New Address, Y’all!

Heads-up my friends, TTP has now joined forces with his lovely and accomplished wife (AKA Meesus TTP), of Eclectic Kitchen and Caveman Cuisine fame, and has shifted his S & C dog-and-pony show across town to Ancestral Momentum.   Hopefully, I’ll soon have an automatic redirect at this address, but until then…

Everything from this site has been copied to the new location (in theory, anyway), so nothing should be lost…including past post comments.  So be sure to come join us over at Ancestral Momentum for the best in S & C talk, combined with the whit and knowledge of one of the most accomplished Paleo/Primal chefs around!  See ya there!

In health…and fitness,


PaleoFX: The Ancestral Momentum – Theory to Practice Symposium

“The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.” – Bertrand Russell

Ok, big BIG news today, y’all.  Check it out:
PaleoFX Austin Partners, a leading organization dedicated to educating fitness, nutrition, healthcare professionals and laypersons on practical applications of ancestral lifestyle theory, is proud to announce the first annual PaleoFX, Ancestral Momentum – Theory to Practice Symposium, an event to be held in the epicenter of Physical Culture, Austin Texas, March 14th – 17th, 2012.
PaleoFX?  That’s short for functional Paleo.  Functional Paleo?  Yeah, that’s right — functional, as in respect to theory.  We’re taking the implementation aspect of Ancestral Wellness, and bringing it to the masses — right where the rubber-meets-the-proverbial-road.
There is, for sure, absolutely a place for theory — and then there comes the time when one has to actually put that theory to work in a real-world situation.  Life, kids, job — the whole big ball of wax that we all have to deal with, day-in and day-out.  Think of PaleoFX as the Yang to the Ancestral Health Symposium’s Yin.  Both Yin and Yang are vitally important to the whole, of course; theory, discussion — action, implementation.  Together, a vibrant whole that is infinitely stronger than its constituent parts.  You know the theory.  Now, let’s take that theory and put it into practice.
So today, we at the PaleoFX partners are thrilled to officially announce the PaleoFX, Ancestral Momentum – Theory to Practice Symposium (#PFX12).  Our mission is to fosters collaboration among fitness experts, healthcare professionals, nutritionists, research scientists and laypersons who approach their respective disciplines from an evolutionary perspective, in order to successfully address modern health challenges through the practical application of ancestral based theory/science.  #PFX12 is is being positioned as a complimentary event that will be cross-promoted with AHS12 — the Ancestral Health Symposium slated for August 2012 — with a focus on projecting Ancestral Wellness theory into specific practice.
So does this sound like your kinda jam?  Yeah, I figured so.  It’s definitely mine, too!
We’ll open the event on the evening of Wednesday March 14th with a welcome BBQ/meet-and-greet and continue the fun and frolic thru Saturday, March 17th.  Thursday & Friday will consist of on-site presentations, panels and fitness/movement oriented clinics anchored at Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports and spilling into other select venues throughout the University of Texas campus.  Saturday will consist of continued open clinics and outdoor focused movement/fitness events oriented around sites in the greater Austin area.  Get your tickets early, as we expect 500+ attendees at the event.  Don’t be left out!  Oh, and did I mention that this event is in conjunction with Austin’s famous South by Southwest festival?  Oh yeah, it’s gonna be one hellova party for sure!  Confirmed speakers to date include:
John Welbourn — just to name a few!
So that’s the essentials thus far, folks.  Not much to chew on just yet, I know — the information on the PFX12 site will grow exponentionally over the next few weeks though, so be sure to check back often.  Oh, and make a point of following us on Twitter:!/AustinPaleoFX, (#PFX12), and liking us on Facebook:
So get ready, and bring your A-game to PFX12.  I hope to see each and every one of you there — it’s gonna be a rockin’ spring 2012 in the ATX!
In health,

No Definition…

How would one “program” the following workout into a trainee’s overall regimen?  What the hell would you call such a thing?  Other than, “insane”, I suppose.

Touche 🙂

Here was the evenings happenings:

– a three-mile fixie huck, chock-full of starts, stops and sprints.

