madness, and/or cognitive dissonance is this?  Well, the problem is, in my mind, the folly of attempting to nail-down that elusive point known as “muscular failure”.  And if we can’t precisely nail that point down, then we have to concede that that factor alone might not be an adequate standard in-and-of itself by which to measure inroad.  Hang with me, HIT aficionados, and let me explain myself.

Better yet, let’s allow Dan John to kick things off by (as is his specialty), waxing practical on the subject.  Here’s Dan, from his fabulous work, Never Let Go:

…for those of you who carry the flame of train-to-failure, how do you really determine failure?  I’ve been involved in an interesting challenge several times in my life, to squat bodyweight for reps.  Simply slap on bodyweight, do as many squats as you can, then put out a number.

I was thinking I was great at twenty reps until a buddy of mine did thirty.  At the next contest, I did fifty to win (ultimately, I did fifty-one with 225).  What was the difference between failure and failure?  Someone else doing more.

Even honest Abe has something to say about the subject at hand –

My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.
–Abraham Lincoln

Who knew my man Abe was an ahead-of-his-time, HIT man?

In all serious, though, “failure” is a rather nebulous thing.  And it has as much to do with psychology as it does physiology.   As a gross yardstick, though, I suppose it’s as good as any other; I would, however, treat the point of failure not so much as the “gold standard”, but as just another, of many, training indications to gauge one’s workout inroad and overall progress.  Hell, even load, distance and time (for instance), which are in fact “hard” measures, must be considered within the context of a greater overall picture.

Of course, the same can be said of “maximum efforts” and/or “personal bests”.  Under what circumstances are we speaking?  In the gym?  During a high-level competition?  As the result a no-shit, life or death situation?  It makes a huge difference, especially when we’re talking about workout programming based off of point of failure, TUL, or past “bests”.

Even “accurate” drop-off and Autoregulation numbers (which I tend to put a premium on) can only be tracked and utilized in a limited manner.  Ultimately, much still comes down to the even more nebulous (and admittedly Zen-like notions) of “feel”, and “listening to one’s body” – especially the more varied and diverse the cumulative stressors are, and the greater the trainee/client’s training age.

Now don’t get me wrong, the point of “muscular failure” is still a fine gauge to use with those of a relatively young training age, and if the subject has few other stressors to juggle.  I also think it’s a fine gauge to use on an endurance athlete who has (smartly!) decided to add appropriate strength training to his/her overall plan.  As Charles Stayley is fond of saying, “one needs strength with which to endure”.

My aim here is not to bash “muscular failure” as an indicator, but to simply caution trainees and trainers against becoming tunnel-visioned on this single parameter to the exclusion of others.  When it comes to training indicators, think like a quarterback – in any one particular play, the quarterback may have 2, 3…even up to 5 receiver options to choose from.  The best quarterbacks are skilled in the ability to scan the field (while avoiding the sack, keeping mindful of down, distance, time remaining, etc.) and choosing the best immediate receiving option.  Quarterbacks who focus in on a single receiver to the exclusion of other viable options are quickly picked apart by skilled defenses, and rarely rise beyond competing at the high school level.

Strive to become the Hall-of-Fame “quarterback” for your own physical fitness offense.

The Second Half of the Pre-Trip Workout Plan and, Some Excellent Travel Reading

So, in a supreme act of creative schedule juggling (*pats self on back*), I was actually able to push this workout out until Wednesday.  That’s a good thing on two counts, the first being that I would be better-off, following my last full-body beat-down, to take two days off free of intense weight training.  The second being off course that that I can push my recovery time out further into my travel period.

So, here we go with round 2 of the pre-travel, full-body, free-weight blitz (Compare to round 1, here) –

I started off with one of my favorite explosive movements: DB snatch (aka, the Cred) + single-arm DB split jerks:

65 x 3(3); 75 x 3(3); 85 x 3(3); 90 x 2(2), then 95 x 7 singles each arm (alternating arms).  Notation: Right arm (Left arm)

then the following superset:

front box squat (12” box): 135 x 3(3); 165 x 3(3); 185 x 2(2); 190 x 2(2)

parallel grip/reverse grip pull-up: 45 x 3(3); 70 x 3(3); 80 x 3(3), 3(3)

Compound sets again here; in other words, 3 reps, 5 – 10 second rest, then (3 more reps).  In the case of the pull-ups, I performed parallel grip pull-ups, 5 – 10 set rest, then (3 reverse grip reps).

Finished-up with a round of Nautilus 4-way neck: 55 lbs x 12, front, side, side; 65 lbs x 12, back.

That weight room bout pretty much totally zorched me, and oughta set me up for at least a chillaxin’ plane ride to Austin tonight.

