“The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.” – Bertrand Russell
OK, so it’s been a while since I documented a run of workouts, so what better time to take a snapshot of things than Thanksgiving week? Actually, this turned out to be a fairly typical workout week for me, with lots of varied modalities and overall session intensity variability tossed into the mix.
A snapshot of last week’s workouts –
(A1) Powermax360 work: 30 seconds on, 15 off; 2 rounds
(A2) Eccentric Edge, leverage flat bench: 7 reps, max power output, no grind outs
4 total rounds.
(first workout) – whip snatch + 3 overhead squats: 10 total sets, working up from 135 to 150 lbs
(second workout, 2 hours later) – thrusters x 3 reps: 5 total sets, working up from 135 to 185 lbs
Lotsa fixie hucking 🙂
Thursday – Autoregulated lifts, with a decided power emphasis (i.e, reps were kept quick, with no grind-outs); 5 total rounds.
(A1) trap bar DLs: workup to 445 x2
(A2) Dips: workup to 95 x 5
(A3) free bar chins: workup to 95 x 3
Assessment: good day for dips, and so-so for chins. As for DLs? Meh… In defense of a sub-par DL showing though, this was a friggin’ tough-ass combo.
Sprint starts (30 yards) and limited monkey & parallel bar work (really feelin’ Thursday’s DLs — not much spring in the legs)
Sprints (100 yards, 8 x <15 seconds, 45 seconds recoverery) and heavy sandbag work — clean & press, snatch, totes, etc. (yikes! *Still* feeling those DLs!).
A rare day completely off — unless you count my wrestle with IKEA furniture assembly 🙂
And now for your viewing pleasure…
How about an up-close-and-personal preview of the venue that will serve as the anchor to this spring’s highly anticipated PFX12 symposium? Having been lucky enough to have been invited (as a personal guest of Ken “Transevolutionary Fitness” O’Neill) to the reception celebrating the official opening of the Stark Center’s Joe and Betty Weider Museum of Physical Culture, I can tell you that this place is just amazing to a dyed-in-the-wool Physical Culturalist like myself.
Anyway, you can get a feel for the scope and breadth of the facility via the short documentary and blog post, here. Oh, and as an added bonus, yours truly makes a cameo appearance at about mark 2:00. So does this mean that, since I’ve now rubbed elbows at such an event with the likes of Arnold, Boyer Coe, Larry Scott, Bill Pearl, Ronnie Coleman and Mark Henry, that my acting career will now skyrocket? 🙂 Heh; I wouldn’t hold your breath if I were you…
In other news, it looks like my man Anthony Johnson has this summer’s 21 Convention talks by Skyler and myself up and available now. The theme of Skyler’s presentation (link here, via Anthony’s blog) centers on training expectations over a lifetime; in other words, taking a long-range of your training efforts, and purposefully directing those efforts so as to positively affect the entirety of your life. As always, good stuff from my Efficient Exercise training brother-in-arms.
In my own presentation, I explore (among other various topics) the highly n=1 nature of health vs performance, and the often-times contradictory nature of chasing performance as a means of bolstering health. I’ll warn you ahead of time: if you’re looking for sound-bite answers, quick-fixes, or a one-size-fits-all template, I’m not your guy, and this won’t be your jam. The truth is, all I can define are general processes that are applicable to iron game pursuits. Cooking from a book will never make one a chef any more than will painting by numbers make one an artist. In the same way, training from a template will never make one a true Physical Culturalist. One must learn hints from others, then forge their own n=1 path.
The Vampire chronicles…
In an upcoming series of posts, I’ll be documenting my recent bloodwork draw, and what those lab numbers reveal. Nutritionist Holly L’Italien, from Austin’s Merritt Wellness Center will be doing some TTP guest posting as she hacks away at this kid’s bloodwork. I can tell you this: intelligent bloodwork analysis is a friggin Rubik’s Cube puzzle. Many, many mitigating and conflicting factors to consider. This should be interesting as hell, especially as my numbers are anything but straightforward. Stay tuned.
“Every man is the builder of a temple called his body.” – Henry David Thoreau
As a frequent Forum, with Michael Krasny listener, I was pleasantly surprised by the exceptional Ancestral Wellness literacy expressed in this recent show (Are Humans Meant for Monogamy?) by guest Christopher Ryan, psychologist and co-author of “Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality“. Ancestral Wellness acuity of this level is rarely encountered in the mainstream. Even mentions of vegetarianism in this show come with the caveat of “know your biological underpinnings and, if you still opt for a vegetarian diet, do so with this knowledge and take the necessary precautions”. In this way, Ryan compares monogamy with vegetarianism — no moral judgements, just sound precautions if you chose to operate outside of your genetic hard-wiring. Know thyself, then adjust accordingly so as to support your goals and wishes.
