3/27/10; Change-of-Direction Sprints, and Another Look at Walmart?

45 minutes worth of fixie sprints to start this one off today; 17-hours fasted.  I stopped off at the library for about an hour, and winded-up leaving with a copy of The 10,000 Year Explosion.  I’ve been wanting to read it for some time, now, as I keep seeing anti-Paleo arguments infused with vague references to the book.   From what I gather, these arguments are based on misinterpretations of the book’s points, but hey – I just want to see for myself.

Anyway, then it was back in the saddle for another 15 minutes or so, and out to the field where I mixed it up with some 3 cone and pro agility, change-of-direction sprints.  Why change-of-direction sprints?  Because the start/stop, turn & twist nature of these movements is altogether different than straight-line sprinting.  Again, just another tool in the toolbox.

10 x 25 yd sprint starts served as the bike-to-sprint transition; then 6 x pro agility (2 minute rest between runs), followed by 6 x 3 cone drill (2 minute rest between runs)

Pro Agility:

3 cone:

Then it was into the gym and in the power rack for the following:

btn barbell push-press: 135 x 3; 165 x 3; 185 x 3; 195 x 2; 200 x 1

jump squat (from 1/4 squat position):135 x 3; 165 x 3; 185 x 3; 195 x 3; 200 x 3

muscle-ups @ bodyweight: 3 each round

5 total rounds here, then picked it up and biked back home.  Good, good stuff.

Holding one’s own convictions in highest suspicion — this is the essence of epistemology.  It’s also the “freak flag” I most proudly wave.  In the spirit of that epistemocratic philosophy, I offer you the following: a second look at Walmart.  Yeah, that Walmart; the enterprise we all love to hate.

I have to admit that I am (was?) a total Walmart snob, opting to do the bulk of my food shopping at farmer’s markets, and upper-end chains such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and, in a pinch, Harris Teeter.  Over the past year or so  though, those times when I have slunk into a Walmart, I’ve noticed something odd — an abundance of fresh, good-looking fruits and veggies.  Plenty of organic choices and a clean, tidy appearance.  And damn if they don’t have the market cornered on good avocados.  Now, for the most part I’ve turned my nose up at these pleasant offerings (“trucked halfway across hell and back”, shitty employee labor practices, supplier manipulation, etc…).  Well, maybe it’s time to give the behemoth another look.  Can offerings of grass-fed beef be far behind?  Hey, I’m just sayin’…

So check out this recent NPR Talk of the Nation broadcast with guest Corby Kummer, senior editor for The Atlantic. His article, “The Great Grocery Smackdown: Will Wal-Mart, Not Whole Foods, Save The Small Farm And Make America Healthy?” appears in the March 2010 issue of the magazine.  It’s a good companion read to the interview.

Anyhow, listen to the broadcast.  Read the article.  Allow your assumptions to be challenged.  Epistemology is not about just flapping in the direction of the prevailing wind; it is, though, about having the strength to see your core convictions dragged out into the light of day and dusted-up a bit.   I won’t ever stop going to farmers markets, simply for the purity of that social exchange.  But if Walmart is serious about doing good and playing nice with the local farmer, I’ll give them another look, as I will any outlet that does the same.  I’m certainly not loaded with dollars, but those that I do have, I will “vote” with.

Oh yeah, and see if you can resist screaming “just go Paleo!” when, during the Talk of the Nation broadcast, the conversation turns to celiac disease, and the availability/cost of gluten-free products.  UGH!!

3/20/10; A Little Bit of Everything Workout & Some Thoughts on Explosiveness vs. Elasticity

“Age is mind over matter — if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter” – Mark Twain

A long bout of fixie intervals, some barefooted sprints, and a little bit of iron heavin’.  Spring broke in a beautiful way here in eastern NC, so I got out and about and made the most of it.

After about an hour-and-a-half of fixie intervals about town, I hit the Rocky Mount soccer fields where I shifted from clipless bike shoes to Vibrams, and proceeded to knock-out 7 x 120 yard sprints; this following a good bit of hip mobility work to act as a transition between the “biking motion” and the “sprinting motion”.  I’ve mentioned before how difficult a transition this is — especially the longer and more intense the former activity (in my case, almost always biking) vis-a-vis the later movement.  Two more non-complimentary endeavors you’re likely to find.  I love each, though, and so I’m okay with the fact that each, by bio-mechanical necessity, reduces the efficiency and proficiency of the other.  At this point in my “career” I’d rather be a generalist than a specialist anyway.