– a stop at Epoc Coffee, for a redeye and a wade through email purgatory

– on the road again; 6 miles of starts, stops, sprints.  Final destination, Efficient Exercise’s downtown location.

– A mish-mash of Nautilus Pec Dec, Nautilus Pullover, and bodyweight dip work.  All zone/JRep training. Completely by “feel”; no loads recorded, no past journal entries consulted and no journal entry made.  No real rhyme or reason to what zones I hit in each exercise other than what instinct dictated.  All zones were taken to failure, and I pulled the plug when I’d “had enough”.  Rep tempos varied; sometimes I repeated the same zone, other times not.  Why?  Because it felt right.

– a 6-ish mile mad dash down the Juggernaut that is the ATX’s Guadalupe street at 5 PM.

This is what it is to flow, with no regard for definition.

In health,


The Benefit of Less-Extreme Views

True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are united

~ Alexander von Humboldt

George Church (Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School) argues, in this Big Think piece, that the age-old divide between science and religion is solvable. “We can bring them together,” he says, “but it requires less extreme views, or what would benefit from less extreme views.”

And it’s my belief that the same idea holds true for Physical Culture’s role in taming the beast that is the American healthcare crisis.

As it currently stands, there is no credible entity that acts as a non-dogmatic, “non-partisan”  clearing house, of sorts, in which the various tools and techniques of Physical Culture can be explored in relation to the seeker’s desired outcome (along the health-performance continuum) — especially for those who’s desire it is to use a Paleo-like diet, coupled with resistance exercise, as a tools for achieving superior overall health.  My hope is that this summer’s Ancestral Health Symposium (and the symposium’s parent organization, the Ancestral Health Society) will become just that entity.  I am at the same time thrilled — and humbled! — to be one of the presenters at the symposium, where I will discuss resistance training’s role in achieving optimum health, the difference between “superior health” and “superior performance”, and the emergence of the Physical Culturalist (i.e., the new breed of personal trainer) and his role as “swim coach” as opposed to the healthcare professional’s role as “lifeguard”.  Hat tip to Greg Glassman, of CrossFit, for that fine analogy.  As medicine’s role in this new paradigm must change, so must the Physical Culturalist’s.


Of Autoregulation and overtraining

TTP reader Jeff Erno asks the following (via Facebook), in reference to EETV, episode 6:

Really enjoyed the episode, thanks for recording. The auto regulation stuff sounds interesting. Is there somewhere I can go to read more about it? Also, my experience is with HIT the last 2+ years and if I only workout once per week I have steadily gained week over week. At twice a week I can have what can look like a stall or retrogression. Do you think it is possible that my situation is more common and most people don’t know it since they never tried backing off? Curious what your take is. Love the episodes, please keep then coming.

And here’s my answer — expanded a bit, from my original Facebook response:

I’ve written about Autoregulation a few times in Theory to Practice, Jeff — see, especially, this post — and actually the subject is in our EETV bucketlist of topics to cover in more detail.  As well (and as I alluded to in this post), I’ll be talking more about the tenants of Autoregulation and it’s practical applications at the Orlando 21 Convention this summer — so stay tuned for that! 😉

As for the second question: a regression/stall at 2x/week is certainly not unheard of *if you are engaged in the same “type” of workout (rep tempo, exercise selection, rep/TUL scheme, etc…), workout to workout*  This is one reason why I shift things up in a conjugate-like fashion, both in my own workouts and in those of my clients.  You simply have to give the body a reason to overcompensate, otherwise, homeostasis will rule the day.  I really don’t want to get into a flame war over what I consider to be the (substantial) drawbacks of single-set-to-failure routines for performance enhancement, but let’s just say that it’s my humble opinion that these routines just don’t give the body much (or enough) stimulus to have to fight against.  Why should the body continue to adapt when it is not up against novel angles, cadences, tempos, volumes, intensities, etc.?  Ask any strength and conditioning coach what happens to 40 times when all you have your athletes do for speed/conditioning work is to run repeat 40’s — they digress — and not insubstantially, either.  This is similar to the problem you’re running up against here.