Hmmmm; where have you heard that before? 😉
Now this idea is as easy to parody as Paleo itself; however, Ryan isn’t advocating wanton hedonism, but rather, a need to know your genomic hard-wiring, and the hows-and-whys behind that hard-wiring’s development over our species’ existence.
Social networks and the innate human search for “spiritual meaning” (note: as opposed to religion), in my mind, are the missing — or at least, as yet unexplored — “third and forth rails” of the Ancestral Wellness movement. Knowing who we are, in terms of diet and exercise, in an evolutionary sense, forms the base upon which those of us within this movement craft a healthier, happier and fitter lifestyle. What’s missing, of course, is the societal and spiritual element. Living within the societal structures of our current, modern dictates is as much an anathema to our well-being as subsisting on a Standard American Diet, or negating the positive implications of movement/exercise in our lives. Neglecting our hard-wired need for “meaning” is just as corrosive.
Christopher Ryan suggests that the current economic situation may in fact drive some forward-thinking people to begin to form nascent “clans” (my word, not his), with both shared responsibility and shared fruits-of-labor. As necessity is the mother of invention — or in this case, re-discovery — this can only be viewed in a positive light vis-a-vis hunter-gatherer clans and their propensity toward egalitarianism. It will be interesting to see how governments deal with this scenario.
Ten-thousand-plus years of severe social conditioning, of course, won’t be scrubbed away in a mere generation or two. But as with all cutting-edge ideas, there will always be forward-thinking, early adopters. It is, in my mind at least, inevitable that the first “new clans” will emerge from this already egalitarian/libertarian minded Ancestral Wellness “sub-culture”; a sub-culture, by the way, that I am proud to be a member and vehement promoter of.
And hell, let’s go ahead and throw shamanism into the mix of ideas that were squelched/repressed/shamed a result of leaving behind the egalitarian, hunter-gatherer lifestyle as well. Few non-fiction books have rocked my world the way Graham Hancock’s awesome work, Supernatural, has. Totally mind-expanding, to say the least, in the way that Peter McWilliams’ work, Ain’t Nobody’s Business if You Do, skewed my political views (much further) toward practical libertarianism, way back in the day. Ditto for Peter McAllister’s Manthropology, in shaping my notions of the average Joe’s physical ability and work capacity.
Food, fitness, societal underpinnings and spirituality, taken together and as viewed form an evolutionary prospective, round-out the Ancestral Wellness model.
The return of the clan and the clan shaman are, in my estimation, are a much-anticipated inevitability. Sign me up for both.
A Weekend Fun and Frolic — on the field, in the parking lot and in the gym
Saturday: speed work –
(1) sprints: 6-seconds, self-timed, all-out and with full-recovery between reps. Autoregulated by distance, in that when I failed to attain max distance two times in a row, I pulled the plug. I think I ended-up getting about 10 efforts in, though I wasn’t trying to keep count. “Full recovery” equated to about two minutes between reps.
(2) dual-leg speed hop; 10 seconds for max distance. Same autoregulation idea as above. Again, roughly 10 attempts before reaching drop-off.
(3) dual-leg hop — tractor tire course. 8 tires dispersed randomly, but spaced so that I could hop in, out and between each tire so as to complete the course. Done fast as possible, but with no “double hops” or misses. 6 rounds, full recovery between rounds.
What’s the difference between speed and speed repeat (or speed endurance) work? Check out this article from Elite Fitness: What speed training really means. I can explain it no better than this. Nice work, Jon.
Sunday: sprint repeat (endurance) work –
Prowler pushes, farmers walks, all manner of sandbag clean & press, snatch variations and other such manifestations of tourture — just a friggin’ free-for-all throwdown with Skyler Tanner and PFX12’s mastermind Kevin Cottrell. Not a damn bit of it was quantifiable, although I was close to hurling at one point, so I guess that would qualify the session as “pretty intense” Chalk another one up for the axis-side of the old power-law curve 😉
And let me just say this: you can’t take these two friggin’ animals anywhere — just look at what the hell they did to my prowler during this workout…
Check out that right rear skid. What you can’t see is that the left rear skid is bent, too. Does this mean that the Paleo/HIIT crowd is tougher on equipment than those West Side powerlifting behemoths? Hmmmmm…… 🙂
…meanwhile, the ol’ prowler is in ICU. Damn, just after I got my bike off of the same such life support. Meh…
In the news…
This is either a boon for health, longevity, and the quality of life — or a major score for the pharmaceutical industry. Check out this story, from Big Think — The Man Who Was “Cured” of HIV. Now this certainly can work out to be the essence of Ancestral Wellness — combining the best of modern technology, with an underpinning of smart & solid Physical Culture. Without that solid underpinning, however, what science is creating is a class of customers beholden to the pharmaceutical industry not just for 75 years, but for 150 years. Cha-ching!