Following the sprints, I went into the gym and, following a Bergener warm-up* (explanation here), I lit into the following:

Whip snatch to OHS x 1 + heave snatch x 3 @ 115 lbs
straight bar muscle-ups x 3

Three rounds of that, then –

40 x 5; 50 x 4, 4, 4
Straight bar muscle-ups: x 3, 3, 3, 3

So, 7 total rounds of muscle-ups here.  The whip snatch, OHSs and heave snatches were mighty tough following the fixie ride and sprints.  *If you have access to the CrossFit Journal (if you don’t, you’re really missing out), make sure to check out coach Bergener working with Owen Franks of the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team at Mike’s Gym in Bonsall, Calif.

Explosiveness and Elasticity

I’ll come back to this more and more over the coming days, because it’s been kicking around in my mind lately; mostly because I hear the terms used — and wrongly so — interchangeably, and too because I think it might help to clean up some confusion when it comes to sporting comparisons and exercise prescription.

Explosiveness and elasticity came up in a recent discussion I had with a friend of mine, concerning the recent NFL combine and the collegiate “pro days” currently ongoing here in the US (basically, these are “tryouts” for the  professional level of American-style football).  Then, in a way that only S & C geeks will truly understand, our discussion shifted to a fantasy sprint match between American-style footballer Chris Johnson, (he of the 4.2 second 40 yard dash fame) and Olympic gold medalist and world record holder, Usain Bolt.  We agreed that CJ would have a good chance of winning a hypothetical 40-yard dash square-off, and most assuredly would take any version of a three-cone drill.  We also agreed that Bolt would take the hypothetical, straight-up 100 meter sprint, hands-down.  That he agreed here was a no-brainer.  But, the why behind our predictions is where we differed in opinion.

Bolt’s 100 meter superiority doesn’t all have to do with his gi-normous stride length — although that is no doubt a huge advantage, especially among athletes of similar, superior sprint-specific gifts.  No, I’d also say that Bolt has the one-up on CJ in what is commonly known as elasticity — the property of the human body to store and release energy.

Ahh, but CJ has the one-up on Bolt in explosiveness.

Think “shot out of a cannon” — explosiveness — vs the repetitive, bouncing super-ball; elasticity.

Plenty of ground to cover, here; more on this idea to follow.

And, as a nice segue into what will be the most obvious question to stem from an explosive/elastic discussion — can these qualities be effectively trained?Here’s an interesting KQED Forum discussion on the “nature/nurture” debate; David Shenk (author of The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ Is Wrong).  Now, although I am convinced of the reality of significantly affecting your genetic hand (in both intellectual and physical realms), I happen to give a little more credence to the genetic side of the equation than does the author.  Still, though, and interesting talk, and certainly good food for thought.

In health,

3/12/10; MetCon for Sprinters, and Urban Dreaming

135 lbs hasn’t felt this heavy in quite some time.  I cut down the rest time between exercises here to next to nothing — just long enough to catch a gasp of air — before hitting the next movement.  If you look at the time-under-tension of each movement you’ll see that each “work” segment lasted approximately 10 seconds (give or take a couple), and I made a point to maintain this even toward the later sets.  If I had to take an extra moment or two of rest to meet that criteria, so be it.  And at some points, in fact, I had to do just that.  Power burst, short rest, power burst, short rest, etc. — this was the affect I was shooting for; akin to sprint repeats with very short recovery between heats.  Also of note: there’s nothing like fatigue to expose your weaknesses, and in my case, the bug-a-boo remains strength and stability levels in right leg.  No telling how much power-production potential (and sprint speed) I’m leaving on the table by having a relatively (to my left leg) weak right leg.  Just think of the power production lost on each right-leg stroke over a given distance.  But hey, that’s what this is all about, right?  Locate the relative weakness, address it properly, then identify and address the next.