I really wish you could have been in Wimberley, Texas this weekend, at the home of Ken O’Neill, where Dr. Frank Wyatt spoke to us of “the Body Chaotic”, pushing physiological threshold limits, the nature of physiological fatigue/failure, and what it takes to force the body to overcompensate.  I’ll just say this: the early stages of training are relatively easy going, as just about any stimulus will force the body to overcompensate.  The longer one stays in the game, however, the harder it becomes to push up to and beyond the fatigue threshold required to elicit an overcompensation response.  In laymen’s terms, it’s friggin’ hard work.  It’s painful, even.  It requires a mental toughness that most trainees are simply not prepared for, or willing to offer-up, in exchange for results.

Now I’m by all means not an advocate of training unintelligently or in a shotgun, willy-nilly manner.  I do believe, though that doggedness, intensity, and the ability to repeatedly push beyond the brain’s “shut ‘er down” response are crucial for achieving optimal gains (note: striving for optimal health is another issue — related, but certainly not the same).  I do believe, as well, that the body’s ability to recover (another topic discussed by Dr. Wyatt) can be “trained” as well via periodic forays into an overtrained state.  Chronic overtraining ought to be avoided, of course; acute bouts though are, in my opinion, necessary if one’s quest is enhanced performance.  Remember, performance enhancement (which includes the chase for hypertrophy) is an emergent phenomena — akin to the study cloud formation, weather patterns even — not a more easily described, step-by-step process, akin to the operations of a clock, say.

If at all possible, get your hands on Brad Schoenfel’d study “The Mechanisms of Muscle Hypertrophy and Their Application to Resistance Training” (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Vol 24, #10; Oct 2010).  The chase for hypertrophy and/or realizing one’s ultimate genetic potential is not nearly as easy as simply tracking linear load/TUL progressions in a handful of exercises.


Workouts?  Oh yeah, you know it!  Here we go –

Tuesday, 5/31/11

(A1) Dips: bw/10; 45/10; 55/6; 90/4, 5; 45/11

(A2) ARX neutral-grip pull-down: HR/3, 3, 3

Thursday, 6/2/11

(A1) BTN push-press: 135/10; 155/6; 185/5, 7 (slight spot); 155/6

(A2) chins: bw/12; 45/7; 65/6, 6, bw/whoops!

(A3) RLC: bw/10, each of 4 rounds

then, 2 rounds of :
(B1) ARX negative only chin x 2

(B2) ARX negative only overhead press x 2

Saturday, 6/4

Sprints!  Bars!  Ropes!

Tuesday, 6/7
GVT volume work, 10 rounds

(A1) high bar squats: 165/10

(A2) seated DB clean & press: 40/10

Prior fixie riding made 10 rounds of squats a real bi-atch for sure!

Wednesday, 6/8

(A1) ARX close-grip bench: HR/3, 3, 3

(A2) dips: BW/15, 15, 15

(A3) T-Bar row: 125/10; 200/10; 245/8, 8 (Autoreg)

Friday, 6/10

(A1) Powermax 360 Tabata intervals (30 seconds on, 15 seconds off), 8 different movements.

(B1) long, fast, fixie ride

(C1) ARX RDL: HR x 3; 3 sets

Sunday, 6/12

Sprints and jumps

Milk, Steroids and Saturated Fat…Oh My!

Carl Lanore, of Super Human Radio, recently interviewed a very well-spoken Dr. Brian Roy on the benefits of quaffing milk in conjunction with serious resistance training.  Now I’m a firm believer, because of what I’ve seen come of my own n=1 experimentation and by way of results that I’ve seen in others, that milk — especially the whole, raw and unpasteurized variety (cream and half -&-half too) — is one of the best and healthiest anabolic “supplements” you can get your hands on.  Ahh, but it’s forever that “healthy” tag that trips everyone up.

“Milk isn’t Paleo”, says the purist.  And what about gut irritation?  Lactose intolerance?  Jacked insulin levels?  And the list goes on…and on…

I won’t get into the biochemistry behind the pros and cons of raw, unpasteurized dairy consumption — quite frankly, there are many (and much) better and more qualified resources around than me for that kind of detailed information — Robb Wolf and Stephan Guyenet being two of the best — but I do study my ass off and learn from guys like Robb and Stephan, and I’m nothing if not fastidious in my empirical observations.  So that said, does milk work for helping one to gain solid muscle mass?  Yes indeed, in combination with smart training, it absolutely does the trick.  Is it necessarily “healthy”?  Well, that’s entirely an n=1 determination based on the old tolerance for potential risk/reward ratio that must first be filtered through the prism of your own n=1 goal set.