Eat the rich, my friends…or rather, let the rich eat themselves.
I know, I know; the idea of nutrient timing is not exactly Paleo in the most strict sense of the term, and certainly not part of the DeVany-esq, Evolutionary Fitness schema. If you’re a performance-driven athlete, however (or just an average Joe/Jane who habituates a frequent red-lining in the ol’ workout arena), adequate and well-timed pre and post-workout nutrition is crucial. Did Grok worry about all of this? Of course not — or at least we can argue that it was usually not the case that he attempted to manipulate his performance via nutrition thusly. However, Grok didn’t spend his nights peacefully slumbering on a comfy mattress either, or perform grueling rounds of power snatch/ring muscle-up supersets, avail himself to bloodwork analysis, hormone therapy, or the awesomeness of Joe Rogan podcasts…you get the idea. It’s the difference between merely surviving, and optimally thriving, my friends; sufficient as opposed to optimal. Anthropological evidence provides but one tool (albeit a very important tool) within the total “thriving” workshop. It’s up to each individual then to flesh-out the remainder of his/her own workshop’s tool cache, and acquire that craftsman’s collection of n=1-derived methods, techniques and specialty tools to be used in creating a personalized expression of phenotypical excellence.
Drs John Ivy and Robert Portman have put together what I consider to be the classic treatise on optimal nutritional timing in their aptly-titled book, Nutrient Timing. Hat tip to Ken O’Neill, of Trans-Evolutionary Fitness, for tuning me in to John Ivy’s work. Now my personal pre and post-workout formulations may vary somewhat from the recommendations put forth by Drs Ivy and Portman — mostly due to my belief (outdated?) that the synergy of whole foods trump the conglomeration of individual, deconstructed constituents — but I do follow the spirit of the nutrient timing argument put forth by the good doctors…
…that is, most times 🙂
…and I am more than willing to consider that my gut notion of whole foods’ superiority to “scientifically” reconstituted constituent components is flawed. It has been my experience, though, that Mother Nature’s intelligence in these matters always prevails. Of course this simply may be a matter of degree, in which case one must ask if the miniscule gain of constituent recombination is worth the additional hassle and stress. You can see how this argument can quickly pigtail into the dreaded paralysis-by-analysis vortex.
At any rate, the down-and-dirty on nutrient timing is this: your muscles are uber-primed for nutrient uptake immediately following a bout of strenuous exercise. The window of opportunity for capitalizing on this phenomena is only open, though, for approximately 2 hours (and more precisely, 45-minutes) post-throwdown. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty details of why hitting this window is so important from a performance point-of-view (in a nutshell, it has everything to do with optimum recovery), as the book does an excellent job of spelling this out quite precisely. Also, checkout this, The International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand on nutrient timing. Long story short, though, what I can tell you is this: throughout my training career I have experimented with various post-workout timing schemes — sometimes of my own doing, and sometimes as a result of circumstances beyond my control. But in all cases, it has been my experience that hitting the 45-minute post workout window with smartly pinpointed nutrition has resulted in superior recovery results. And, in my experience, these results have been far superior to the recovery benefits of, for example, post-workout contrast showers/ice baths and the like. Results, mind you, attained from a practice that is much more practical from a sustainable application standpoint; you might not have the time-luxury, or access to, a post-workout ice soak, sports massage, or what-have-you, but most have the time to put together and down a smartly concocted, post-workout drink.
This needn’t be overly complicated to be effective, either (lowfat chocolate milk anyone?). And hey, don’t have all the ingredients on-hand every time out? Don’t sweat it bro, neither do I most times. I’m notoriously bad about not restocking items until I’m completely out. Anyway, here’s my simple, post-workout mix:
And hey, if you haven’t already, please checkout my interview with Angelo — who, by the way, is a true professional in every sense of the word. Some of what we talked about:
Diet & fitness
getting started with a fitness routine
Efficient Exercise and CrossFit; compare and contrast
MovNat vs. HIIT
One of the many techniques that I employ with my clients, and utilize in my own training, involves the use of pre-exhaust methods prior to moving into heavy, compound movements. Methods of pre-exaust abound of course, but essentially (and for my purposes) fall into two broad categories — use of isolation exercises to target individual muscle(s) and/or the use of zone training techniques (Jreps, partials, ect.) which allow for significant inroading via the use of lighter weights (read, “easy on the joints”). Here, for example, is one of my lower-body workouts from last week:
(A1) hip press, utilizing a zone training/Jrep scheme
(A2) Russian leg curls; again, utilizing a zone training/Jrep scheme
(B1) front squats , working up in load from what I could handle in the 7 rep range, on down to a 3-rep grind.
