Touchstones, Part Duex…and a Blast From the Past

…I feel like a wet seed wild in the hot blind earth…

That’s William Faulkner, whose birthday was Sunday.  And who, together with Cormac McCarthy, have produced all the literature I’ll ever really need.  All else, while nice enough, is simply superfluous.

And speaking of “a hot wild seed in the blind earth”, check out this picture that my good friend, Tico Ramirez, dug up from God-knows-where:

Left to right: Your’s truly, Tico Ramirez, Marty Martinez.  Freshman year; 14 and clueless…

Funny story about that 77 number I’m sporting here.  Seems as if I was on a big Red Grange kick at the time (possibly my first meaningful foray into history?), and figured that if Red could be a stud running back, and sport an oh-so-cool, iconic 77, well then so the hell could I.   I badgered the living crap out of our head coach until he relented and let me wear a number that, due to my being a running back, required me to get a “referee waver” (or some such) prior to each game.  I definitely remember there being a per-game performance clause attached to my wearing that particular number; smart coach.  Properly correlated and applied, incentives give us something to bite into, something to focus upon, and provide just the right nudge when the going gets tough.

Sprint repeats?  Check.  Deadlifts?  Check.  Ring muscle-ups?  Ugh…

Not without help, big guy. Better get to work...

So this past week — and continuing with the touchstones theme that I covered here — I decided to check-in on my deadlift and ring muscle-up performance.  At a body weight of 210 lbs, I cranked-out a crisp 7 reps at 435.  Not bad, for me, at least, on sprint and cycling-weary legs.  Muscle-ups on the rings, though, were another story.  My touchstone here is three, with no jump-assist, and with good, smooth form.  That I required jump assist on every rep indicates that I need to get back on the rings, and that straight bar muscle-ups (which I can fairly well knock out) just don’t compare in level of difficulty.  But, hey — no failures, only feedback, right?  Did it matter that on this particular day I decided to couple power snatches and ring muscle-ups in a super-set format for multiple rounds?  Nah, I don’t think so.  The press-up and lock-out portion of the move was fine — what killed me was the pull-up; felt like I was pulling up through a tub of molasses.  The prescription?  A slow build-up back to full-on ring muscle-ups.  I should be back is the saddle by this November 10th — my 47th birthday 🙂  Incentive?  Like fine wine, I want to continually get better at the finer aspects of fitness.

The Sunday MetCon

Another great day to get out of the gym and onto the track/field.

  • 5 x 30 second all-out sprint for distance (approximately 200 meters).  Full recovery between sprints.  Hit drop-off on the 5th sprint.  Then:
1. tire flip x 10 (8, then 7 on subsequent rounds)
2. 60 yrd sprint
3. 20 ft. rope climb
4. 30 ft parallel bar walk (hand-over)
5.  rebound alternating chins & pulls x 6
6. 30 ft monkey bar
7.  rebound alternating chins & pulls x 6
wash, rinse, repeat for 3 rounds.
In health,

Of Sprinting, and Leptin Signaling Mimetics

My good friend Chris Highcock, of Conditioning Research, (and he by way of Andrew Badenoch, of Evolvify) clued me into the recent Journal of Applied Physiology article, Is sprint exercise a leptin signaling mimetic in human skeletal muscle?  

I won’t delve into the interesting details of this paper, as Chris has already done a wonderful job of that here, but I would like to add just a few of my own thoughts about these findings.

What’s more important, vis-a-vis, weight loss — diet or exercise?

I’ll get into this a bit more in a future post, but as a Physical Culture 2.0, new breed fitness educator, I am the interface between geeked-out science, empirical wisdom and a general public searching for accurate and articulate answers, to help them make sense of the never-ending, fire-hydrant-like gusher of (often times) conflicting diet and fitness “truths”.  Two big obstacles that I have to overcome in performing this function, though, are (1) that my answers are predicated upon a base understanding of a movement (Physical Culture 2.0), which itself requires the acceptance of there being no black-and-white answers — that in all instances, the notion of n=1 and “it depends” prevail, and (2) a general public which is too tired/stressed/overwhelmed with day-to-day life to undertake the due-diligence required for such an understanding; a general public who only has time for the ingestion of pat answers.  You see the conundrum here.  And I’ll get to why this matters in relation to this particular study in a moment, but for now let’s take a quick look at an extension of the above-mentioned study’s findings — the performance of fasted-state, High Intensity Interval Training.