Let’s all remember that that the realm of Physical Culture there are few hard and fast rules, and and even fewer absolutes.  The path to your definition of optimum physical culture can only be defined by your goals and the circumstance in which you find yourself.  Physical Culture is a continuum, not a football game to be “won” or “lost” in overtime, or (God forbid!!) a political issue in which the two sides first wrangle to define the terms and definitions of the argument, then seek to sink, in totality, the other side’s platform.  Finding the truth here is never a consideration; winning the argument is all that matters.  Physical Culture is about situational, n=1, best-case compromises, not universal right and wrongs.  Physical Culture is about finding, and expressing, self-truth.

And this is the case too with steroid use, and saturated fat intake, just to pull a couple of other hot-button examples from the hat.  Are either of these substances particularly “healthy”?  Well, what are the circumstances under which the question is being considered?  What is the dose, the frequency, and for how long do we intend to ingest this amount?  And, more importantly, what would be the consequences of not ingesting these substances under a given circumstance?   Example: for a Tour de France rider, that steroid use may help in the between-stage recovery process, allowing him to complete the entire event in better overall health than had he not taken the drug.  Which then begs the question of whether or not the event itself is even “healthy”, to which the consensus is, overwhelmingly, that it is not.  Of course, even entering the event in the first place is a choice, as is the choice between playing “clean” or doping (and all the gray-area in-betweens).  My point here is that these questions are hardly cut-and-dry.  We choose our poisons because they are thrilling, and because they make us feel alive, and we do what we can to mitigate the resultant damage of those “thrills” because, well, we want to dance with that particular poison for as long as possible.  I’m quite sure that pushing my power clean numbers as high as possible back in the day was not necessarily a “healthy” thing to do, but the explosive strength I gained as a result (and the enhanced ability to absorb force), allowed me to compete on the football field against much bigger opponents without getting destroyed in the process.   “Health”, then, is situationally relative.  And of what relevance is pristine health if one is never to engage the world for fear of chipping away at that health?  Life as a zoo animal is no life for me; I’ll take the extreme engagement/best practice mitigation route myself, thanks.

And, oh yeah, we want to stay in the game of life for as long as possible too — but only if it’s a “healthful” long as possible.  We all want to end in that glorious leap over the cliff, not the slow, agonizing trudge into a shallow sea.

Oh, and by the way, here and here are a couple of the studies that Dr. Roy refers to in the above-mentioned interview with Carl.  Good stuff.  And yeah, if you want a boost to your weight gain efforts you can do a hell of a lot worse than whole, raw, unpasteurized milk.  I’m just sayin’.

On the workout front –

Got 135 lbs laying around?  A chin-up bar, dip rack, some blast-straps and maybe some small blocks of time on your hands?  One thought here: workouts of the impromptu variety.  Yeah, that’s about all I had time for this week — and that’s a good thing! Huh; a good thing?  You bet, as times like this prevent me from falling into the dreaded “bench on Monday” rut.  Yeah, even I can fall into a certain rut if I’m not careful, and super-busy times are prime rut breeding bordellos.

So here are a couple of those “undocumented”, spur-of-the-moment workouts that I performed this week; just an example of the kinds of things that I do (in the gym) in between my “documented” sessions.  Call it “play”, active recovery, or what-have-you.  Of course I still huck the ol fix around the ATX whenever the opportunity exists (and it exists often here!!).