I split the hip presses and leg curls into 2 zones each (high and low), and blitzed each zone to failure using Jrep techniques (essentially employing piston-like, “pumping” repetitions with an eye toward achieving maximum pump and burn in the target musculature). After 2 rounds of that, my legs were essentially toast. Then, with those already blistered wheels, I dove into the first of what ended-up being a 5-set battle with front squats. The beauty of this is that my hips, knees, ankles — along with all the soft tissue support in those areas — were already more than warm, blood-nourished, and ready to go — AND the weight necessary to elicit a full-on, ball-busting effort was, as you might well imagine, reduced. But, surprisingly though, not by all that much (about 30 lbs off of what I would normally handle in the 3-rep range?). The result was a total friggin’ lower body throwdown fest without, however, the joint ache (and following day stiffness) usually associated with a heavy compound movement session. Note that this is much, much more than just effectively “warming-up” prior to delving into the heavy stuff — this is achieving significant (and isolated) muscular inroad prior to even beginning the compound (whole-body, synergistic) movement. Combining this method of pre-exhaust prior to jumping into an ARX movement is also something I like to employ, and for the same reasons stated above.
My Efficient Exercise brother-in-arms has written a masterful piece, here, related to the relationship between training and sport specificity, and the sometimes (oftentimes?) inadvertent, inappropriate, confusing/commingling of these two, distinct endeavors. And this is more than just mere semantics, or word-play slight -of-hand. For example, CrossFit is the sport of strength and conditioning, just as Olympic weightlifting is the sport side of all those cool Oly-derrivative (i.e., “power”, etc.) moves. Know your goals, and train (and specify, if need be) as required. A timely post, especially with this year’s CrossFit games (which I loved, BTW) fresh in everyone’s mind.
…I feel like a wet seed wild in the hot blind earth…
That’s William Faulkner, whose birthday was Sunday. And who, together with Cormac McCarthy, have produced all the literature I’ll ever really need. All else, while nice enough, is simply superfluous.
And speaking of “a hot wild seed in the blind earth”, check out this picture that my good friend, Tico Ramirez, dug up from God-knows-where:
Left to right: Your’s truly, Tico Ramirez, Marty Martinez. Freshman year; 14 and clueless…
Funny story about that 77 number I’m sporting here. Seems as if I was on a big Red Grange kick at the time (possibly my first meaningful foray into history?), and figured that if Red could be a stud running back, and sport an oh-so-cool, iconic 77, well then so the hell could I. I badgered the living crap out of our head coach until he relented and let me wear a number that, due to my being a running back, required me to get a “referee waver” (or some such) prior to each game. I definitely remember there being a per-game performance clause attached to my wearing that particular number; smart coach. Properly correlated and applied, incentives give us something to bite into, something to focus upon, and provide just the right nudge when the going gets tough.
Sprint repeats? Check. Deadlifts? Check. Ring muscle-ups? Ugh…
Not without help, big guy. Better get to work...
So this past week — and continuing with the touchstones theme that I covered here — I decided to check-in on my deadlift and ring muscle-up performance. At a body weight of 210 lbs, I cranked-out a crisp 7 reps at 435. Not bad, for me, at least, on sprint and cycling-weary legs. Muscle-ups on the rings, though, were another story. My touchstone here is three, with no jump-assist, and with good, smooth form. That I required jump assist on every rep indicates that I need to get back on the rings, and that straight bar muscle-ups (which I can fairly well knock out) just don’t compare in level of difficulty. But, hey — no failures, only feedback, right? Did it matter that on this particular day I decided to couple power snatches and ring muscle-ups in a super-set format for multiple rounds? Nah, I don’t think so. The press-up and lock-out portion of the move was fine — what killed me was the pull-up; felt like I was pulling up through a tub of molasses. The prescription? A slow build-up back to full-on ring muscle-ups. I should be back is the saddle by this November 10th — my 47th birthday 🙂 Incentive? Like fine wine, I want to continually get better at the finer aspects of fitness.
The Sunday MetCon
Another great day to get out of the gym and onto the track/field.
5 x 30 second all-out sprint for distance (approximately 200 meters). Full recovery between sprints. Hit drop-off on the 5th sprint. Then:
1. tire flip x 10 (8, then 7 on subsequent rounds)
“I’d rather live with a good question than a bad answer.” – Aryeh Frimer
I like to revisit certain performance markers every now and again throughout the ebb and flow of the training season; markers that, over the years, I have been able to correlate, at least within myself, to a well-rounded athleticism. These are not, mind you, performance maxes or PRs. In other words, these markers are not the result of a performance driven by a particular dedicated and pin-pointed focus, but rather a performance indicator that, in a well-rounded athletic sense, things are as they should be; that no excessive imbalance exists between speed, strength and sprint repeat endurance. In fact, I use such touchstones as an indication that any dedicated focus that I might be engaged in hasnot resulted in the degradation of another, “competing” factor. For instance, pushing a max squat number at the expense of (in my case, at least), sprinting and/or repeat speed or performance. Conversely, I know that a nice, snappy, 7 rep 2xBW deadlift, while I’m in the throes of sprinting/saddle-time season, is a good indication that I’m still good-to-go in the weight room.
