The Ancestral Health Symposium, 2011

“To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals.” – Benjamin Franklin

Excellent! ¬†Always a man ahead of his time; cool Ben, the original proponent of intermittent fasting ūüėČ

The Ancestral Health Symposium, 2011

In a word, just a fabulous, fabulous, 2-day event. ¬†I won’t go into a complete re-tread of of AHS 2011 events here; soon enough, you’ll be able to partake of the entire 2-day extravaganza — at least virtually, via slides and Vimeo — here. ¬†And I really¬†implore¬†you to do so, as all the presentations were top-notch. ¬†But more to the point, so much good coverage (this piece, for one example) has already been written on the event, anything else would simply be rehash. ¬†One suggestion, though: for a really cool perspective of the gathering, how about some Twitter hashtag coverage of AHS11?

Above, the pre-game warm-up:¬† Meesus TTP and I (and Skyler Tanner — blue shirt, over my left shoulder) take in Doug McGuff’s¬†Body By Science presentation, just prior to the Tanner/Norris dog-and-pony show — the unveiling of Physical Culture 2.0, Efficient Exercise style. ¬†Photo by my good friend (and excellent photographer) A. Jolly.

Plenty of great blogosphere coverage of AHS11, yes. ¬†Unfortunately, what you won’t be¬†privy¬†to were all the stimulating, impromptu, cross-disciplinary conversations¬†among¬†presenters, and between presenters and the¬†myriad (600+?) of attendees. ¬†Oh, that and the stunning UCLA campus, and the oh-so-perfect 72-degree, no humidity weather. ¬†Not that I’m weather-jealous or anything… Anyway, what a rich environment for the blending of knowledge and ideas. ¬†It has taken me a full week to decompress, process and¬†synthesize¬†all that I took in during that whirlwind two days. ¬†Wow, is just about all that I can say at the moment. ¬†My pea-little brain is still in overload. ¬†Or maybe it was the 105-degree Texas heat I returned to (again, I’m not LA¬†weather-jealous); sprints, bar work and tire flips being my welcome home to Tejas workout. ¬†Crazy? ¬†Yeah, no doubt — but a Physical Culture 2.0¬†fit¬†kind of crazy — and that makes being crazy, well…kinda¬†okay ūüôā

And speaking of crazy

A *serious* meeting of the minds ūüėČ

Okay, so it wasn’t all¬†furrowed-brow and free of levity ūüėČ ¬†The symposium was, in fact, a seriously fun, extremely social event as well. ¬†As the above picture was being taken by Meesus TTP, John Welbourn (of CrossFit Football) — who was leaned against a table just to my right — was uttering “awk-waaaard”; just too friggin’ funny. ¬†Immediately following this shot, I had the opportunity to chat a while (Chico sockmonkey in-hand) with John about his training experience with Louie Simmons and the Westside Barbell crew out in Cleveland, Ohio. ¬†Some fascinating, first-person insight into Louie’s methods (lift heavy some days, lift fast other days. ¬†Bust ass all days; that about sums it up). ¬†The juxtaposition of this picture and that training-related chat I had with John rather epitomized the entire¬†conference¬†for me; fun, frolic and seriousness — all combined into a two-day “Woodstock” of primal-living event. ¬†Kudos to the original epistemocrat, Brent Pottinger, and the ever-hospitable Aaron Blaisdell, and their team of dedicated volunteers for pulling-off such a fantastic event. ¬†I’m already looking forward to AHS 2012.

Physical Culture (PC), 2.0

The philosopher Ken Wilber ‚Äď who I‚Äôve been devouring ever since being introduced to his work via my AHS 2011 co-presenter, Skyler Tanner ‚Äď speaks of evolution as a process of transcendence and inclusion; exactly the process by which PC (Physical Culture) 2.0 will ‚Äúevolve‚ÄĚ from the current, sorry state of affairs (think bloated, cartoonish, professional bodybuilders) into the defining, all-encompassing meme of the Ancestral Fitness movement; the “yang” component to the Paleo diet “yin”. ¬†This healthy, lasting process is not so much anarchistic revolution as it is building upon (‚Äútranscending‚ÄĚ in every sense of the word) that which has come before; even that which we might be quick to label ‚Äúmalicious‚ÄĚ at best ‚ÄĒ for example, the doings of the AMA and Big Pharma, the Prodigal Son-like travels of Physical Culture 1.0. Take beyond/carry forward that which is good and helpful; simply leave behind what is not, with no emotional attachment. This is the way of true progress.