4 rounds of the following — my version of “anaerobics“.  Hmm; does this make me the Richard Simmons of anaerobics?  Anyway, I then continued on seamlessly with the weighted dips, supersetting them with glute/ham raises.

snatch-grip high pull (from the hang): 135 x 7, 7, 7, 7
power clean (from the hang): 135 x 5, 5, 3, 3
single-leg step-up (left leg, front squat position): 135 x 5, 5, 5, 5, 5
power clean (from the hang): 135 x 5, 5, 3, 3
single-leg step-up (right leg, front squat position): 135 x 5, 5, 4, 4
weighted dips: 45 x 7, 7; 70 x 7, 7; 80 x 6, 6, 6

GHR: 40lbs x 5, 5, 5

How is this different from a CrossFit workout?  In maintaining primary emphasis on per-exercise (and per-rep) intensity vs the overall completion time of the combined rounds, I can preferentially target the anaerobic energy production system.  This may seem a subtle difference — in practice, though, it makes all the difference in the world.  Imagine how different the rep execution would be if my intent were on completing the entire workout in “record” time.

Moving on.  If you have the opportunity, check out this interview with Novella Carpenter of Farm City “fame”.   Farm City, by the way, is a fantastic read.  Here’s a mini-review I did a while back as part of a larger post.

(From Chow.com)

Ah, what a dream.  A couple of acres right-smack-dab downtown of a large, metro area (fixie riding!), 800 or so square feet of open warehouse space available for a “strong box”, some field/alley runs for sprints, drags and such.  Hmmmmm….

3/6/10; A Nice MetCon Combo,and…Diet Nimrods Abound?

“The one common experience of all humanity is the challenge of problems.”

R. Buckminster Fuller

2 miles from my house to the gym offers a perfect opportunity for a short fixie huck/warm-up prior to throwing around a little iron.  An odd combination, I know.  I was asked recently if I was the only fixie enthusiast/Paleo-proponent/physical culturalist that I know of.  Well, I don’t know about that, but it sure does feel at times as though I were deposited here from an alien ship.

…let’s just say I’m a member of a very, very small subset  🙂

Today’s Workout –
My focus is still primarilly on unilateral, lower-body work, and today’s MetCon session did not deviate from that theme.  The reps in each exercise are still fairly low, with the emphasis being placed on the explosiveness of every rep of each exercise vs attempting to reach some predetermined rep number.  I moved smartly between exercises, but I did not allow much, if any, degradation in my form.  Here’s how it shaped-up:

Post warm-up “bridge”: whip snatch to OHS, 3 sets of 5 at 95 lbs

The day’s combo:
whip snatch x 5
single-leg clean* x 1 (left)
high box step-ups (front squat bar position) x 5 (left)
single-leg clean* x 1 (right)
high box step-ups (front squat bar position) x 5 (right)
muscle-up + L-dip combo (1 mu  + 2 L-dips = 1 rep) x 3
rear foot elevated “elastic verts” x 6 each leg

~ all weighted exercises @ 135 lbs.  4 total rounds ~

The single-leg clean is simply, and in the end, a regular power clean — however, the pull phase is done with a single-leg emphasis; the catch is a normal, i.e., bilateral, catch.  I do allow a “balance touch” with the off leg when needed (i.e., as fatigue set in).  From the catch, I moved directly into the step-ups.  The box height here is just below knee level.  Notice that today’s step-ups were done with a front squat bar position; this translates to a bit more of a quad-dominant movement vs the normal back squat bar position.

Moving on to nimrods in the news

The following quote is all you really need to see of this recent NYTimes article on obesity to realize we’re dealing, once more, with a blindered, simpleton take on diet.

“…The answer lies in biology. A person’s weight remains stable as long as the number of calories consumed doesn’t exceed the amount of calories the body spends, both on exercise and to maintain basic body functions. As the balance between calories going in and calories going out changes, we gain or lose weight.”

Ugh!  To be fair, the author did interview a couple of dietary “bright stars” — and then conveniently dumbed-down their message.  How is it that the sane voices in pieces such as this become so marginalized?  I suppose it boils down to sound-bite journalism, and the general public’s reluctance to spend the time required to delve further into subjects that may lay outside their fields of specialization; a destructive, symbiotic relationship, of sorts.

I believe it was Dr. Richard Feinman (he of the Metabolism Society)  who so eloquently equated the “calorie-in/calorie-out” theory of weight managaement to (and I’ll use my own wording here):

“…considering the affect of gravity upon an object, absent of friction.”

A nice corollary, I think.  Real people and real metabolisms must operate in the real world.  No consideration of how a type of calorie affects metabolic response is as ludicrous as the aforementioned consideration of gravity absent friction.  A nice thought experiment, maybe; any real-world application, though, is not to be found.

