Back in the Gym, Tubers, IF, and “Eating to Gain”

I always feel a tad bit “slow” in my first explosive workout following a lengthy layoff; and yeah, 5 days completely off is, for me, quite a prolonged bit of down-time.  My theory is that keeping the CNS primed (amped, hyped, what have you) for explosive movement is metabolically expensive, and is therefore quickly down-regulated when the body senses that it is not required for “survival”.  And to that end (seeking to “jazz” my CNS a bit prior to each “money” movement), I opted to perform a ballistic, similar-like motion in immediate advance of performing the main movements of choice in today’s workout.  Those two exercises were a DB snatch (cred) + push-press (x2) + jerk combo, and an ab wheel roll-out.

The resulting complex looked like this:

drop + rebound jump: x 5, each round
cred + single-arm push-press x 2 + single-arm jerk x 1 combo: 75 x 5, 5; 85 x 3, 3; 90 x 3
straight bar muscle-up: bodyweight: x 2, each round
ab wheel roll-out: bodyweight: x 7, 7, 10, 10, 10
5 total rounds

drop + rebound jump: step off of a low box (approx 18″ high) and, immediately upon ground contact, spring up and over a subsequent, taller (approx. waist-high) box.  Focus on minimal ground contact time.

cred combo: number of reps indicates number of db snatches performed prior to the presses for that arm; i.e., 5 snatches (at 75 #) with the right arm and, immediately following the 5th snatch, perform the press/jerk portion of the combo with the same arm.  Then switch to the left arm and repeat the process; 5 snatches followed by the presses/jerk.

Why only 2 muscle-ups per round?  Because beyond the second rep I know that (from experience), I shift from a speed-strength/RFD emphasis to more of a strength-speed emphasis.  It’s purely a speed of execution thing.  In this case, I’m simply looking for a CNS stimulus in this particular movement pattern, I’m not looking to work the movement pattern, per se.  There is a difference, albeit subtle.

ab wheel roll-outs: now I am looking to work this particular movement pattern (notice how a full roll-out is a very similar movement pattern to a straight-bar muscle-up).  Full extension, minimal knee/body ground contact.  Lead with the butt on the concentric portion of the movement and don’t allow the hips to sag/sink in the eccentric portion.

Questions?  Answers!

TTP reader Alejandro (noted in italics) writes:

I first want to thank you for putting all this content out there (in your site). Your story is really inspiring and definitely shows amazing results. I started almost a year ago, for health reasons. I was 19 and had digestive issues which all cleared up a couple of months into paleo. Because of the results paleo has had on my health it has been really easy to stick to it (+ the food is amazing anyways). I have also started lifting, and here is where my questions arise.
– Friends at the gym are advising me to eat massive amounts of food. Since I started paleo I have just eaten when I feel hungry, I went from 155lbs to 135lbs (I am 5’6, stabilized at 135lbs). I don’t know my bf% but I can see my upper 4 abs, the only sport I used to do before lifting is racquetball  and I don’t have much muscle on. Should I eat when I am hungry or should I make a conscious effort to eat more. My friends always go through cut/bulk cycles, I would prefer to be fairly lean through out the year. What is your opinion on this?

The old school “eat to gain” idea is, in my opinion, totally misguided/outdated information.  Not that all “old school” guys advocated the notion, either, as Vince Gironda thought the idea was ludicrous; yet another example of the Iron Guru being light-years ahead of the pack.  Given the proper stimulus (weight training), the body will more than adequately adjust appetite to compensate for growth.  You need do no more than what you’re doing now — eat to satiation, and eat when hungry.  The only time I’d advocate (slight) overeating is in the case of someone wanting to gain bulk for unique, sport-specific reasons — an American football, offensive lineman, for instance.

Training-wise, you’ll want to identify if your goals lean more toward aesthetics or sport-specific betterment, as this will determine (in a gross way), how your workouts will be structured.

– I read in one of your posts that you eat tubers. Is this right? I also share the same idea that tubers could be an integral part of the paleo diet. I have tested to see how I react to eating tubers (sweet potatoes, cassava, taro, malanga, etc), they cause me no problem. But how much tuber do you think is proper? Do you try to go for a certain % of carbs in your diet? What is your opinion on the whole tuber issue?

I think tubers — and just about any root food for that matter — are fantastic carbohydrate sources.  Your intake ought to be personalized as to your diet intent (i.e., fat loss, maintenance, etc.), allowing for upswings in times of maintenance, and reductions if weight loss becomes an issue.  I don’t personally count calories, macro-nutrient percentages, meal frequencies, or whatever, nor do I advocate anyone else doing so (there are, though, always unique exceptions).  I simply eat what I feel like eating within the Paleo umbrella, to satiation, and when I’m hungry.  Due to cooking methods/options/recipes, I naturally eat more tubers, roots and such in the winter, and less in the summer.  Do a little n=1 experimentation on yourself and see how you respond to varying amounts in your own diet.