15 under 15 and in 15
…or, as they were affectionately known back in the day, simply “15’s”…
Hard as it is to believe now days, collegiate football players of the early 1980’s actually went back home during the summers and (the Brian Bosworth‘s and SMU‘s of college football notwithstanding) worked legitimate — and in my case, heavy-ass, manual labor — jobs over the summer break. The coaching staffs at that time sent players home with the parting message that said jocks better (insert filthy string of pejoratives) return “in shape and ready to play”, lest they face some unspecified, but decidedly heinous, form of public castration. In our case, said punishment would surely be performed in front of a full assembly of cheering Strutters.
Nothing like a little incentive.
And still, few paid the threat any mind. Oh to be 20 and bullet proof once more 🙂
At any rate, every August, upon returning to camp in preparation for the upcoming season, linebackers, strong safeties*, and tight ends were expected to be able to reel-off 15 100-yrd sprints, all in less than 15 seconds each, with a 45 second recovery before the start of the next sprint. Nothing superhuman here of course, but pulling this off does reveal a decent, base level of repeat sprint endurance. Something to work with, something from which to build upon. And I still use it as a yardstick test today. Other, more accurate measures of sprint repeat endurance could surely be argued for, but this simple (on paper anyway!) test is at once a great workout in-and-of-itself, and pretty decent measure of fitness.
I’d just like to report that I passed this test with flying colors this past Sunday, just as I did every August during my career. Yeah, I was one of those guys, even back then. One of those middling talent guys who had to “train” their way onto the playing field.
*note –that strong safties were considered “small, fast, linebackers” is, in itself, telling of a bygone era; defenses designed for a single purpose — to stop the option.
Since I have no specific athletic or body composition goal in mind — other than chasing the fullest, most well-rounded expression of my phenotype — I’m at liberty to explore, to the widest extent, the speed-strength continuum and the force-velocity curve. In English? I get to dabble with my workouts, mix it up; have fun and do what I feel like doing on a particular day, versus worrying about what I need to accomplish to realize a specific goal. Life is all about balance, and I’ve had plenty of periods in my life where my training, out of the necessity of chasing a specific goal, was much more directed and pin-pointed. Now is not one of those times. Now is a period of — for lack of a more perfect term — loosely controlled chaos.
To illustrate my point, consider this 3-day snapshot of time from last week:
Thursday: power cleans; working up to 7x max singles. The work-ups were performed over an approximate 4-hour period, between client training sessions, with the 7 singles coming in a continuous, 20-minute or so, time block.
Friday: a traditional, bodybuilding-like, arm routine; supersets of bi and tri work — in this case, straight bar bi curls and cable push downs — with each movement range of motion performed in two different “zones” in a basic JRep methodology.
Saturday: a little bit of MetCon fun; 4 rounds of a front squat/farmer’s walk combo. This clip is kinda dark, but you get the idea.
Big hat tip to Meesus TTP for filming this immediately following her own Efficient Exercise-style, total-body dust-up. Way to be a gamer, my darling!
Oh, and be sure to check-out this recent post from Scott Abel, Adhering to Real World Principles: Understanding Max Load Training. There are no bad training methodologies, just bad applications of existing methodologies. Know what it is you’re trying to affect, and choose the appropriate method.
And finally, here are a couple of clips (here and here) of some our Efficient Exercise “trainer training the trainer” series; something we hope to do more of in the near future. These two are an example of some mixed methodology training — in this case, some classic pre-exhaust (using basic some basic zone and JReps concepts, here), followed by a complex movement using ARX Fit technology. ARX equipment allows for some severe envelope-pushing under fatigue, as one need not worry with mishandling the load. Good, good stuff. Of course, there are many ways (and arguments for each) in coupling the exercises in the 2nd clip; I chose to end this particular routine with triceps, though one could easily argue for pre-exhausting the tris prior to delving into the overhead press. The “pick a horse and ride” analogy works well in this case 🙂
Not complaining, just sayin’, you know; 106-degrees F at the time I performed this little sprint routine, on the way to the day’s high of 111. No telling how friggin’ hot it was out on the artificial turf; let’s just say it was blazingly so. But hey, like CJ says — deal with the Devil and his constituency, and roll the hell on… 🙂
Here we go –
– knee to chest jumps for max height, as little a pause as possible between jumps. x 7 reps
– dual leg hops x 30 yds (90 feet), fast as possible and covering the distance in as few hops as possible (again, utilizing the drop-off technique, here).
– “drum major” (stiff-leg) sprint x 40 yards.
Wash, rinse, repeat for 6 rounds. Sweat a ton, get a bit queasy, lounge like a lizard the rest of the day.