And then there was this, uh…free-verse, anti-paleo ramble?  Not sure what Ms. King’s “Problem with Paleo” is, exactly — maybe she thinks animals are shouldering the load and/or bearing the brunt of abuse so as to satisfy the faddish whims of hipster caveman wannabes?  I dunno.  My thought is, fine, be a detractor — I rather enjoy having my convictions rattled — but please come to the fray with a grounded, plausible argument for Chrissakes.  Sheesh…

I refuse to end on a negative, though, and here to save me from that is a fabulous and recent TED talk given by chef Jamie Oliver.  I’m quite sure everyone with a diet/physical culture bent has seen this by now, but I wanted to “store” it on TTP because I believe in Jamie’s message — and in his dire warning.  Please show this to someone in your life who may not be as diet-centric as you — and for God’s sake, if you have kids, please, PLEASE pay attention.  This really is a matter of life and death.

In health,

Day One:Three-and-a-Half Hours in the Fixie Saddle; Day Two: Explosive Creds

“One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Yesterday, in what amounted to quite a departure from my usual explosive-type workouts, I spent three-and-a-half hours in the fixie saddle, terrorizing the downtown streets and greenway trails in and around Raleigh, NC.  Why the departure?  Well, I don’t know — it just kinda felt like the right thing to do.  A few times a year I’ll get the urge to go super long and super hard — either on the mountain bike, or on the fixie — and I’ll just (pardon the pun), roll with it.  And in a testament to the effectiveness of my manner of MetCon training (numerous intense, short bursts crammed into a curtailed period of time), I wind-up being surprisingly well-adapted to these long, drawn-out grinds.   And, being the Paleo fat-burner that I am, I’m saved from the constant need to replenish my sugar stores every so often to prevent boking.  I just saddle-up and roll hard, with nary a dip in energy.

A serendipitous aside: one of the items I’d loaded on my iPod to listen to on the drive out to Raleigh was this Kathleen Show interview of Christopher McDougall, the author of Born to Run.  Now I don’t necessarily agree with McDougall’s premise that all humans were (are) predisposed for endurance endeavors, but I do agree with the notion that all humans are predisposed to move and interact with their world; I just happen to feel at home with high-intensity, short-duration, explosive movements.  I don’t deny, though, that some genotypes are more naturally inclined toward the expression of an endurance-leaning phenotype.  I say roll with what feels right for you; let n=1 rule the day.  To be sure there are guideposts — and we can certainly influence one’s ultimate phenotypical expression via appropriate stimulus — but the definition of “right” and “wrong” ultimately depends on that individual’s self-knowledge.  And McDougall’s profile of Jenn Shelton is enlightening.  I think we could all learn a little something about “flow” “do what comes natural” from Jenn; maybe with a bit more maturity she’ll be able to more effectively weave chaos and discipline to produce the Buddha-like persona that she envisions running will create.

And by the way, I went into this three-and-a-half hour romp at 17-hours fasted.  And what did I have during the ride?  Nothing of substance — nadda; a few swigs of water, that’s it.  I did however stop for a break at my favorite Raleigh coffee shop, Cup-A-Joe, at about 2 1/2 hours in, for a little red-eye jolt.  My fast ended at about one hour post-ride at a wonderful Raleigh Asian market, with a meal of plump roast duck, and sauteed bok choy.  If you’re ever in the Raleigh area, you’ve got to make a special trip to Grand Asia for their roasted duck — it’s fabulous!

So, why my fixation with the fixie?  Well, I can’t put it any better than the following quotes from this informative, though dated (some of the links are toast), Wired article:

“Learning how to ride a fixie was like drinking decaf your whole life and then suddenly having the real thing,” and, “It’s a Zen thing. Once you get used to traffic, then you can float through the chaos…”

There’s no coasting, no time off; if the wheels are turnin’, your legs are workin’.  It’s a pure, beautiful…and, yeah, very Zen-like, man-machine interface.

So how’s this for keeping the body guessing?

I followed-up Saturday’s long fixie romp with a few rounds of explosive Creds on Sunday.  Why?  Well, I rolled out of bed and felt like it.  Post warm-up,it went a little something like this:

Creds (each arm): 70 x 5; 80 x 3: 90 x 2; 100 x 1; 105 x 7 singles

~ superset with ~

Standing Ab Wheel Roll-Outs (minimal knee touch): 7 reps for all 11 rounds

In health,

A Saturday Sprint Session, and the Dose/Response/Drop-off Relationship

“…Some guys they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece,
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin’ in the street.
Bruce Spingsteen.  Though I’m kinda partial to my buddy Charlie Robison’s version.

