A Post-Ride Paleo Meal, a Workout, and a Couple of Thoughts

To diet is to suffer, right? Uh-huh, yeah...right...

So this is what I chowed-down on Sunday evening, following a rather long day spent in the fixie saddle.

What you see here is a 1 lb, applewood smoked ham steak, from my good friends at Greene County North Carolina’s Rainbow Meadow Farms.  You can’t really tell from the photo, but that good-tastin’ bad boy takes up the entire bottom of the plate.  At the 5 o’ clock position there is a little bit of Tropical Tradition’s Atchara (fermented papaya); tasty and highly recommended.  And that’s a stir fry of chopped broccoli, red and green cabbage, carrots, green peppers, radish and celery there on top, obscuring the real size of the ham stake.  I “fried” the steak – actually, I just seared each side, as it was already smoked – prior to tossing in the veggies so that I’d have olive oil and the ham drippings to stir fry with; damn it made those veggies taste fantastic!  And the contrast with the fermented papaya was out of this world.

I also spent quite a bit of time in the saddle on Friday and Saturday as well.  It will be interesting to see how I integrate, after my move to Austin, what I anticipate to be much more of biking and running (sprinting)-centered lifestyle, with my weight training.  Of course, I will have the tremendous advantage of having access to varied and state-of-the-art equipment at Efficient Exercise, so I’ll be able to intensify my workouts, and thereby shorten my actual gym time.

I also plan on finally piecing together a full garage gym.  Anyone in the Austin area looking to unload some bumper plates, Oly bars, and plyo boxes, be sure and look me up  🙂

Ok, so here’s what I did in the gym on Saturday evening, on the tail-end of that day’s extended fixie session:

DB snatch (aka, the Cred) + single-arm split jerk: (reps listed are per-arm) 65 x 3; 75 x 3; 85 x 2; 95 x 1; 100 x 1; 105 x 1, 1, 1.  Missed the left-side jerk on the 1st and 3rd attempt; 2nd attempt wasn’t pretty, but it was a “green lighter”.   Made all three attempts on the right side.  Hopefully once I get resettled I can get some clips of this movement to post.  It’s one of my favorite combination movements but, unfortunately a combination that’s rather difficult to explain; one of those things that’s much better shown than discussed.

following that, I shifted into Mentzer-esk mode with the following –

Atlantis pull-down machine: 350 lbs x ~10 reps (5,0,5,0 tempo) to positive failure, then 3 cheat concentrics + “extended” negatives.  By “extended” I mean that the first round was about 8 secs, roughly 6 or so for the second, and the third was an ugly 3 or 4 second negative.  Holy lat and bicep pummel, Batman.  Total TUL was approximately 135 seconds.

… moved right along then to the following pre-exhaust pairing:

Atlantis pec-deck: 180 lbs x ~ 10 reps (5,0,5,0 tempo) to positive failure + an approximate 8 second static “push”.  ~ 60 seconds TUL

then immediately to:

Atlantis machine flat press: 180 lbs (5,0,5,0 tempo) to positive failure, followed by 3 forced reps + extended negatives.  I lost count of reps, here – but really, though, that doesn’t matter so much, as I know what the total TUL was (approx. 75 seconds).

Again, it’s much, much better to perform this method of training with either a great partner (and one who’s not checkin’ out the babes on the stair-steppers), or a trainer who’s well versed in HIT applications…and who is also not checkin’ out the babes on the stair-steppers.  We do the best we can with the options we have, though.

Depth vs Spin –

I’ve long considered Seth Godin as one of amongst a very small group of individuals (including Rob Bell, and Clay Shirky for example) who totally “get” the new social construct, and Seth’s recent post, How long before you run out of talking points? is another in a long list of the guy’s outta-the-park hits.

Those of us who immerse ourselves in the world of Physical Culture are especially sensitive to all of the “spin” and surface-level (at best) understanding that’s unleashed upon the public on a daily (hourly?) basis.  Just listen to all the “leading authorities” on this subject or that; the total lack of knowledge/understanding displayed is shocking.  And unfortunately, this is the window through which the vast majority of the population “sees” Physical Culture.  Is there any wonder as to why our society in embroiled in the heathcare crisis that it is?  The real wonder is why we’re not actually worse off than what we are.  I guess I should concentrate more on “H8’n the game, not the playuh”, but things such as Shape Ups and the Cookie Diet just ain’t gonna cut the most direct path to to an exemplary expression of Physical Culture, folks.