A few notes on this one:
I’d originally intended to push until hitting drop-offs in both the dual-leg hops and the sprints — however, I pulled the plug after hitting drop-off in the hops only; discretion being the better part of valor today, due to the heat. I probably had another 2 or three top-end sprints in the tank.
I covered right at 80 yards in each 10 second sprint today; self-timed, on turf, standing start. Not bad for an old goat.
I covered the 90 ft distance in 11 dual-leg hops today, with the last round requiring an additional jump.
about 30 seconds recovery between exercises, except for following the 10-second sprint and the dual-leg hops, in which case there was an approximate 1 minute recovery.
Where does something like this fall on the Exercise-Activity spectrum? Well, again, one man’s “play” is another man’s workout; the dividing line between the two, for me, is predominant fast-twitch fiber involvement. I’ll get into this a little more in future posts, but a decided lack of fast-twitch fiber involvement in an activity makes that activity of little value in enhancing/preserving muscle tissue and, therefore, in helping one battle against the scourge of sarcopenia specifically and, more broadly, diseases of affluence.
Plenty of fast-twitch activation here, so we’ll bump this one near the “exercise” end of the spectrum.
“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 😉
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 🙂
And speaking of crazy…
A *serious* meeting of the minds 😉
Okay, so it wasn’t all furrowed-brow and free of levity 😉 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 – who I’ve been devouring ever since being introduced to his work via my AHS 2011 co-presenter, Skyler Tanner – speaks of evolution as a process of transcendence and inclusion; exactly the process by which PC (Physical Culture) 2.0 will “evolve” 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 (“transcending” in every sense of the word) that which has come before; even that which we might be quick to label “malicious” at best — 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…
…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.
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.
I write this as I’m taking a break from putting the finishing touches on my upcoming 21 Convention presentation and, concurrently, reading Rebecca Costa’s The Watchman’s Rattle (heh, who says old-schoolers can’t multitask, huh?). The Watchman’s Rattle is just a fantastic read; really tough to put down. Just as Peter McAllister’s Manthropology reaffirmed my contention that any serious foray into pushed-limits Physical Culture must be made from a well-established, rock-solid base of GPP (General Physical Preparedness), and that we as a species are capable of acclimating to and/or developing — and even thriving under — a tremendous work capacity, so does Ms. Costa’s work remind me that any step toward singularity is a step toward extinction. This is true whether we’re speaking of an eco-system, a species as a whole, or an individual within a species. Also, being that (1) nature is a hell of a lot smarter than we are, and (2) we are an uber-successful species precisely because of our collective differences, opportunistic abilities, and individual variability, it stands to reason that, for a training program and diet regimen to be successful, it must (1) be n=1 compensated/continually adjusted, and (2) that no individual training program will be successful across a broad spectrum of trainees, nor will a single program/methodology/modality be the single “silver bullet”, be-all, end-all for an individual trainee. No, not even P90X 😉
Whew…now that was a mouthful!
That said, when we consider the absolute necessity for diversity within a species as an indicator of that species’ potential for success, is it any wonder, then, that we have so many paths to obtaining optimum health and longevity — not to mention performance prowess?
For example, check-out Carl Lanore’s interview (#771) of Brooks Kubic regarding old-time strongman Joe Rollino, who lived to be a vibrant 104 years old and who died, not of disease, but by being run-over by a friggin’ minivan. Joe was also a devout vegetarian his entire life. Runs counter to our Paleo sensibilities, huh? I don’t mention this as a slam to the Paleo lifestyle (which, of course, I adhere to myself, and evangelize about to anyone who will listen), or to kick-up any Vegetarian vs Paleo shit-storm, but more as a call to, above all else, know thyself.
…and Know Your “Basecamp”
Elemental to establishing one’s self firm-footedly within the Physical Culture scene — not to mention staying in the game for the long run — is knowing just who you are as a unique, total package (physical, mental, spiritual) genotypical and phenotypical expression. This goes way beyond somatyping, though that is as good a place as any to begin this ongoing journey of self-discovery.
I’ve written about Charles Poliquin’s take on this in a previous post, but the idea needs to be driven home, as it is absolutely essential to on-going success in the Physical Culture game. The key is to find, then operate, for the most part out of, that “basecamp”. This is not to say that you should never venture away from that — on the contrary! You should make frequent forays/”scouting missions” out from camp so as to (1) extend and push yourself and, (2) make yourself stronger via diversification.