Saturday’s workout commenced during hour 18 of an IF (intermittent fast), and consisted of a good deal of fixie interval sprints followed by a barefooted sprint session on artificial turf.  That my posterior chain was still pretty well zorched as a result of Friday’s deadlift/RDL hybrid may lead you to ask why the hell, then, follow that up with a sprint-intensive workout? And on logical terms I have to agree that this seems a poor choice at best.  However, this is where the real world meets the dose – response ratio, and where proper application of drop-offs can save even an illogical right-brainer from overdoing things.

I’ve got a big week ahead full of packing and moving that I know will preclude me from getting to the gym for a while.  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are maybe’s – after that it’s a no-go for at least a week to 10 days.  Not only that, but this looks to be my last opportunity to workout at the ECU sporting complex.  I hate to leave this fine “playground” behind, but onward I must go.  New opportunities and new “playgrounds” I’ll find (or make) to be sure.  No regrets, no looking back.  Anyway, so add a pinch of “sentimentality” to the “real world” aspect of absolutely needing to sprint today; 17 years worth of “playground fun” will be sorely missed, no doubt.  Fond, fond memories.

Well, ok then – so let’s first take a quick look at the dose – response curve as I see it and as I operate by; my training “north star”, if you will.  If you follow no other “map” in your physical culture journey, please follow this one.  Tweak it as need be to fit your n=1 requirements, and be true to it.

My apologies for the crappy photo.  The “good” camera has already been packed away, so this was taken with my phone.  Anyway, what you see depicted here on the x-axis is “time” and on the y-axis we have “fitness level”, or “ability”, if you prefer.  The shaded area in the (x, -y) quadrant is “total induced fatigue, or stress”, with the shaded area in the (x, y) quadrant being “super-compensation”.  This is no more than a visual way of depicting the phenomena of working out, recovering for a few days, and at the end of that few days, being able to to workout again, but this time at a higher degree of fitness.

Ahh, but if only it were that easy.

Try to wrap your mind around all the things that can contribute to your overall “fatigue” level and you’ll end up in the funny farm in no time.  Work stress, sleep deprivation, money worries – you get the idea.  And I’m not even considering yet how the effect of Monday’s MetCon workout coupled with Wednesday’s heavy deadlift day and Thursday’s “moving the tanning bed down 2 flights of stairs and through a maze of packed boxes” will effect Friday’s planned bout of push-pressing.  Unless you happen to be a professional athlete though, or are just plain lucky enough to better control your outside “fatigue inducers” and are not hampered by any other obligations that can interfere with your workout schedule, then this is the “real life” that you’re bound to grapple with.  So what to do?

Enter Auto-Regulation, and the Drop-off method of gauging induced fatigue.

Let’s take Saturday’s barefooted sprint workout as an example.  Remember that my posterior chain is a bit fatigued already; overall, though, I feel pretty damn good and ready to rock & roll (Paleo does a body good, real good).  Now I’ve got a determination to make: I know I’m fatigued a bit, and so relative to my “prime (i.e., fully recovered, non-fatigued)” sprint condition, I’m sitting somewhere below baseline, in the (x, -y) quadrant, so to speak.  I want a nice sprint workout, yet I don’t want to trash myself either.  I need a way to somewhat gauge how much stress I’m putting on  my system, so that I can pull the plug on the session before I end up digging myself into a recovery hole that I won’t be able to climb out of.   The answer?  Well, under this particular set of circumstances, I chose a “sprint for time” session: a 6 second sprint, followed by a measure of the distance covered in each sprint, and once unable to match my best distance for the day, I pull the plug.  Each sprint duration was held at a constant 6 seconds throughout, with a standing start.  The distance covered in each sprint hovered around the 50 yard mark, though this wasn’t important in and of itself – what was important was the distance covered relative to the day’s other sprints.  I marked my best distance with a cone, nudging it further and further out as each successive sprint covered a tad bit more ground.  Here’s what it looked liked in practice:

  1. set mark
  2. beat mark, reset cone
  3. beat mark, reset cone
  4. beat mark, reset cone
  5. beat mark, reset cone
  6. beat mark, reset cone
  7. beat mark, reset cone
  8. equaled mark
  9. beat mark, reset cone
  10. equaled mark
  11. equaled mark
  12. miss, end session

Now if I had wanted to induce more fatigue, all I would have to do is continue on until I missed my day’s PR by a certain percentage – anywhere up to about a 10% drop-off is what I shoot for when I use this method, depending upon the modality employed.  As this was a pure speed workout (long rest intervals between individual sprints) as opposed to a more MetCon-leaning session (short rest between sprints), I opted for a “1 miss and done” drop-off.  If I were doing something more along the lines of MetCon work, I might opt for a drop-off of say 5% (or roughly 2.5 yards off of the best run of the day), in which case I would continue, 6-sec. sprint after 6-sec. sprint, until I missed my best mark by 2.5 yards.