My good friend and tribal elder, Ken O’Neill, has written a wonderful piece related to the emerging Physical Culture 2.0. ¬†It seems to me that this movement is being born even as we ping ideas and methodologies back and forth; as if we are actually midwifing (if that is actually a valid term) the movement into being rather than “inventing” anything per se. ¬†Fiction writers often speak of “chanelling” a work into being rather that actually “creating” anything. ¬†I can certainly attest to that notion, having written a work of fiction myself (The Blood of Samuel), and I have to say that this particular “emergence” process feels much the same as bringing a work of fiction from the “ether” and into the mortal world. ¬†Call it being a conduit between realms, if you will — and if you’re down with that kind of thing.¬† But one thing is for sure: this movement is underway, and it simply won’t be, cannot be, stopped.

Framework vs Fundamentalism

One theme that I was happy to see emerge from the Ancestral Health Symposium was that of basing N=1 experimentation upon an evolutionary framework, as opposed to sheepishly following some lock-step, dogmatic, one-size-fits-all prescription. ¬†Remember, as viewed through the evolutionary¬†lens, “optimum” can only be hinted at; more digging, more critical thinking, more thinkering (hat tip to Brett Pottinger for the term) is required to tease-out the optimum from the merely satisfactory. ¬†That our species can survive to breeding age and successfully reproduce on a completely bankrupt diet is a¬†testament¬†to our supreme adaptability, and speaks nothing to what is¬†optimum¬†for our genotype. ¬†And, too, any step toward singularity is a step toward extinction, be that in a species or in an entity. ¬†My hope is that the healthy debate of ideas remains a¬†integral¬†part of the AHS organization.

On the Workout Front…

I’ve been a bit jammed for time as of late, so what I thought I’d do, in lieu of posting a round-up of all of my between post workouts, is to select a choice few to¬†dissect. ¬† The following is a metcon workout that I completed on Saturday, the 13th. ¬†The clips are in two parts, because I’m an IT-idgit, and couldn’t get Windows Movie Maker to¬†cooperate¬†with me and my Android clips. ¬†Shouldn’t this all be¬†compatible? ¬†Meh…

Part I

…and continuing on with the 4th exercise in the circuit…

Notice that none of the 4 exercises in this circuit are particularly technique-heavy, and are therefore¬†suitable¬†for under-fatigue utilization. ¬†And by this, the 5th round of this doozie, I’ve got some serious fatigue goin’ on; though I’m still pushing the front squats with adequate umph, the explosion in my prowler pushes has pretty much¬†dwindled¬†to nada. ¬†Of course the real ball-busters in this circuit are the front squats and prowler pushes; the dips and curls can almost be thought of as “active recovery”. ¬†And this is how I like to program a weight-centric metcon workout — variations of intensity within the circuit itself, and little to no rest between each round. ¬†Think American football, two-minute drill here. ¬†This type of workout — repeat, short-duration busts of high power output — lands square in the middle of my natural ability wheelhouse; my basecamp, as it were.

And Finally…

Check out this excellent and informative KQED/Sydnie Kohara interview –¬†Sustainable Meat and the Art of Butchery

Charcuterie is near and dear to my heart; a luxury afforded to those of us lucky enough to be alive in this day and age, and another example of enjoying that life under the framework of a stone age existence, but with the benefits extended to modernity.

About the show, from KQED’s Forum website:

In recent years, more chefs and consumers are demanding local, sustainable meats, driving some to raise and butcher their own livestock. We get into the gristle with three butchers and talk all about meat, from what consumers should be asking at the counter to how to cook a whole pig in the back yard.

Grock on.

In health,


Return-On-Investment; Time vs Goals

I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.

William Shakespeare

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 ūüėČ

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 ūüėČ

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* ūüôā

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…”

–¬†Jonathan Haidt¬†

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 ūüôā


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 ūüôā


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? ¬†ūüôā

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…

5/1/11, Sunday

Sprints and such; bar work, rope climbs and tire flips.  Broad jumps into a sand pit.  Hurdle hops.