Using myself as a quick example, I know that I’m mostly mesomorph in build, and that I thrive under a higher-than-normal intensity/volume/frequency mix. I also flourish under much variety, and will get vary stale with a lack thereof. As an athlete, I was neither the fastest of the fast, nor strongest of the strong, but I could perform repeat bursts of near-max intensity forever with very little drop-off in speed and/or strength and power. What absolutely crushes me, though are powerlifting-like, raw, grind-it-out workouts in the 1-3 rep range. Move me back down into the middle (power zone) speed-strength and strength-speed portion of the speed/strength continuum, though, and I’m right back in my element — and a happy camper! This is not to say, though, that I avoid at all costs doing raw strength work — on the contrary, I do — I just know my limitations, and know that I can’t handle too much of it. On the exact opposite side of the spectrum, I can better handle high volume work — classic GVT or Gironda-like protocols, much better, though still not as good as intense bouts of power-oriented work. Each individual, though, has to find his own basecamp, and set-up operations accordingly.
More on this at the 21 Convention.
One more thing, though, as it relates to the on-going practice of self-discovery. It seems to me that many people attack this problem with too much left-brain empasis. In other words, from a Quant-centered, science-obsessive, numbers-driven prospective. This has much to do with the Western tendency to poo-poo the creative, intuitive process. But know this: you cannot be broken down into a simple (or even highly complex) mathematical schema of any sort, and if you’re waiting for science to hand you the best workout and/or diet protocol for your particular situation, you’re going to be waiting for one hellova long time. From the recent and most excellent Big Think post, You Are Not an Equation:
…Faced with the undeniable global and personal anxieties that characterize our age, we should be deeply skeptical of premature solutions based on science that cannot yet deliver what its sales representatives promise.
I’ve mentioned my good friend (and Physical Culturalist extraordinaire) Ken O’Neill numerous times in this blog, and now Ken has a blog of his own — Trans-Evolutionary Fitness. Ken is an erudite elder in the Physical Culture game — more a contemporary of Art DeVany than a young whipper-snapper like me 😉 Just a tremendous resource to have here in central Texas, the epicenter of the new Physical Culture.
Anyway, be sure to check out Ken’s work — as well as the numerous articles he’s written for Iron Man magazine; I can assure you the content of his blog will be deep and thought-provoking. Here’s an example snippet from his July 15th post:
…Physician Jonas Salk, developer of polio vaccine, held that we should be entering a new stage of evolution – one he called meta-biological evolution – and that the direction of evolution must become survival of the wisest. Our genius untempered by wisdom has created myriad tools threatening survival of the species, indeed of the living planet. While evolution has created an embodied human mind of incomprehensible potential, we have barely scratched the surface regarding its nature, uses, and directions for development as the humans we might become…
Let’s look at some workouts from the past week, shall we?
(A1) tire flips x 10 (covers about 25 yards), then immediately sprint the long balance of the football field.
(A2) High hurdle hops x 7
(A3) dual-leg hop sprints with interspersed tire hops x 50 yards.
Four rounds of this. Found that it takes a total of 42 tire flips to cover 100 yards, ergo, the last round consisted of 12 flips. Thought I was going to heave a lung following 12 flips + a 100 yard sprint 🙂 Followed this with monkey bar and parallel bar work, all in the 100 + degree central Texas heat. Sane? I dunno, but it was fun! Yee-haw!
“A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that’s unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein
Heh; OK, so you thought I’d fallen off the edge of the earth, huh? Well, not exactly; it’s just that I’ve just been dedicating most of my spare time toward prepping my presentations for this summer’s upcoming 21 Convention in Orlando, and the Ancestral Health Symposium in LA. What little time I have had for leisure reading as of late has been directed toward (on the recommendation of my good friend Ken O’Neill, of Smart Fit) Peter McAllister‘s Manthropology, and a couple of 1985 editions of The Coaching Association of Canada’s “Science Periodical On Research and Technology in Sport”; in particular, Strength Training Part I (Classification of Methods), and Part II (Structural Analysis of Motor Strength Qualities and its Application to Training).
For an overview of McAllister’s fine book — and a bit of fascinating follow-on audience Q&A with the author, checkout thisfora.tv presentation. If there were any lingering doubts in your mind as to whether the agricultural revolution has been a complete and utter disaster vis-a-vis mankind’s robust nature (the male, specifically), this work should once-and-for-all nullify those doubts. And if any doubts remained as to whether the human genome has suffered as a consequence of (1) a lack of “herd thinning”, and (2) a general and substantial decline in the required day-to-day “honing and hardening” of the genome, this should eliminate those doubts as well.
It has been my long-standing belief that we (trainees) can not only acclimate to — but indeed thrive under — a much greater work capacity than we (society in general; the S&C community in particular) currently give ourselves credit for. This book goes a long way toward substantiating that notion. Greek trireme rowers offer a perfect meme for this idea of a robust general citizenry’s work capacity. A greater work capacity allows a trainee to spend more productive time actually training (general S&C, or sport-specific), simple as that. Think of work capacity as GPP (general physical preparedness) writ large.