– I was fasting about 1 day a week before starting to lift but stopped after my friends advised me to. Given the benefits of fasting it is something I would like to keep in my lifestyle. Do you think fasting 1 day a week will hinder my gains?

Not at all — in fact IF’ing will serve to enhance your gains in the long run.  At first glance, this may seem counter-intuitive, however, look at things from a metabolic/hormonal/enzymatic optimization point-of-view, and you’ll see the opposite is actually true.  If anything, I’d have you (being still at somewhat of a high BF/low muscle-mass ratio) IF twice per week, 17 — 24-hours a pop.  And, under “every-day” circumstances (and if possible), always workout in a 10 -12 hour fasted state.

Artisana Coconut Butter

“As you live, believe in life. Always human beings will live and profess to greater, broader and fuller life. The only possible death is to lose belief in this truth simply because the great end comes slowly, because time is long.”

W.E.B. Du Bois

Seriously Good Stuff!

Seriously Good Stuff!

You may have heard me mention Artisana’s Raw Organic Coconut Butter before — maybe in a tweet, or in the TTP Facebook group, or elsewhere — but let me officially pronounce in this TTP post that I am, in fact, a HUGE fan of this product.  In fact, to throw a little SAT-like word association at you, Artisana’s Raw Coconut butter is to whole coconut as Vibrams are to footware.  Yeah, it’s that good.

So, how do you eat it?  In any way you have normally (in your pre-Paleo days, of course) eaten peanut butter — except, needless to say, on bread, crackers or the like.  Right out of the jar works pretty well for me.  Or mix a bit with a bite of fruit, or with some raw nuts.  Avocado, tomato, bacon and coconut butter?  You bet.  Here’s a great snack idea: I like to spread out some raw pecans and melt a generous portion of coconut butter over them; sometimes I’ll add a bit of raw butter to this concoction as well.  Let your imagination run wild.  And for those who are new to the Paleo game, or otherwise caught in the throes of a serious carb Jones, consider Artisana’s Raw Organic Coconut Butter as your methadone.  Beating the carb Jones is one of the serious bug-a-boos (the other being “social alienation”) that folks new to the Paleo way must navigate prior to reaching the clear, wide open, Paleo seas.  Got a carb pang going on?  A tablespoon or two of Artisana’s will beat it back.  I’ve long suggested tablespoons of olive, coconut, or fish oil for the same purposes and received the old “crinkley nose” response.  I can just imagine the “old timer” Paleo now:

…yeah, I remember when all we had to beat back the carb Jones was coconut and olive oil — hell, even fish oil — young people today…

Anyway, the stuff is seriously good to eat.  Pick some up and give it a shot.  You’ll be oh so glad you did.

Long-term low calorie intake, and the subsequent rebound re-feed

It’ll be quite some time before I can speak about the events of last week in anything resembling an objective fashion.  However, it is worth noting in a venue such as this, the mental and physical stamina and stability provided as a result of adhering to a Paleo lifestyle.  Last week was characterized by unimaginable grief, and mental, physical and emotional anguish.  Couple this with extensive travel, physical exertion (moving, clearing out an apartment), two funeral services (with one more to go) and a precipitous lack of sleep.  Through it all, though, I never wandered into the low blood sugar “hinterland”; to be sure, hunger — true hunger — sprang up from time to time, though it was not the shaky hands and body, cold sweat “gotta eat right damn now kind of hunger characteristic of a high carbohydrate diet.  In fact, because the Paleo hunger has no real side affects other than a craving for something substantial, it was quite easy to keep it pushed back and held at bay.  I have no way of knowing what my caloric intake was day-to-day over the last week, but I do know that it was minuscule as compared to my norm — even as compared to my non-workout-day norm.  I mostly ate one — and a couple of days, two — small Paleo meals per day over the stretch, and this following a very long initial fasting period.  I augmented with spoonfuls of raw nut butters and coconut butter here and there as the opportunities arose.   In fact, most days of the last week I took in no carbohydrates at all — no fruit and/or vegetables.  I am back home now, and I can report that my hunger is rapacious — especially for high-quality protein and fat — I just can’t seem to top the tank off for long.  Within 3 or 4 hours of a healthy feeding, I’m ready for another round.  Of course I’m eating clean, giving my body what it’s asking for.  I may even head out to the playground tomorrow.

In health,