“When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.”

As a correlate to “Depth vs Spin” idea – and certainly applicable to the realm of Physical Culture — is the notion of following one’s intuition and intelligence to gather knowledge, and what, for that matter, the true definition of “knowledge” is to begin with.

Seth Roberts recently posted this piece, “A World Suppressing the Uniqueness Inside Each of Us” in which he references this fabulous Valedictorian address purportedly given by Erica Goldson during the graduation ceremony at Coxsackie-Athens High School, on June 25, 2010.  Now whether this was truly a Valedictorian address or not, I can’t be sure of.  What I am sure of, though, is that the message is *spot-friggin’-on*.  And not only is this is the case in “education”, writ large, but the same can be said of diet, health, and fitness writ large — the totality of what I term “Physical Culture”.  Take an n=1 approach toward achieving your own ultimate phenotypical expression.  Keep both eyes on the path; the destination will take care of itself.

MetCon for Sprinters, and Some Unilateral Work

This workout actually took place yesterday (2/20/10), but I wound-up not having a chance to post it due to being tied-up with work issues.  The way the day shaped-up created a nice little n=1 study.  A tough workout, performed in a fasted state, followed by very little food – how would I hold-up?  Well, very well as it turns out – and this morning, as I write this, I’m still not all that hungry.  I could eat, sure – but I’m not at the point where I have to eat, if you know what I mean.

First, let’s look at the workout itself.  The following took place at approximately 14 hours fasted:

The “MetCon for Sprinters” portion of the workout –
4 rounds of this, with the only rest resulting in the moving between work stations:

DB snatch + single arm press, push-press and push-jerk – (x number of db snatches with the right arm, followed by the right arm press, push-press, push-jerk complex, immediately followed by the same with the left side).

DB snatch (R) DB Snatch (L) Press Push-Press Push-Jerk
60 lbs        5                            5                                                1                   1                        1
70 lbs        5                            5                                                1                   1                        1
80 lbs        5                            5                                                1                   1                        1
80 lbs        5                            5                                                1                   1                        1

Straight Bar Muscle-Ups –
bodyweight x 3, 3, 2, 2

Ab Wheel Roll-Outs (minimal knee/thigh ground contact) –
7 on each of the four rounds

So four rounds of that got the blood pumping nicely, to say the least.  Then I moved on to some unilateral work, 3 rounds of a single-led deadlift, pistol squat superset complex.  I haven’t done pistols in quite a while, and what I found was rather surprising –  while my left leg pistol was fine (good balance, good strength), my right leg was absolutely pathetic – my movement pattern sucked, balance was off, and, as one might expect from that combination, my strength was non-existent.  On the upside however, at least I now know exactly where the kink in the ol’ armor resides.  I have no idea, though, why this imbalance developed.  The only thing that I can point to is that in the last three years I have been in a working environment that is mostly sedentary.  Maybe that’s it, I don’t know.  I do know, though, that from what I saw in the pistols, I must be essentially one-legging (with scant help from my right leg) all my bilateral, lower-body movements.  At least I’m aware of it now, and I can work on getting that flaw fixed.  Anyway, 3 rounds of single-leg deadlifts (with 70 lb DBs x 7 reps each leg, and same knee-bend angle as in this clip) in a superset with 3 rounds of bodyweight Pistol Squats, 8 reps each leg, each round.   Left leg could have used substantial added weight, and I needed balance help (especially past parallel) on the right leg.  Wow.  Lots of work needed here.  Note that the single-leg deadlift clip depicts a trainee performing a reaching single-leg DL version, though I did mine in the more conventional fashion, i.e arms perpendicular to the floor at the bottom of the movement.