5/3/11, Tuesday

(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

5/4/11, Wednesday

(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

5/6/11, Friday

(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

5/9/11, Monday

(A1) safety bar squat: +140/15
(A2) farmers walks: 2 parking lot loops @ bar +90 each hand

5/10/11, Tuesday

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

5/11/11, Wednesday

Another Autoreg example
(A1) XC 45-deg incline press: (midline +0)/12, +50/6, +50 (rear)/9
…go +70/6

(A2) T-bar row: 110/12, 200/6, 245/6, 5

5/13/11, Friday

(A1) dynamic trap bar DL: 245 + black bands, 7 sets of 3

3-hours later…
(B1) incline bench press: 135/20, 20 (rest-pause), 20 (rest-pause)

(B2) blast strap flyes: bw/20, 21 (rest-pause), 17 (rest-pause)

(B3) blast strap rows: bw/25, 25

5/14/11, Saturday

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.

5/15/11, Sunday

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 ūüėČ

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 ūüôā ¬†Can’t blame a man for tryin’…

In health,


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¬† ūüôā¬† I pulled-off this doozie at the Efficient Exercise downtown location:

Tru squat: (weight ‚Äď 100, counter weight ‚Äď 115, wide stance, 3rd pin, 4040 tempo*) 12,¬†approx. 15 secs. rest, 10 ‚Äď 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 ūüôā

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.

Announcing an Exciting New Partnership!

‚ÄúWow‚ÄĚ is such an understatement, yet it‚Äôs the only word I have to express my joy at the moment. ¬†Maybe Robb Wolf wouldn‚Äôt mind if I borrowed his ‚ÄúHoly Cats!‚ÄĚ for the occasion ūüôā

Well, after much (and months worth of!) pains-taking consideration — the manner and degree of which was truly worthy of any life-course altering decision — all the various pieces have now finally all come together, and the timing is right. ¬†Serendipity has manifested both an opportunity and the ¬†perfect outlet for me to pursue my life-long love and exploration of Physical Culture, and to fulfill my desire of ‚Äúpaying forward‚ÄĚ that passion and knowledge of the subject to those who might hunger for the message. ¬†And to make a good situation even better, that opportunity just happens to be in my beloved native state of Texas‚Ķhey, who could ask for more?

So what’s with all the elation today?  Well, Austin Texas’ Efficient Exercise president Mark Alexander and I have recently came to terms on a deal that will bring me and my North Carolina dog-and-pony show down to the Austin area to become an integral part of the Efficient Exercise team (which includes, by the way, Skyler Tanner).  And I couldn’t be more thrilled over the prospect.

I can‚Äôt think of a more perfect outlet than Efficient Exercise for me to freely coach (some would say ‚Äúevangelize‚ÄĚ) my brand of Physical Culture ‚Äď High Intensity Training (HIT) that is results-driven, essentially protocol agnostic, and personally tailored to meet each and every individual client‚Äôs unique needs and goals. ¬†Mark and I share the same vision of providing not only excellently-crafted and uniquely tailored personal training, but also comprehensive life coaching. ¬†We all know that Physical Culture doesn‚Äôt end in the gym; in fact, ‚Äútraining‚ÄĚ is only a small part of a 24/7, life-long wellness pursuit. ¬†Training, diet, day-to-day lifestyle choices ‚Äď all of these are interwoven threads which contribute to the great tapestry of a life well-lived. ¬†My personal aims and goals coincide perfectly with the Efficient Exercise vision of providing a comprehensive and personalized Physical Culture education to those who endeavor to look good, feel fantastic, and perform optimally.

One client at a time, one life change at a time; uniquely-crafted, personalized service.  That’s the Efficient Exercise standard of excellence, and that commitment to excellence is why I’ve ultimately decided to become a part of the fabulous Efficient Exercise team.

How this will ultimately affect the Theory to Practice blog going forward, well, at this juncture, I‚Äôm not quite sure. ¬†I can certainly envision posting much more ‚Äúthrough the trainee‚Äôs eyes‚ÄĚ type content, as well as more Austin-area based posts (I can‚Äôt wait to dive head-first into the Austin area fixie scene ¬†J ¬†¬†) from the Efficient Exercise blog. ¬†¬†We also plan to enhance the Efficient Exercise web presence, and so TTP may become absorbed into the cumulative, revamped Efficient Exercise web experience. ¬†Or, it may be that I‚Äôll post the more ‚Äúnuts and bolts‚ÄĚ diet and training related ideas on the Efficient Exercise side, while keeping to the more theoretical and conjecture-based topics here at TTP. ¬†Time will tell, and these things will eventually shake out.