And speaking of traveling: I ordered from Amazon and, just in time for my trip, received Doug McGuff and John Little’s The Body By Science Question and Answer Book.  I’m looking forward to really digging into this offering, as I appreciate and value Dr. McGuff’s intelligence and insight, especially in matters of diet and in those areas shaded by the “big, wide umbrella” of what I like to term “Physical Culture”.  Dr. McGuff and I are, for the most part, in agreement when it comes to exercise theory and prescription, and we’re totally in agreement with respect to what constitutes the optimum human diet.  I think where we have differences of opinion lay in how best to optimize the performance of the “upper outliers”, i.e., the natural athletes.  Disagreements are good, though, if the discussion is civil, and undertaken in the spirit, not of “winning the argument”, but of teasing-out the truth.  I think Doug would agree with me that our discussions have always been framed in this light.  Basically, the question boils down to:

Does the athlete make the exercise, or does the exercise make the athlete?

In a closely related vein – and in case you happen to have missed it — Vicki B asked this question in my last post:

Keith,

I was browsing the Conditioning Research site today and came across this interview:
http://conditioningresearch.blogspot.com/2010/07/interview-fred-fornicola.html
The part that raised a flag with me was when he went into lifting explosively. It seems as though he is saying lifting weights fast and explosively, as you do in your training, has no benefit.

Thoughts?

And my response –

Vicki,

What usually gets left out of the HIT/SS vs Explosive (Oly, Oly-derivatives, plos, etc.) training debates is a definition of just what training demographic we’re talking about. If we’re talking about the vast majority of everyday trainees, then I agree with Fred — there is no real need to train explosively; the risk/reward ratio for this demographic utilizing this manner of training simply isn’t there. The most bang-for-the-buck for this population is related to strength and hypertrophy gains that can be more than adequately achieved via HIT/SS protocols (for example). Now, if we’re talking about the small subset of trainees who are in fact athletes, however, then I have to respectfully disagree with Fred’s stance. Now, this of course leads into the age-old debate of “does explosive training make great athletes, or do great athletes make for impressive explosive training?” And my answer is yes…to both sides. To put it another way, it is my belief that good athletes are born, but better athletes can most certainly be made. So yes, it takes an innate athletic gift to pull this type of training off to begin with, but in a self-perpetuating, positive-feedback loop kind of a way, performing these lifts does make one a better athlete. Explosiveness, RFD, CNS efficiency — all of this can be trained for aside from actual sport participation. Deriving benefit from explosive lifting is kinda like hovering around the blackjack table — if ya wanna chance at winning, ya gotta ante up; the problem is, with this table you’re only admitted by legacy/birthright to even have the option of laying down an ante. At this table, though, the real odds-buster just getting the chance to play; if you’re at the point were you’re being dealt to, you’ll win more than you’ll lose. Does an athlete need to build a solid base of strength before engaging in explosive training? Oh hell yes absolutely! But once that is achieved, there’s no sense, in my mind, of pulling the plug there. Is there greater risk involved with this manner of training? To be sure, which is why every athlete’s needs to be weighed against the risk/reward ratio of the pending training method.

Let me just say, though, that this is a debate that could fill volumes, and that this is simply my personal opinion gleaned from what I’ve seen over the years.

One thing I’d add here is that the trainee will have a pretty good idea of what genetic hand has been dealt early on in the game.  Just as “natural athletes” are born, so too will basic strength and hypertrophy come fast and relatively easy to a certain subgroup.  This, by the way, is also the subgroup that can tolerate (and, in my opinion benefit from — if the risk/reward ratio is deemed appropriate) higher intensities dosed at more frequent intervals than ought to be delivered to the “average” trainee.  Know yourself, be honest about your abilities, direct your goals accordingly, and train smart/appropriately.  Everyone can benefit enormously from basic strength training; few need to dabble in the highly explosive, more skill-dependent movements.  Those for whom the risk/return ratio for explosive/skilled movements is justified, though, I believe can benefit greatly from this type of training.  The key, as always – from the beginning trainee to the most advanced — is constant evaluation and dedication to fixing the weak link.

Another little something to contemplate over the next few days-

I speak quite often of the notion that one need not be a slave to, or resigned to, the dictates of a particular genetic hand.  To be sure, everyone comes into this world saddled with certain limitations, both genetic and, we now know, epigenetic.  However, to a large extent, DNA need not be one’s destiny.  This, to me, is a fascinating revelation, and lends credence to the much parodied, self-help guru notion of mind-over-matter.  Seen in this light, old coots like Jack LaLanne and Paul Chek just might not be as “crazy” as some of their peers within the Physical Culture community paint them to be.

You are, to a very large degree, what you believe yourself to be.  Confidence, self-talk, and what you allow to enter your “temple” – whether sensory or nutritionally –matters greatly.   And we now know it matters greatly to your progeny as well.

Represent.

See y’all when I get back from Texas.