So anyway, after a a couple rounds of steam room/cold shower contrasts, I cleaned-up and ran by the house for some Trader Joe’s brand Greek Yogurt (full fat, of course – and good stuff, by the way), along with a couple of handfuls of a pecan/walnut mix.  I then went on in to work for an engineering evolution that I expected to take about 4-hours; as it happened, the evolution wound-up taking approximately 12 hours.  So much for predictions.  I did have time to wolf-down a large PaleoKit and an avocado in the meantime, but that was it for the day.  No hunger pangs, no light-headedness, no blood sugar crash – none of that.  Just continued, fat-burning, Paleo cruisin’.  I expected that I’d wake up famished today, but that wasn’t to be.  I’ll eat a little later, but right now I’m still cruisin’ right along.

2/17/10, Strength-Speed Work with Dumbbell Snatches (aka The Cred)

The Cred and only The Cred today; approximately 45 minutes worth.  Unfamiliar with the exercise?  Check out this post.  Also, the athlete below (a Mike Boyle disciple) pulls-off a pretty sweet (and technically flawless) version.

Here’s how my rounds with the exercise looked today (all noted reps are per each arm):

60 x 5; 80 x 3; 90 x 3; 95 x 2; 100 x 1; 105 x 7 singles*

*Right arm rep, immediately followed by the left arm rep, with approximately 3-minutes rest between right arm/left arm “sets”.

Multi-rep sets were done all with one arm, then all with left, i.e., with 60 lb set, I did 5 right arm reps immediately followed by 5 left arm reps.

Why the dumbbell version?  Why not man-up and hit it with a barbell?
Couple of reasons for this. First off, I love the barbell power snatch — however, that love is unrequetted, at least when it comes to my shoulders.  I think this has more to do with the lingering effects of life spent trading licks the grid-iron (American football) than anything else.  But whatever the reason, the db version allows for a catch that is in more of a neutral, shoulder-and-hand/wrist-friendly position, therefore eliminating any resultant shoulder pain.  I also like the unbalanced loading the db version offers.  Is it more “real world”?  Meh, maybe so – though I still prefer the barbell version if I’m concentrating solely on the pull (either high or low), simply because I can load-up the bar with more weight.  Every now and again, though, I’ll do a single-arm high pull with a heavy db, just to change things up a bit.  Mostly, though, I pull (heavy) with the barbell version, but I rely on The Cred when I’m looking to do the full version of the movement.

Of Note:
Anyone catch Rob Orlando on the CrossFit Journal, speaking about his Hybrid Winter Challenge creation?  Good stuff, for sure.  And hey, I can count the number of times on one hand that I’ve actually performed a CrossFit WOD as Rx’d, but I still believe that this is the best 25 bucks per year you can drop.  And yeah, they totally f’d-up in what ultimately resulted as the whole Robb Wolf debacle, but that act of lunacy doesn’t negate the fantastic work they do with the Journal.  As with all sources of information (this joint included) take what is useful to you and disregard the rest.   Anyway, I’ve got my own ideas on what I’d like to see comprise a sprinter/power athlete’s decathlon.  Maybe I’ll post it up over the weekend and we can dissect it.

And another note…
I seem to be detecting a bit of strength imbalance/instability, especially in my lower body.  This may be as a result of not being able to sprint as much as I’d like over the last month or so.  In any event, you’ll see me start to work-in some more single-limb exercises over the next few weeks to clear that stuff up.  This is the nature of keen vigilance and constant reassessment.   

A Pair of Back-to-Back Workouts

“…Philosophers and ploughmen
Each must know his part
To sow a new mentality
Closer to the heart…”

~ Rush

Hat tip to Richard, at Free the Animal, for reminding me of my own freewheeling Rush days with this post. Ah, those wondrous, glorious days of no responsibility 🙂

Throwing the body a down-and-in curve ball

I don’t normally perform hard-core workouts back-to-back, as I think it is unwise on so many levels.  However (and, as there is an exception to every rule), my upcoming schedule is such that I’ll have plenty of time to recover over the next week (with no access to a full gym and/or weights of any sort, until January 6th). The main reason I don’t recommend doing this (tough, back-to-back workouts) often,though, is that it can quickly result in overtraining, and an eventual state of under-performing, injury, and just an overall run-down, irritable and depressed feeling. Now there are a couple of tricks that can be used to “minimize the negatives” in this scenario, but I don’t like to push my luck all that often.  An overtrained state is much like an addiction, in that it sneaks up and ties you down before you realize just what the hell is going on.  It also takes — I can say from personal experience — a long time to recover from an overtrained state.  Just say “no”, kids!