So needless to say, this is very, very exciting for me. ¬†As the Austin/central Texas area is a Mecca for endurance-based athletes, I‚Äôd love to bring some of these folks into the Efficient Exercise fold, and chronicle their strength-derived, endurance performance progress. ¬†Hey, c’mon by and check me out Lance,¬† ūüôā¬† — and all the guys and gals out at Mellow Johnny‚Äôs, too ‚Äď added strength and a rockin‚Äô anaerobic metabolism are the endurance athlete‚Äôs heightened performance secret weapons.

But then again, added strength and a rockin’ anaerobic metabolic system are the secret weapons to everyone’s looking good, feeling fantastic, and reforming optimally.

So you’ve been good to me, North Carolina; really good to me.  I’ll cherish all the many, many good memories, and I’ll certainly miss all the close friends I’ve made here over the years.  Time doesn’t stand still, though, and we all have to heed our calling if we are to be truly fulfilled.

Stay tuned TTP readers, for more updates, and a new edge to the TTP blog.  And if you’re in the Austin area and looking for a personalized training experience and/or some serious lifestyle coaching, give us a call, or drop in and see us.

My “180 Degrees From the Norm”, Efficient Exercise Training Session

As I’ve alluded to in posts over the past few days, I recently had the pleasure, while on a a quick jaunt out west to my old stomping grounds and a long overdue visit with friends, family (and especially!) Meesus TTP, of working out at one of the four Austin, Texas area Efficient Exercise locations .

Efficient Exercise president Mark Alexander was gracious enough to offer up the use of one of his studios for the morning, and EE trainer Skyler Tanner stepped-up to donate his most excellent “task master” services.¬† What a great team these guys make.¬† As Doug McGuff (Body by Science) commented on a recent post:

“..there is no-one better qualified to dish out a HIT beat-down than Skyler. Efficient Exercise is a beautiful facility‚Ķa perfect mix of Scandinavian minimalism and dungeon…”

I have to agree on both points.

But enough man-gushing, huh?¬† Let’s get down to it.

Below, and in bold, I’ve unabashedly plagiarized Skyler’s email to me detailing the HIT/SS paces he put me through on that morning.¬† I’ve made a few inconsequential edits for the sake of flow, context and clarity, but the bulk of this is Skyler’s own words.¬† I’d asked him to do this because, quite frankly, everything just kinda melded into a single, ball-bustin’ event subsequent to the RDL hyper-rep treatment that kicked-off the workout.¬† This is why it is, in my opinion, so very, very important to have a skilled and knowledgeable coach/trainer in your corner during this process.¬† One simply cannot — or at least I can’t — maintain a laser-like focus on the doing, while at the same time effectively controlling all the input variables (tracking time, counting tempo, fine-tuning resistance, etc.), and observing for proper form, alignment, execution, and rep speed — not to mention the tracking of current performance so as to construct follow-on workouts.¬† Pulling-off one of these training sessions really is a team effort.¬† And the expert controlling of these input variables — and all the while adding valuable coaching/prompting cues — are absolutely critical to maximizing one’s time — and, subsequently, the results obtained — in the gym.

My comments — the things I remembered after the fact, notes to self for the next outing, etc. — are italicized.

Video clips of this workout are posted at the Efficient Exercise Youtube page.¬† Below is a compilation of the session in its entirety…

…and here’s a clip capturing Skyler‚Äôs expertise in coaching me through the leg press portion of the workout.

This level of professional coaching and guidance is priceless, allowing the trainee (me, in this instance) to focus totally on the ‚Äúdoing‚ÄĚ, and thereby leaving the manipulation of the many input variables, in Skyler‚Äôs control.