Although I certainly (and highly) respect the work of Art DeVany and Doug McGuff, I do have to respectively disagree with them on the point of hunter-gatherer’s average daily energy expenditure, and hence, modern man’s toleration for (relatively) high-frequency bouts of intense exercise.
A quick interlude is in order here. I take the point of view that looking to modern hunter-gatherer societies is not a particularly good example of our true genetic potential vis-a-vis inherent work capacity. Modern HG’s simply do not face the same predatory fears that our more distant relatives faced on a day-to-day basis. I picture bands of stone age HGs constantly pursuing migrating game while at the same time themselves being pursued by predators. No time to lounge and eat figs between infrequent hunts for these HGs. Man as the Hunted-Gatherer is the scenario that makes much more sense to me. That means bursts of high power output, yes — but those bursts were interspersed within a constant, and continual movement/migration, rather than idleness.
Art, Doug and myself do, however, agree on the ridiculously small amount of intense exercise required to maintain a person’s general health. What I’m speaking of here is pushing the performance envelope while ensuring that health remains optimum — in other words, the other side of the health-performance curve.
“Heath” of course, is a multifaceted, ever-evolving concept; one thing we can agree on, though, is that the definition of health as being the mere absence of disease is, well…lame. We’re smarter than that, and demand more than the “vacuum definition”, pedestrian take.
I’ll flesh this idea out a bit more at the 21 Convention, but essentially “health” is a balance between, one the one hand, maintaining optimum internal parameters (blood profiles, inflammation markers, organ and joint robustness, etc.), and on the other, maximizing one’s ability to both produce, and absorb, force — in other words (and if we introduce a time element here, which we must as we live in the “real world”), the ability to generate and absorb power under various and unpredictable, “real life” scenarios. The “various and unpredictable, ‘real life’ scenarios” part implies that there is a certain environmental and ontological context which must also be considered. Ours is a world mostly free of predators and, in general, one that requires less “honing and hardening” in order to survive. What is considered “healthy” or robust today, however (no matter how spot-on the internal markers might be) would simply not pass muster in Greek society 2,000 years ago. And although those Greek trireme rowers were undoubtedly GPP standout, power-producing machines, one can only speculate as to the state of their internal bio-markers of health. Health and performance is, as are most things in life, a delicate balance against a backdrop of the “unknown and unknowable”.
On the bright side, though, if one assumes a 100,000 year timeframe for most gene mutations to take hold (yeah, yeah, I know — I said most), there is hope. Get your diet squared-away, folks, and bust your ass (intelligently!!) in the gym and in the great outdoors — do your part to put a squelch on this downward slide of man! Become the phenotypical expression your genetic forefathers would be proud to claim!
And a quick aside: here’s a great post on the subject of overtraining (as opposed to under-recovery) — and yes, there is a big difference between the two. And just how does one boost recovery ability? Apart from the obvious (following sound nutritional practices, sleep patterns, and reducing chronic stressors), you’ve got to increase your GPP. It’s the dirty little secret one one wants to talk about. Plain and simple, enhanced performance does not come easy — if you want it, you have to work diligently (though, intelligently) for it. How do I prevent slowdowns due to overuse injury (the tendonitis example in the linked post)? I conjugate — constantly vary — my workouts. My body knows no ruts.
As for those cica 1985 documents — wow! The author is Dr. Dietmar Schmidtbleicher, University of Frankfurt — translated to English by none other than Charles Poliquin. My initial thought upon reading these was, no wonder the Germans (east and west) were so friggin’ dominant in international competition. These things read as if they were written in 2011. Amazing…
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Presenting the “health/performance continuum” concept to the lay public
The following clip is of me recently addressing a small group of professionals, none of whom (save for one) have anything at all to do with the fitness industry. The topic is the general public’s misconception of the relatedness of athletic prowess to general health.
So I’m trying to whittle this particular off-the-cuff presentation topic down to a solid, professional, 10 to 15 minute deck-plate spiel. And remember, this is addressing the lay public here, and my main objective is to get them to reconsider the definition of “healthy”, and the requirements for maintaining health (by way of commitment — as measured, especially so in time expenditure), and their notions of “health” as it relates to athletic prowess.
Suggestions/critique towards that end would be greatly appreciated. It’s hard for me, sometimes, to think back to a time when I, too, considered extreme athleticism to be analogous to health. I had to actually travel the path to figure this out on my own; surely this misconception can be nipped in the bud — especially so, in young, aspiring athletes. But, too, in those who consider the super human exploits of these athletes, and then think to themselves, “well, I can never do that, ergo, I can never be healthy — so why the hell even attempt?”
Changing this paradigm will be one small step toward changing what is now a world-wide health care crisis. Something I plan on discussing in LA this August.
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Workouts? Oh hell yeah! Here are a few…
Creative uses for the EZ curl bar; Creds (aka, the single-arm snatch)