Is this an exact science?  No, it’s only to be used as an indicator – but it’s a hell of a lot better than a shot-in-the-dark SWAG at how much fatigue should be induced, or how much is actually received, in a given workout.

Armed with this information, then, I can begin, over time, to correlate a dose – recovery factor for myself.  Everyone has different recovery abilities, though, so my “recovery factor” will differ from someone else’s.  In general terms, I can usually count on a recovery factor of about 1.2 days / % of induced fatigue on a like movement and modality.  In other words, if I were to have completed the above MetCon sprint session example (6 sec. sprints for distance, 5% drop-off), I’d wait at least 6 days (1.2 days x 5%), before tackling this same type workout again.  Sometime between 6 – 8 days, then ought to put me in the (x, y) quadrant, super-compensated sweet-spot – time to hit the same movement and modality again.

Again, this is not a precise science, as in real life there are just too many fatigue-inducing variables to have to juggle.  And to complicate matters, I’m forever altering my workout methods, movements and modalities.  Just as an example, what if I were to throw in an extremely tough, heavy dip and pull-up day right in the middle of my 6-day “recovery”?  Or get hit with a stressful marathon work tsunami?  Either will certainly induce a systemic fatigue that undoubtedly will affect my recovery from the preceding sprint session, so maybe I’ll bump my next planned sprint session out an extra day, just to be safe.  And when I do step barefooted back out onto the turf, I’ll again employ the auto-regulation/drop-off method to keep close tabs on my induced fatigue.

Doug McGuff employs a similar recovery methodology in his Body By Science protocol.  And since Doug is able to more accurately define the amount of induced fatigue dosed in a period of time (due to the nature of his overall workout protocol), he is therefore better able to more accurately predict a trainee’s “recovery factor” – as would I have been able to had I removed the heavy dip and pull-up workout from my example above.

This is yet another angle on the give-and-take, yin-yang nature of physical culture.  Another tool for the toolbox, another aspect to consider, discuss and refine.

In health,

1/3/10, Tire Flips & Such – In the Cold!

Thought for the day: wind-chill sucks!  Even though the actual temperature wasn’t all that bad.  Began the day with a fixie huck up to the “playground” – for whatever good that did as a warm-up 🙂  Then:

  • dislocates, 1 x 50
  • 50 yard sprints x 6

Followed by:

  • tire flips x 6 (minimal rest between flips, each flip as fast as possible)
  • foot-elevated ring flyes, 2 x 12
  • straight-bar muscle-ups, rest-pause singles until miss (10, 13, 11)

Three rounds of that.  Don’t know what the deal was with the first round of muscle-ups – maybe I wasn’t fully warm?

The tire I used is an old Armstrong 18.4 R38 tractor tire.  I don’t know how heavy that thing is, but it’s sure awkward as all hell to flip.

Performed this workout in an 18-hour fasted state.  Post workout nutrition was a Fage Total with a handful of pecans.

This will set me up for a Tuesday AM push-press/Rev grip pull-up workout.

12/28/09, Transitioning Out of Hibernation Mode

I’ve been on an intense bout of rest and relaxation since the evening of the 22nd, so I approached this workout as a transition back into the swing of things.  Just wanted to get out and move; get the ol’ blood pumping a bit.  Once I get back into the gym (tomorrow morning), I’ll be shifting my focus slightly toward the strength end of the modality continuum.  The loading will be a bit heavier, the rep speed – though still pretty crisp – won’t have the explosiveness indicative of a max power emphasis workout.  The mentality, though – as always – will be to move the weight as fast as possible.  More on the method as I progress through the block.