A couple of notes before we dissect this workout:
(1) my last previous workout to this was on the Thursday prior to this Saturday morning.
(2) I began this workout at approximately 19 hours fasted; post-workout re-feed occurred at approximately hour 22.  And damn, was it ever good! (and appreciated!).  Artz Rib House!
(3) I hit this workout after having worked all day, traveling 5+ hours, and getting only about 5¬† or so hours of sleep the night prior; not whinin’, just sayin’.¬† My point here is not to glorify cortisol-inducing stupidity or my refined Protestant work ethic, but to further highlight the efficacy of this type of workout (HIT/SS, specifically) within the grand spectrum of training modalities.¬† Had this option (a short, sweet, and to the point modality) not been available , I would not have worked out at all.¬† Something to keep in mind, especially those chronically pressed for time.¬† Hey, wait…doesn’t that describe all of us?

Anyway, here we go with the breakdown of my HIT adventure:

Here’s what we did:
1. Romanian Deadlift (hyper repetitions on CZT-V): This was done for 5 repetitions. The first 2 reps were warm ups, with you pulling 50% and 75% of perceived max, respectively. The final 3 reps I instructed you to “break the machine” and pull like the dickens.

Holy ass-kickin’, Batman; hyper reps on the CZT are the bomb!¬† This, without a doubt, had to be the most intense few reps that I’ve pulled (and resisted!) in I don’t know how long.¬† In fact, intense doesn’t even begin to define it.¬† Plenty of “mental jedi” tricks going on here right off the bat.¬† For starters (and on a positive note), I “knew” that safety wasn’t an issue.¬† In other words, I could mute the internal “safety marm” that chides me to watch-out for a miss, dropped weights, technique malfunction, etc.¬† On the negative side, it was hard as all hell to override the the internal “overload police” — that voice that screams TOO MUCH LOAD, WE’RE THROTTLING DOWN TO SAVE YOUR DUMB ASS! which, of course, gets safety marm in a thither all over again.¬† Forget about effectively keeping track of tempo, rep count — hell, forget about anything other than pulling (on the concentric) and resisting the drop (on the eccentric).¬† Zen practitioners speak of “being in the moment”; hell, I defy anyone to *not* be in the moment while engaged in a hyper-rep on the CZT.¬† This is where having access to a good trainer/coach is invaluable.

Notes for the next time out:
(1) I think that a more thorough warm-up would’ve primed me better — both physically and mentally — for the rigors of this beast.

(2) My grip faltered on the 4th rep, and failed on the least.¬† You’re only as strong as your weak link, and in this case, that was my grip.¬† I think I had a bit more in the ol’ PC; straps might be an option next time out.¬† That, and working on building up my wuss grip between now and then.¬† Seriously, though — when the brain senses a failure in any one component (in this case, my grip) it sends out an all-inclusive, “shut ‘er down” signal.

(3) My default neurological impulse in this movement pattern is to “rip and explode”, so a prolonged “pull and resist” was totally outside my wheelhouse.¬† The thing is, if I improve here, I’l have built much more umph! to pack behind that “rip and explode”.¬† This is the “all connectedness” of differing training modalities.

Ok, so we’re 2-minutes in (if that), and I’m already zorched.

2. Nautilus Nitro Leg Press: 440lbs, with the goal to fatigue you before a 2:00 TUL. The goal cadence was ~10/10, though I wasn’t worried about being perfect. You controlled the turn arounds and crept out of the hole. At about 1:15 I added 45 more pounds because you looked like you could go forever. You fatigued around 1:45

I think that all the biking I do contributes greatly to my strength-endurance in quad dominant movements.¬† I’m in serious mental, pinpoint focus, now, on just completing the next rep, the next second, and¬† I’m totally under Skyler’s direction, now, trying best I can to react to his cues.¬† There’s very little anticipation at this point — I’m purely in reaction mode.¬† Again, I have to fight¬† the default neurological urge to “grip and rip”.¬† And there’s a kind of feed-back mechanism here that messes with the mind.¬† In a free-weight, explosive movement, the feedback is that escape velocity (for lack of a better term) has been achieved, and now it’s time to transition to the catch or receive phase of the movement.¬† Not so here.¬† This is a totally different physiological stimulus.¬† Right about now my body is screaming *WTF is this??*

3. 1 minute chinup: You performed a chinup with a 30 second positive and 30 second negative.