OK, enough evangelizing, moving on…

Both of these workouts were completed in approximately 40 minutes total time, and both were performed on an empty stomach, with the last meal prior to each of the workouts having come 11 hours before hand. Here’s how I divided the workouts over the two days in question (and remember, I knew ahead of time that I was going to go “back-to-back”, so there was a little more pre-planning here than is my usual):


  1. Heavy Front Squats x 3, 3, 3, 2, miss, 1

  2. Heavy Power Curl (from the floor) x 3, 5, 3, 3, 3, 3

I did these in superset fashion, with a full recovery between the execution of each exercise.  The emphasis on “heavy” means that I skewed toward the strength end of the modality spectrum, at the expense of speed (and overall power output).  In other words, the front squat reps were “ground out” as opposed to “snappy”.  The power curls were done at a weight that was just shy of what would have caused poor form.  And I added a little spin to the front squat, to ramp up the difficulty even a bit further. Initially, I set the pins of the power rack at a level that would accomodate a front squat at a one-quarter depth. Then, starting with a weight that was highly challenging for three reps in this range (actually, the weight was challenging just to un-rack and hold), I progressed, set-by-set (and while keeping the weight constant), by sequentially lowering the pins prior to the start of each subsequent set. I continued in this manner until I finally hit a set (and a squat depth) where I “bottomed-out” and failed to complete a single rep. In other words, on the first set I managed 3 reps at a pin height consistent with what would be considered my quarter squat depth. I adjusted the pins prior to the next set so that they allowed for another couple of inches or so of squat depth. So on and so on I went, until I finally hit the “fail” point which, incidentally, wound up being right about at the thigh parallel-to-ground depth. Then, for the final set, I raised the pins back to the last “good rep” depth, and did another single there.  This final set was indicative of my working philosophy of “never ending on a failed attempt”.  This is something I was tought at a very young age, and a philosophy I’ve employed in every sporting event and training scenerio.  I’ve also coached others in this way.  I don’t want to start treading on Anthony Robbins’s territory here, but consistantly ending with accomplishment works.

I’ve found that the Power Curl works well in combination with a heavy front squat, with the combination of movements being complementary to one another; it’s also quite taxing to the hips, core and lower back.


I woke up feeling pretty damn sore from Tuesday’s heavy bout. Performing squats the way I did (progressively lowering the squat depth, set-to-set, while maintaining a consistent working weight) on Tuesday is a good way to trick your body into going well beyond what you’d normally be able to do if you were to perform the usual set/rep method of maintaining a constant depth while increasing the working weight set-to-set. Anyway, this resulted in a good bit of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) throughout my core, hips, and upper and lower back. I expected as much, though, with the amount weight that I was pushing in the movement. In any event, I decided to skew more into the power realm (bringing the speed element back into play) with Wednesday’s workout so as not to pummel my body with back-to-back similar modalities. This, in effect, serves to “minimize the negatives” associated with the performance of back-to-back (or same day splits, for that matter) workouts, at least from a neurological standpoint. Here’s what I did:

  1. Dumbbell Snatch + Split Jerk x 3, 3, 2 (each arm)

  2. Muscle-up (on gymnastic rings) x 2 full muscle-ups (+2 additional dips), for 3 sets

I did the above two exercises as a superset for three rounds, then I hit a total of 5 additional singles in the DB Snatch/Split jerk, each arm (full recovery between each rep, swapped arms each rep – i.e., L (recover), R (recover), L (recover)…). I wound-up fairly pressed for time by the workout’s conclusion, however, I did manage to squeeze-in a quick steam/cold shower contrast to help speed my recovery. As of this writing (Wednesday evening), I can tell you, though, that I’m pretty much toast, and in no shape for brining in the new year!  The time off will be much appreciated.