Today’s workout began with a good dose of fixie sprints around the beautiful town of G-Vegas, NC.  I appreciate having returned to a point just far enough south so as to have access to snow and slush-free streets.  Good ride, and good to be back in the saddle.  Then:

  • 50 shoulder dislocates x 2 sets
  • 150 push-ups/50 yd. sprint combo*
  • straight bar muscle-ups, reverse grip/regular grip power pull-ups combo ( 1 “set” = 4 rev. grip power pull-ups, transition in air, 2 regular grip power pull-ups, transition….until miss or failure) x “a bunch” of sets – didn’t keep track, just kept at it until form degenerated so as to be deemed atrocious.

*An old GPP standby, and a nod to the folks at CrossFit; something my firefighter trainees will learn to loathe come February (do your homework boys and girls!): with a running clock, perform 150 quality push-ups with a fifty yard sprint at each break.  In other words, (for example) 30 push-ups, sprint, 25 push-ups, sprint…until a total of 150 push-ups have been completed.  No pause in the push-up reps allowed; if the slightest of pauses is necessitated, a sprint must ensue.  And this is a quality, all-out sprint – not a stride, lope, or half-assed effort performed as a “recovery” cycle.  If a rest is required (and you can bet your ass there will be), it must come after the sprint and before the next “set” of push-ups.  The number of push-ups within each set does not matter, so long as they are quality reps.  The shoulder dislocates did me no favors in the push-up department here, so I wound up performing plenty of sprints –  especially in the last 50 or so reps.  8:35 total time.  I don’t know what my last outing of this timed-out at, but I’d have to say it was a hell of a lot faster than that.  There’s always something to work on, something to improve.

12/10/09, Speed-Strength Emphasis

There’s a subtle difference between emphasis being place on Speed-Strength as opposed to Strength-Speed.  Ideally, the power generation produced by a given exercise/movement performed in each modality would be the same, though.  A quick observation of the meatball power equation (really, this is all we need be concerned with) reveals that, assuming the exercise/movement distance remains constant (and we will – the distance of movement in one’s deadlift, for example is, for all practical purposes, always the same), all we have to manipulate is execution speed and external loading.  For any given loading, an increase in execution speed results in an increased power output; that’s speed emphasis in a nutshell.  Now, increase the loading without realizing a reduction in execution speed and,  ah-ha, we’ve further increased power output.  Fine tune this with some auto-regulation with an eye toward maximum power generation in your desired rep range.  Once execution speed begins to falter, pull the plug on the exercise.

Here’s what went down at 6:15 this morning at the Rocky Mount, NC YMCA:

15 minute, sprint/plyo-intensive warm-up with plenty of dynamic stretching, then –

  • cns prime: sprint starts, 20 meter/20 meter/40 meter/20 meter, approx. 5 sec pause between each start
  • GHR (glute/ham raise): 45 x 5; 60 x 5, 4; 65 x 4, 3
  • Barbell Muscle-up: 115 x 5; 135 x 5; 145 x 4, 4, 3
  • cns prime: reverse grip to regular grip muscle-up combo (pull-up variety) x 2
  • weighted reverse grip pull-ups: 45 x 5; 90 x 3, 3, 3, 2

5 total rounds.  Speed on the concentric portion of every rep was fast as possible.

A couple of questions I hear in person, or field via email:

“Dude, you do a lot of pull-ups…”

I consider pull-ups analogous to sprints for the upper body – the most fundamental of fundamental movements.

“Dude, you do a ton more posterior chain work than you do quad/squat work…”

1. I do a lot of fixie riding, which is mostly quad-intensive work.

2. It is my contention that the body is designed more for “pulling” in this fashion than it is for squatting.  I know well the arguments to the contrary, and I agree that every human being squats while taking a dump.  However, I don’t know of many cultures that take a dump with 500+ balanced upon their backs.  Seriously, though – I personally gauge lower-body performance in terms of sprinting vertical jump ability; in my experience, increasing one’s squat past a certain point (2 x bw is a general rule of thumb) doesn’t do much for an increase in speed or vert height.

11/22/09, More Towards Aggressive Play Than a Workout…

…still, it deserves a post:

Approximately 30 minutes worth of Fixie interval sprints, followed by:

  • 200 yard sprint/strides @ 80+% (100 yards, pause, 100 yards) barefooted, artificial turf.
  • straight bar muscle-ups x 3
  • ballistic ring flyes x 5
  • sprint starts x 20 yards x 3
  • navel-high box jumps x 3

5 rounds.  This was more to take advantage of the beautiful, crisp day than to pursue a meaningful workout.  Nice to get out and about.  The onset of winter will limit these types of opportunities to few and far between in the coming months.