Funny thing here; these were performed on individual straps hanging from the rafters (think gymnastic rings), the height positioning of which required me to vert maybe 18″ (if that) to grab the handles.¬† As I stood beneath the handles, ready to jump — having just waddled from the leg press — my mind said “are you friggin’ crazy?¬† you’re not jumpin’ anywhere, bud!”.¬† It was one of the strangest feelings of neurological immobilization that I’ve ever had.¬† I had to have Skyler spot me as I attempted to the bridge the mighty 18″ gap.¬† Whoa.¬† Yeah, at this point I’m toast from the navel on down. Thank God my mighty vert — along with my pleading for a spot — was¬† edited out ūüôā

The instability of the “rings” added another level of difficulty here.¬† Think chinups aren’t also a great core movement?¬† Try these on for size and let me know.

4. Nautilus Nitro Bicep (Super Rep): I over-estimated your strength, so you ended up performing what I call a “Super Rep.” This is where you perform a 1rm and attempt to hold the point of full contraction. The negative takes care of itself.

Damn right, after the chinup torture, my bi’s were like a pair of wet socks.¬† I think the instability of the rings forces greater bicep involvement in the chinup/pull-up movement.¬† Or maybe it’s just me?

5. Negative-only chinups: This was performed on the CZT-V. I used the first repetition’s strength number to assess when to end the set. When you inroaded your strength levels to 90% of the start, I cut the set. You made 4 reps.

I’m absolutely in love with this CZT machine; the same unit was used for the RDL pulls and resists.

6. 1 minute Dip: You actually performed 1 minute on the positive and 30 seconds on the negative.

I’m naturally strong in this, the triceps-dominant variation, of the movement.¬† Big tris, small chest; a natural “triceps pusher”.

7. Superslow triceps extension: I picked a heavy enough weight to fatigue you in under 2 minutes at roughly a 10/10 cadence. You fatigued at ~1:40

Yep, the ol’ tris were pretty hammered at this point.¬† “Welcome to the club o’ fatigue”, the biceps are sayin’.

8. Negative-only dips: This was performed on the CZT-V. I used the first repetition’s strength number to assess when to end the set. When you inroaded your strength levels to 90% of the start, I cut the set. You made 4 reps.

Have I said that I love this piece of equipment?¬† Yeah?¬† Well, it can’t be said enough.¬† One can totally lay it on the line with this machine, with no fear of “losing” the weight or otherwise making a weightroom, crash-and-burn “scene”.¬† And believe me, I’ve been *that* scene-maker.¬† Hey, if you’ve never failed, or been forced to bail-out in a totally ungraceful way, you’re just not pushing the envelope, right?¬† That failure defines a boundary that is now your new goal to conquer.¬† This is how we improve.¬† Anyway, the CZT not only lets the trainee push to the absolute end of his rope, but allows for a precise measurement of the “fail” point — all without weight-room calamity.¬† Not only that, but the desired level of inroading can be precisely dosed.¬† Nothing short of genius, I think.

So I love being pushed outside of my comfort zone, made to perform at tasks well outside of my wheelhouse, and this was definitely the ticket.¬† Would I recommend a HIT and/or Super-Slow protocol to others?¬† You bet.¬† For strength, power and speed athletes, this is a fantastic protocol to keep “in the rotation”.¬† For non and/or recreational athletes — or those “busy executive” types who want to stay in prime shape (and look good nekkid ) — I can’t see where you’d need any more than this.¬† I mean, damn — I’m not kidding when I say that this was a rugged 15 minutes!¬† I think that’s one of the other cool things about the Efficient Exercise system — scalability.¬† Someone with absolutely no training experience can come in off the street and be up and running in no time, while someone like me — with 30+ years of “skin” in the game — can be pushed to the point of buckling.¬† Am I sold on the system?¬† Damn right I am.

If you’re lucky enough to live in the Austin area, be sure to look up the Efficient Exercise team.¬† I can’t say enough positive things about this organization, their training philosophy, superb studios, and personal attention.¬† I wish that I had ready access to such a facility — if I did, I’d most definitely utilize it.¬† That’s a hell of a lot of fitness bang for such an inconsequential amount of time investment.

Oh, and one other thing: Austin area endurance athletes looking for strength training?¬† The Efficient Exercise protocol is your ticket.¬† I know Austin is full of endurance-minded folks (hey, Lance, you listening?) who realize the absolute necessity of strength work for longevity in the sport (not to mention injury prevention) — so how does 15 minutes devoted to strength training, every 5 to 8 days or so sound?¬† Hey, don’t take my word blindly, check it out for yourself — I guarantee you’ll see and feel the difference, and you’ll perform much better.