Rounds of each of these “workouts” were just scattered throughout the day; sometimes back-to-back-to-back rounds, sometimes hours between rounds.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I go into these sessions with no pre-programming per se.  The creative spark is ignited by seeing a loaded bar/implement, then matching that load/implement to a movement that “I haven’t done in a while”.  Working out in this “free-verse” fashion is very, very liberating indeed.  Word association of the day: Anthony Kiedis is to the Gershwins, as Theory to Practice’s “impromptu” workouts are to linear periodization  🙂

(A1) power cleans x 10

(A2) bodyweight chins x 20

(A3) bodyweight dips x 30

Rest pause as necessary in later rounds

(A1) single-arm “cred” with an Oly bar at 95#

(A2) bodyweight chins x 20

(A3) bodyweight dips x 30

Rest pause as necessary in later rounds

(A1) power cleans x 10 (heavier weight here; lots of triples, doubles and singles mixed-in)

(A2) ab wheel roll-outs x 20

(A3) dragonflies x 10 (mostly negatives)

Rest pause as necessary in later rounds

Oh, and be sure to check out the most recent (and most awesome) workout/Paleo meal pairing from Efficient Exercise’s resident exercise sommelier…me!  What do duck confit and power cleans have in common?  Plenty, my friend…plenty!

In health,


1/18/10, Strength-Endurance Emphasis – and a Cool Power Calculator

This was a hell of a lead-in to a new 50+ hour work week – a real ass-kicker.  My intent is to front-load this week in anticipation of a following week’s worth of not working-out at all – unless you count moving heavy furniture and appliances a workout.

Another one for the “simple in design, brutal in execution” category, if you get the weights dialed in correctly.  I could have used a few more pounds on the front squat, and completed the 21 reps in about the same amount of time, and with the same quality of reps.

Note: I am getting itchy to sprint – the weather (rain), work schedule and home sale hassles haven’t obliged, though.  Anyway, today’s workout:

  1. front squats: 135 x 5, 5; 175 x 3; 185 x 21 rest-pause method (3s up to ~ 18, then singles), lots of pop on each rep.  7:15 time to completion.  Well below parallel on all, drive through heel ==> Lift on your heels, play on your toes!
  2. reverse grip pull-ups: bw x 5, 5; 45 x 5; 75 x 21 rest-pause method, 3s and 2s, singles on the last 3.  Time to completion 5:05

Here’s a really cool and useful power calculator, from Catalyst Athletics.  Of course, there are some inherent limitations with this calculator, and it is intended to provide for only a relative, rather than exact, approximation of power output.  And I would not use this to compare person to person power outputs, as variables like bar travel distance cannot be specified, an appropriation of body weight is not accounted for, the eccentric portion of the lift is not accounted for, etc.  It is an appropriate and useful tool, though, if used in the right context.

Another option (and one that I generally employ), is to do a quick, meatball, power approximation.  As an example, let’s look over my last few progressions of reverse-grip pull-ups.  Note, here, that I’m excluding the priming sets in all instances in lieu of concentrating on “money” sets, and (as if the calculator above) I’m not considering the eccentric portion of the movement.  Also, I’m assuming that my bodyweight has not fluctuated from 209 lbs (otherwise, I would simply appropriate* my weight relative to the movement).  The per-movement distance does not change (full range of motion relative to my body configuration), and therefore can be eliminated from consideration.  I refer to the result as a bodyweight & modality appropriated power factor.  I can use this power factor (pf) as another comparision tool relative to the particular modality and energy system being trained.

12/31/09 –
70 lbs x 21 reps @ 5:30 (or 330 secs)
so, 1470 (70 lbs x 21 reps) /330 secs = 4.45

1/5/10 –
70 lbs x 21 reps @ 4:40
so, 1470 / 290 = 5.07

Now, going into today’s workout and with a weight of 75 lbs, I know that to beat my previous “best” power factor, I’ve got to get my 21 reps done at least 5:10
(unknown time) x (5.07 previous best pf) = (1575, or 75 lbs x 21 reps).  Let’s see how I did:

75 lbs x 21 reps @ 5:05
so, 1575 / 305 = 5.16

A little bit better than previous, though nothing to write home about.  I can say that the front squats were pretty damn taxing, and of course there’s no good way to account for that in this approximation.  Weighing effort-to-benefit, I’d say that I’ve ridden this particular movement/modality in this particular energy system pathway for just about as far as I can go.  This kind of evaluation serves, then, as just another factor – among a myriad of others – to consider when evaluating an exercise.  Use it appropriately, as another diagnostic tool in your Bat Belt.

