Paleo 101, Workin’ the Groove, and Settling In

Since Monday was a holiday (here in the US, at least), I figured it would be a great time to ease into the Austin fixie scene, get a feel for traffic patterns and, well, just the overall vibe and such.  And what I found was this: Austin is definitely a bike-friendly town; courteous drivers, plentiful bike lanes, fabulous rolling hills, too many ultra-cool coffee shops to count…wow, fixie paradise!  I went into the Efficient Exercise Rosedale studio and did a little bit of prep work for my Tuesday clients, then saddled-up and hit a series of sprints over to our downtown ATX studio to do some prep work for those clients (see my route, here).  Five miles of hard intermittent sprinting each way was a nice, bodily reintroduction to the biking experience.   How’s that for mixing business with pleasure, huh?  Yeah, to say the least, I’m lovin’ this new gig  🙂

So today following my client sessions I decided to ease back into the weightlifting scene by hitting some power cleans and close-grip high pulls.  Nothing real radical or too strenuous, just climbing back onto the on-ramp, so to speak.

power cleans: 135 x 10; 165 x 7; 185 x 3, 3, 3, 3, 2, 2

close-grip high pulls: 185 x 5, 5, 5, 5

Now, the Efficient Exercise downtown facility is chock-full of Nautilus MedEx equipment (along with a ton of other really cool play toys!), and so following my client sessions tomorrow (I train clients at the downtown facility on Wednesdays), I plan on hitting a Mentzer-inspired HIT session.   Again, more so to ease into things here.  As I’ll have to take substantial training time off in order to move into my new house in about a week (way excited about this!  Moving that is — not the missed workouts part  🙂  ), I’ll have to repeat this phase-in process once more.  And I don’t look at this as a setback, either — rather, I take the long view, and see this as a necessity to remain in the game for the long-haul.  It’s a great time to focus on technique flaws, form alterations (and abominations!)…small things that tend to get glossed-over when the training focus is on “hard, heavy and fast”.  Everything under the sun has its season. 

Oh, and I heard this yesterday on NPR’s “The Human Edge” series; a little bit of Paleo 101, if you will.  If you’re looking for a tidy intro, of sorts, for friends and family who want to now the most basis of all questions that we get asked in relation to our diet selections — why the overt avoidance of neolithic foods?  — this piece is a nice, concise referenceIt’s an easy answer, of course — but sometimes, though, it’s good for people to hear that same answer from multiple sources.

The Yin-Yang of Genetics and Epigenetics, the Dieting Yo-Yo Woe, Oprah Style…Again, and, Oh Yeah, a Workout

Ahh, the intersection of genetics and epigenetics; and, hey, let’s go ahead and add a little quantum mechanics and spirituality in for good measure.

This recent SI article covers the genetics/epigenetics terrain well, and it’s well-written, too; always an added plus in my book.  Look, the bottom line is this, folks — you are not at the mercy of, or a slave to, your genetic hand.  The flip-side of this is, of course, that you can’t rest on your laurels, either.  I’m in full agreement with the notion that, as children, we are “programmed” to act fully in compliance with our given blueprint in as much as that coincides with both our culture and socio-economic climate.  East Africans run, from an early age; Jamaicans sprint.  Couple a favorable early environment with the right genetic hand (including the proper “drive” genetics), and the resultant phenotype comes away with a hands-down advantage over his lesser “advantaged” competitor.

I’ve mentioned this before, but this Nike commercial really resonates with me.  When I was a kid, I was nothing if not a perpetual motion machine.  My poor mom; I don’t think there’s any way for me to make up for what I put her through.

Sheesh; thanks again, mom.

OK, but what if your blueprint and/or environment wasn’t so advantageous?  Can you right the ship?

Hell yeah you can.  When we get down to brass-tacks, we’re all comprised of nothing but pure energy.  Every cell in our body is completely turned over at least every seven years.  To steal a rif from today’s post in  Seth Godin’s blog (in reference to this story), “All you need to know is that it’s possible.”

All that’s required is a spark.  Remember, there is no try, there is only do.  Will you trip at times?  Out and out fail?  Yeah, you will.  But with that spark, you’ll immediately self-recognize the instigating barrier, and navigate it successfully the next time out.

[Edit, 5/14/10 – here’s an interesting PBS News Hour interview with the author of the above cited SI article, David Epstein.]

Moving on…

Today’s early AM workout was preceded by yesterday evening’s hour-and-a-half worth of mixed intensity saddle time; an hour-and-a-half that was broken, about midway through, by a long red-eye break at my favorite Rocky Mount caffeine purveyor, Via Cappaccino.  This is one of the best restorative forms of exercise that I can think of.  The fixie riding, that is — not necessarily the coffee quaffing.