In Health,


My Love Affair with the Dumbbell Snatch

“Most beautiful dumb girls think they are smart and get away with it, because other people, on the whole, aren’t much smarter.”

~ Louise Brooks

From a very cool collection by solarixx

From a very cool collection by solarixx

The snatch.  The dumbbell snatch.  Yeah, I’m 44 years old and I still get a little chuckle when the talk turns to this exercise.  Just try to say “dumbbell snatch split jerk” without cracking a smile, I dare you.  Say it to the hottie at work and check her reaction.  See how long it takes for HR to give you a call.  And when they do call, just tell them you were trying to let  the little miss in on a juicy  secret: that what the deadlift, in all its various mutations, is to the building of overall strength, the snatch, in its various mutations, is to the acquisition of overall power.  Yeah, in my opinion, the snatch is the money exercise for building overall bodily power.  Believe it.  And as an added plus, it just gives you a warm tingly  feeling all over to say it.  My personal best snatch.  I hit the snatch so hard my knees were weak the rest of the day. Believe me, I’ve been in the game quite a while, and this never gets old.  Never fails to make me feel like I’m back in junior high.

Check out this page from Exercise and Sport Science, by William E. Garrett, Donald T. Kirkendall.  Now, as regulars readers of this blog know, I’m all for properly conducted and properly interpreted and reported science.  To me though (and practically speaking), scientific findings are only as useful as to that degree by which they can be employed in a real-world setting.  Now,empirically speaking I can tell you this: a good bout of snatching — any form of snatching — will put a serious hurtin’ on you.  In a good way, that is.  Your central nervous system will be pushed to its limit and your post-workout metabolism will be jacked beyond belief.  I don’t have any science to present to you to back that statement up — nor do I need any — no more so than I need to say (and feel confident in the statement) that the deadlift is the truest test of overall bodily strength, involving every muscle you’ve got, and even a few that you never knew existed.

Barbell Snatch or Dumbbell Snatch?

Both have their particular benefits and really, you can’t go wrong with either choice.  I will say this: I would prefer to do much more barbell snatching than I currently do.  Why don’t I do more?  (1)Because my gym is not set-up for (unfortunately) Oly-lifting, and (2) I’m usually pressed for time and, therefore, don’t have enough to properly warm-up and hit this version of the exercise the way it needs to be hit — lots and lots of singles and doubles — really pushing the weight envelope (which means a miss or two here and there) — with plenty of between-set rest.

But I console myself by adding variations to the dumbbell version that would otherwise be impractical in the barbell version.  I use the DB version of the snatch as a lead-in for  various combos — adding a press, push-press, or some form of jerk (and sometimes all three) to the mix.  Talk about a metcon combo extraordinaire!  The DB snatch versions are the crown jewel.  Let’s take a quick look at a workout I did earlier this week:

6:30 AM, empty stomach, following an approximate 15-minute, progressive-intensity warm-up —

  1. 5xDB Snatch + 1xPress + 1xPush Press + 2x (each leg, i.e., 4 total) Split-Jerk combo.  One full round through with each arm.
  2. Feet elevated, Ballistic Pushups x 8.  Get as much “air” on each rep as possible.  Pretend that the floor is griddle-hot, so spend as little time as possible in the catch/reset stage between reps.  Catch/reset at lowest point possible, i.e., just prior to chin-planting into the floor.

Four total rounds of this, at working weight, in 30 minutes.  Quite taxing, to say the least.

So, how did I come about that particular DB snatch combo?  Well, for me, the most limiting portion of this particular combo is the strict press portion.  I’ve found, empirically, that I can rip-off about 5 really good DB Snatches with a weight that I can, using the same arm, strict press once (following the snatch portion — which, by itself is quite taxing).  So there you have it — the art of blending good science and real-world practicality to achieve solid results — or “horse training”, as I call it.

By the way, I really, really like this kind of methodology, as brought to us from Chris, at Conditioning Research.  In fact, this looks very similar to the way I construct the bulk  of (bulk of not all of) my weight training workouts.  And, It is in my humble opinion, the best workout methodology to pair with the TTP manner of hunter-gatherer eating modality.

In Health,