*Appropriation is simply a method of assigning a certain percentage of one’s total body weight to be added to the total external loading of an exercise.  In other words, for any kind of pull-up, I’d assign an additional 95% of my bodyweight (199 lbs) to the total loading for the movement.  This is helpful in assigning per-movement dosing when a trainee’s bodyweight is fluctuating.  Each exercise carries such an approximation depending upon the amount of bodyweight that must be moved in the exercise.

12/21/09, Speed-Strength Emphasis

Before I delve into today’s workout, I’d like to share what I saw last night at my local Barnes and Nobel store.  I enjoy, from time to time, perusing the diet and fitness section of B&N just to get a feel for what the rest of the world is fixated on.  Hey, some people get their kicks from horror/slash-and-gore flicks. Me?  I trip on a stiff red-eye, and the latest version of the “grapefruit diet” or “vegetarian panacea”; to each his own, I suppose.  Anyhow, what I saw (or didn’t see, more appropriately) was one of a dozen or more copies of Susanne Summers’ latest book, Knockout completely hiding from view the single copy of Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories.  This is not a “knock” on Ms. Summers’ latest offering – Knockout may very well be a fine bit of investigative and informative journalism, backed by sound scientific interpretation – wholly on par with Taubes’ tour de force.  I have not read her work and therefore will withhold judgment.  But does this not encapsulate our society’s overall perception of diet, though?  To be sure, GCBC is not an easy read, but from a diet prospective, would you even really ever need another book?  Interesting notion.  Also observed: a single copy of Cordain’s The Paleo Diet and a single copy of Eades’ Protein Power.  A myriad of various Zone-esk type works gracing the shelves; more on Barry Sears’ Zone theory (vis-a-vis, Paleo) forthcoming. 

On to the the day’s workout.  I should preface this by saying that I had a pretty tough fixie ride and stadium sprint session on Sunday (I also reeled-off approximately 100 elevated-feet ballistic push-ups, 10 at a time, in between stair sprints/hops/bound variations).  The obvious question would then be, “why on earth do a pull/push workout following that?”   The short answer is that Sunday’s workout was largely quad dominant (biking, stadium runs) and upper-chest/shoulder-dominant (highly elevated feet during the ballistic push-ups).  Also, I closely auto-regulated myself during this morning’s bout to ensure that I hadn’t misjudged anything.  The warm-up consisted of jumps, ballistics and light plyos (no sprints), about 10 minute’s worth.  I’d also classify the first two sets here as “transition” sets.

  • vertical jump x 3
  • *SLDL low pull with jump (feet completely clear of the floor each rep):135 x 5, 5; 225 x 5; 255 x 4; 275 x 3, 3
  • ballistic dips x 3
  • weighted dips: 45 x 5, 7; 80 x 4; 90 x 3; 100 x 3, 3

Verts and ballistic dips prior to each “weighted” exercise as a cns prime.

*SLDL = straight leg deadlift.  Actually, for me, the positioning here is somewhere between an RDL and a full, knees-locked, SLDL.  Why this position?  An attempt at minimizing, as much as practicable, quadriceps engagement in the lift (especially out of the hole) – and conversely, maximizing glute/ham engagement from the bottom-out to bar-at-the-knees position.  Now you have to be careful here – when I use the term “explosive”, I don’t mean “out of control”.  The SLDL position is an awkward start for the explosive low pull, and necessitates a quick, but controlled lift from the floor until the bar clears the knees.  From there on it’s full speed ahead.  As always, initiate the jump from the heels, transferring to toe-off at the last moment.  Too early a shift to the balls of the foot/toes engages the quads and chokes off the posterior chain involvement.  And remember, the PC is the body’s power house; don’t cut it short.

Chris, at Conditioning Research, recently posted about the “relaxed knees SLDL”; “relaxed”, of course, being a relative term.  All I’ve done is add a low pull and toe-off to what is being demonstrated here.  And, by necessity, I shifted gears and redlined once the bar cleared my knees vs. maintaining a consistent speed as is being demonstrated in Chris’ clip – which is an example of this movement done as a strength emphasis modality.