More on the advantages of HIT/SS for the endurance athlete later.

The Endorsements: Paleokits

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened.”

Alexander Graham Bell

I’ve thought that an every-so-often post covering products, services and/or merchants that I think enough of to endorse would be a good thing.¬† It’s a win-win in my book; the altruist in me gets to feel like he’s done a good deed by promoting, in at least some small way, a good product, service or seller deserving of positive press.¬† The more pragmatic me would like to know if there is possibly an even better (fill in the blank) out there that he’s heretofore been unaware of, or maybe he needs to consider (fill in the blank) in a new light.¬† So by all means, if you think I’m off my rocker, let me know; don’t let me get away unscathed with disseminating hare-brained information ūüôā

And now for the disclaimer: while I receive no compensation as such for my endorsements, I am, from time-to-time, sent free, no strings attached, “samples” of certain products.¬† Now, I don’t believe that this necessarily sways my opinion toward the good — for instance, I have been sent products (a book to review, in this particular instance) that I simply could not endorse.¬† My opinion here is that, since I did not actually purchase the product with my own funds, I am not at liberty to not recommend the product.¬† In a case such as this (and with this particular book), I simply told the publisher that I could not comment favorably on the book, and so I would not comment at all.¬† The bigger question in this particular case was why the publisher ever felt that I’d gush favorably on this tripe — a “mainstream” approach, calories-in/calories-out, diet scheme.¬† Oh well, as they say, life is strange, and people are stranger yet.¬† Anyway, the net result was that you heard nothing from me — to the good or ill — on the work, and said book went straight to the recycle heap where, if a righteous universe is willing, it will never see the light of day again.

And now, with that out of the way, let’s move on to the meat of inaugural, TTP “Endorsements” post: Paleokits

good grub, in a pinch
good grub, in a pinch

The down and dirty on these little beauts: A damn good idea, these Paleokits.¬† And pretty dang tasty, too. ¬† Now, I try to opt for real food at every opportunity, and, when that’s not possible, I fast.¬† Fairly easy, plain and simple concept, no?¬† But there are times when this structure absolutely hits the skids; exhibit A: a day’s worth of airport travel.¬† My last trip back home to beautiful G-Vegas, NC from San Antonio, Texas found me in an extended Chicago O’hare layover at T+24-hours fasted.¬† Now a better man would have just gutted it out ’til the following morning; a lesser man would’ve succumb to standard American airport fare.¬† Well, call me a wuss if you will, but I opted for the Paleokit, and I’m damn sure glad I did.¬† They really are a wonderful mix of ingredients.¬† Jerky, nuts and a smattering of dried cranberries and strawberries.¬† With an all-important, fabulous mouth-feel, as well. ¬† They sport a 4/2/7 protein/carb/fat ratio as measured in Zone blocks (if that registers with anyone); I could just look at the contents and gauge that the macro-nutrient breakdown was a hell of a lot better than, oh…about 100% of my other available options.¬† Ok, enough with the man-crushing; any knocks, you ask?¬† Well, if I had to nit-pic, I’d say that they’re a bit cumbersome to eat — in public, anyway.¬† Buy hey, whaddaya expect out of a big clump of tasty beef jerky, huh?¬† C’mon, we’re caveman wannabes, right?¬† Embrace the two-handed grip, clinched jaw rip.¬† It’ll set the stage properly for the subsequent and requisite, 10- minute, open-mouthed, chew-down.¬† Keep the grunting to a minimum and everything will be everything.

All joking aside, I do plan to order a good many of these packets, I liked them that much — both for the convenience and for the taste.¬† I think they’ll do (and pack) well for extended bike rides to boot.¬† And hell, I’m sure they store forever, so keeping a good surplus of them around for those pinch-times will pay dividends Paleo “bail-outs” alone.

Oh and by the way, I figured I’d get held up, hassled and cavity-searched (while barefooted) at airport security, trying to explain why I had these funky, shrink wrapped, plastic-explosive-looking items in my carry-on.¬† Not to be though, as they passed through a total of 4 security checks throughout my trip with nary a word from anyone in blue.¬† Hmmm, maybe these things are more ubiquitous than I thought.¬† Or maybe airport security is really…oh well, let’s not go there now.

In health,