2/23/10, A Different Shade of MetCon

So simple on paper; pretty friggin’ tough, though, in practice:

Farmers Walks x 200 yards/120 lb DBs: (time for each “walk”): 3:20, 4:14, 4:37

Feet-elevated Ring Flyes: x 12, 12, 12, 12, 12, 10+2

Pistol Squats with 25 lb plate: x 8, 8 (each leg)

I began with a superset of farmers walks and ring flyes, then moved into a superset of ring flyes and pistol squats.  Farmers walks were done in bursts of approximately 20 to 40 seconds (with as short a recovery as possible) until the full 200 yards was covered — the total time for covering the full 200 yards is noted above.  In performing the ring flyes, my feet were positioned such that they ended up just above shoulder level, in the “down” position of the movement.  I hit momentary failure at 10 on the last set, paused a few seconds, then hit the last two reps.

A couple things to note here.  First off, notice that each burst of work here feel into a time frame of approximately 15 to 40 seconds.  Again, this was not by accident; my intent today was to place emphasis on the Glycolytic pathway.  For an excellent primer on energy system pathways, see this post from Phil Davies’ Sports Fitness Advisor.

Secondly, farmers walks are the most underrated exercise I know of.  You want a tight core, hulking traps and Mark McGuire forearms?  Do farmers walks for appreciable distance (time under tension) and with a heavy pair of dumbbells (or a heavy set of whatevers).  I won’t even mention the benefit to the lower body.  All the wrist curls in the world won’t come close to punishing your forearms in the way heavy farmers walks will.  Low tech for sure, but functional, with a capital “F” my friends.  Ring flyes with elevated feet are pretty tough on the core as well; think planks to the nth-degree — oh yeah, with the added bonus of a little bit of chest/shoulder work as well.

Right leg is catching up fast.  Time to start jacking up the weight in the pistols.

More MetCon Musings

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Abraham Lincoln

The Scribblings of a madman

A little insight into how I develop some of my ideas; tease the few, substantial and practical take-away messages out of the bombardment of daily information.  Metaphorically, I think of it as panning for gold.  Anyway, I have a small “office” in my home where I do the majority of my reading and writing, and in that office is the whiteboard seen here.  Now I’d prefer to be surrounded by an old-school blackboard and chalk (for tactile reasons — and sentimentality as well, I suppose), and I’d prefer that every wall of the room be covered likewise.  Not a good decorating decision, (or so I’m told), so for the time being I’ll have to muddle through with my one little whiteboard.

What I’d sketched-up a few days ago is an encapsulation of my thoughts on the intersection of Power Production/Bodyweight Ratio, MetCon Modality, and Exercise Selection.  From that 3-way intersection, then, we can tease-out the comparison graph of Relative Power Production as it relates to Exercise Duration (in seconds, logarithmic scale).  You see here that an Olympic lift requires about 1 second to complete, and produces the most  power output/duration of any exercise.  Then on to the 100 meter sprint, a 2km row, and an 80km bike race (these are just examples within a wide-ranging spectrum, of course).  What you don’t see here (you would, if I had another board — hint, hint, Mrs. TTP 😉  are the relative percentage contributions from each of the bodies three (or four, if you really want to split hairs) energy systems to support each endeavor.  This template, if super-imposed upon the Relative Power Production/Duration graph, would depict an almost exclusively Phosphagen energy system contribution to the far left of the duration scale (the Oly lift end), phasing into a mostly glycolytic contribution at roughly the 100 meter sprint point, then ever-increasingly aerobic at about the 2km row point.  The 80 km bike ride would be almost 100% aerobic.  And remember, this overlay wouldn’t be depicted as a hard shift, but rather a gradual phasing, such as would be seen in a gradually darkening color wheel, for example.

What this sketch really depicts, though, is the fact that the exercise itself is only a means to an end, if our workout focus is is centered upon a MetCon modality. What should truly be the emphasis of any MetCon-oriented workout, is a directed attempt to push the work capacity limits of the targeted energy system.  Having to grapple with exercise technique as one fatigues ought to be the least of concerns, unless of course, maintaining proper technique under fatigue is an inherent (and adjusted for) part of the equation.  One example of this would be training a starting pitcher; another might be conditioning an American football quarterback for efficient 2-minute drill play.  For the vast majority of trainees, though, the desire is to increase broadly defined work capacity under particular energy systems.  It is my opinion, then, that (for instance) a session of appropriately weighted farmer’s walk repeats is a much more efficient exercise selection option for building work capacity of the glycolytic energy system that an equal amount of time spent on power clean repeats.  And as well, one can push themselves to the brink fatigue-wise with a farmer’s walk repeat session as not have to be concerned with the potential of technique-related injury.

In health,