The Quick-and-Dirty on Calorie Intake, and an Evening Iron Session

Calorie intake as it relates to phenotypical expression; to cop a phrase from Robb Wolf: “Holy Cats!”  I really have nothing but the deepest of sympathies for people who do not happen to make Paleo/Primal, Physical Culture their geek-out hobby – I can only imagine what it’s like to stumble into this arena trying to find a sane voice.  Who to believe?

Bottom line, folks:  calories do matter – they’re just not the end-all, not the full story.  Taube’s axiom of “a calorie is not a calorie” is true, to be sure; it should not, however, be considered as license to unmitigated gluttony, free of consequences (especially fat gain).  Calories ought to be considered as the co-stars of a jam-packed, star-studded stage, wherein insulin could be considered the production’s glamorous diva.  Ok, that’s about enough of that analogy…

Skyler Tanner has posted a nice observation on gross calorie intake vis-à-vis its effect on body composition, with some poignant takes on how his own body reacted to a few weeks worth of decreased caloric intake as a result of his recent vagabonding expedition around central America.  Now, I don’t bring this up to throw Skyler under the H8R bus (don’t be hatin’!) – being the naturally lean guy he is, who’s free to engage in extended leisure travel – no, the reason I bring this up is that it’s a perfect example of the fact that as people drop weight, at a certain point, calories will have to be restricted to reach ultra-low body fat levels.  Now, we can prompt this calorie restriction in a number of different ways, the easiest being to severely restrict all carbs (to the point of going zero carb in some cases) and increase the fat intake.  This approach offers a nice one-two punch, in that fat tends to satiate one’s appetite quickly, and we get a lower insulin response to boot.  Now, at what point calorie restriction  is required to spur further weight drop is dependent upon a multitude of factors, not the least of which are sex, hormone/biochemical milieu, activity level…and on and on it goes.  Sometimes one might even need to increase calorie intake for a short period (to re-vamp the metabolism), then return to a decreased level.  One thing is for certain, though: drill down just a bit, and the weight loss/weight gain game becomes a highly n=1 affair.  For more on that, check out this story, from my friends at Efficient Exercise, in Austin, Texas.

Another reason I bring up the calorie issue is that I have received quite a few questions as of late specifically asking about lean mass gain.  Skyler has stated that he intends to engage in a little n=1, weight-gain experimentation of his own.  And he’s in a perfect position right now to do so, having dropped down to a single-digit body fat percentage.  And again I ask: how friggin’ fair is that?  The guy returns from an extended vacation to find his bodyfat chillin’ in the single-digits?  Ok, so how about we drop the hate-fest for the lucky guy, and set about monitoring his upcoming weight-gain technique and following his progress?  Can he pull-off some sizable lean gains without tacking-on too much in the way fat gain and/or water retention?  I’ll bet the (organic) farm that he can.  Skyler is an experienced trainer and, bottom line, he knows what in the hell he’s doing.  I think we’ll all learn a thing or two from his experiment.

And along those lines, here’s a way-cool web-based BMI, Waist/Height Ratio, BMR, %BF, Surface Area, and Willoughby Ideal Weight and Waist calculator that Skyler alerted me to.  My own numbers (6’-0”, 205lbs, 33” waist) equate to a pretty good return, especially if I focus on the “Willoughby Ideal”, and ignore the “establishment’s” BMI recommendations.

Tuesday Evening’s Workout –

reverse lunge + (btn jerk): 95 x 10 (10); 165 x 6 (6); 175 x 5 (3).  I then put 195 on the bar and hit 3 more sets of 2 in the btn jerks.  On each set, I completed the lunge reps on each leg, then, after a quick breather, moved into the btn jerk reps.

Notice I only did three sets of lunges.  This is in deference to the amount of biking and sprinting (coupled with the hip-dominant Oly-derivatives) I do during the spring, summer and fall; I don’t want to tumble into the dreaded overtraining hole, so *usually* I’ll opt to drop the 2nd “to failure” set if I’m following a classic APRE leg scheme.

Following the lunge/btn jerk combo, I played around with some single leg good mornings into a high box step-up – just some explosive, bw stuff.  My legs were pretty well dusted from the lunges and jerks, though, so I kept things quick & explosive and didn’t add any additional loading.  I did a total of maybe 20 reps each leg, at bw.  I really love this movement, though I haven’t done them in quite a while.  Check out coach Jimmy Radcliffe explaining and demonstrating the movement progression here (via Jason Glass Performance Lab):

I’ve been doing a lot of high-rep, feet elevated, push-ups lately, so I decided to throw the body a curveball and hit it with something I do rarely – machine flyes.  This particular pec-deck is of the “straight arm” variety (versus the variety which places the arm/elbow at a 90-degree position).   Anyway, it offers a nice change-up every now and again.  Consistency of movement, especially within the same rep range and intensity, is just another of the many factors that can lead to overtraining, and just the kind of easy-to-fall-into rut that I avoid like the plague.

Atlantis pec-deck: 150 x 12; 210 x 7; 225 x 7+; 225 x 5+