I’m still nursing a tweaky lower back from Monday’s biking near-miss, so I had to account for that in cobbling together today’s iron session.  That said, here’s what went down:

As a superset:
Atlantis machine incline press: 180 x 10; 230 x 3; 275 x 2; 280 x (miss – stall-out at 3/4); 275 x 1
snatch grip high pull from a high hang: 135 x 7; 165 x 4; 185 x 3, 3, 3

*Each set of incline presses was receded by a set of 5 explosive, feet-elevated push-ups.

Bradford press: 3 sets of 10 (back to front, 1 cycle, equals 1 rep) @ 95 lbs

Zercher squats: 3 sets of 8 @ 135 lbs

Note: the Bradford press demonstrated in the provided link is a combination of full front and btn presses, whereas I, in order to more fully isolate/target the shoulders (and reduce triceps contribution), only press the bar high enough, in both the front and btn portion of the movement, to just clear my head.

Very little rest between any set of the above two exercises; I was still blowing pretty hard at the start of each subsequent movement.  Zercher squats were done today more as a low back rehab than anything else.  Zerchers, by the way, are a fantastic max effort exercise for the lower body, and teach excellent squat positioning and form.  Today, the higher rep, super-strict form was just what the doctor ordered for working the lower back just enough.  As well, I noticed that my legs were a bit gassed from all the saddle time I’ve put in as of late.  About the Atlantis incline choice — I’m not usually a machine kinda guy, but every now and again I will make an exception.  Today was one of those days.  This particular machine fits my body nicely, and so all I really lose out on here is stabilization work.  I’ll take that hit every now and again for the sake of adding variety to my workouts.

The Oprah Yo-Yo thang…again

Ugh!  What’s to say, other than this is really, really distressing.  C’mon girl, I know you’re much more intelligent than to remain stuck on this merry-go-round.  Seek real help; the information is out there for the taking.  We’ve been down this path before; remember?   Apparently, Oprah hosted Geneen Roth, author of Women, Food and God, who, from what I can gather from the link sited above, offers some valid points for consideration.  Now, I’m all about the psychological feel-good side to getting yourself together, however, one still has to live and function in the real-world, and that necessitates making real-world consumption decisions.  Long story short — the carb jones is still going to hand you your ass in the long run; the analogy here being that you either quit smoking altogether, or you’ll eventually return to your old, habitual levels.  There is no in between.

2/10/10, A Post-Activation Potentiation-Aided, Explosive Combo

Yeah that’s a friggin’ mouthful alright, but what it essentially boils down to is this – I inserted a couple of heavy partial movements in the middle of (and purely to set up) the final few rounds of this morning’s explosive combo pairing.  Heavy farmer’s walks kicked things off again today.  Talk about a shock to the system right out of the gate.  And again I hit a few sets of light overhead squats as part of my dynamic stretch warm-up.  Heavy-ass farmer’s walks and OHSs when you ought to still be snuggled-up tight in bed in the cold, pre-dawn?  Crazy, I know – but if being fit were easy, it’d be on the Mickey D’s menu, right?  Right.  Shouldered-up next to the happy meal.

Moving on to the meat of the AM’s workout; here’s the drill –

snatch-grip high pulls (bar to chin each rep)
135 x 5, 155 x 4, 175 x 4, (*) 4, 3, 3

ab wheel roll-outs (stay on toes, knees as required to “spot”)
x 6 for all rounds

weighted dips

45 x 6, 90 x 4, 115 x 2, (*) 3, 3, 3

*begin partial dips, snatch-grip rack pulls here

snatch-grip rack pulls
355 x 2, 2, 2

dip partials
135 x 2, 2, 2

Between-set rest was limited to that required to change loading and stations.  The rack pulls and dip partials were inserted prior to the last 3 rounds of high pulls and dips purely so as to set up those last rounds.  In other words, under normal circumstances (and with straight sets), there is no way I would have been able to complete the last 3 rounds of high pulls and dips, explosively, and with good form, with the weight I was using had I not set-up each set with a heavy set of partials (rack pulls and partial-range dips).

Really, this is simply yet another manipulation/utilization of the post-activation potentiation (or post-tetonic facilitation, if you prefer) “wave” protocol.  Does this tool work every time and for every situation?  No.  But when used in appropriate circumstances, it works wonders.  Two strength-speed exercises paired in a no-rest-between-sets combo is just such an opportunity.