Fasted HIIT (or, don’t let lack of scientific underpinnings spoil the empirical results)

Dan John has articulated as much in some of his prior writings, but let’s just say that you’ve followed a Paleo-like diet for 30 days (ala Robb Wolf, or Whole9), coupled that with adhering to a basic 5 x 5 weightlifting scheme and, lo-and-behold, at the end of that trial period you find yourself having dropped 30 lbs of fat and gained 5 lbs of muscle.  Now, did you lose that fat because you physically ingested fewer calories, or did that fat loss come as the result of a favorable hormonal cascade established by the diet and/or workout scheme itself?  Or what it some other combination thereof?  And hey, “everyone” knows that one cannot simultaneously lose fat and gain muscle, but your little experiment just proved the contrary.   And here’s the thing: do you really friggin’ care that you’re treading on shaky scientific ground?  Does lack of scientific confirmation negate your results?  Is the fact that you had to punch three new holes in your belt and that your shirts are now fitting tight across the shoulders (instead of across the gut) somehow now irrelevant?

I don’t bring this up so as to promote a Flat Earth Society mentality when it comes to matters of Physical Culture, but more so as to put some prospective on the weight afforded to the supporting science (or lack thereof, as the case may be) in this area of study.  In other words, empirical evidence means a hell of a lot to me.  Pondering the “whys” behind an empirically-proven methodology’s efficacy —  intellectually invigorating as it may be — ought not get in the way of actually utilizing that methodology in the real world.  I can always go back and tweak a methodology accordingly, depending upon the outcome of follow-on science.  That I cannot articulate precisely and unquestionably (as supported by science) what, at the cellular level, is precisely occurring as a consequence of HIIT training does not prevent me from utilizing this method of training or, more importantly, from reaping the benefits.  We’ve long known, in the strength and conditioning community, that performing HIIT in a fasted state just obliterates body fat even while precipitating lean muscle gain.  Of course, there was the ever-present chorus of “there’s just no relevant science to support that claim” who presumably sat this one out, waiting for scientific conformation one way or the other.  In the training of horses, though, as in the training of athletes, the proof is in the final product.  Can these methods be more finely tuned in light of prevailing science?  You bet.  Wait for the perfect answer, though, and you’ll never get under the bar or put spikes on the field.  In other words, get in the game, and don’t allow the perfect to get in the way of the good.

This sprint/leptin study is a good case-in-point to what I’m attempting to articulate in this post.  We know, empirically, that fasted HIIT works –

*note – I am extrapolating here, as this particular study only considered the performance of a single sprint on the resultant hormonal cascade.

– and now we see, presumably, one important (and no doubt interesting!) pathway in which this scenario plays out.  We also see that being fasted (at least carbohydrate fasted) is an important part of the overall equation, here (if weight loss is a mitigating factor), and so we can now tweak our methods accordingly, and rock on.

So what’s more important in weight management, diet or exercise? 

Asking a badly articulated/constructed question is worse than asking no question at all; the problem is that the person to whom the question is directed will feel an obligation to offer-up an answer, ham-strung as it may be.  Construct a question that legitimates a sound-bite answer and you’ll get exactly that (Poli-Sci/Stats 101).  You’ll also get an answer that only approximates the truth of the matter, if that.  Of what relevance is this to the sprint/leptin study?  Well, let’s consider how best to achieve a long-term fasted state to begin with, and still have the energy required to tackle a HIIT-like training session with adequate intensity.  The short answer here is that we’ll need to first establish an enzymatic and hormonal underpinning resultant of following a Paleo-like diet.   The blood-sugar roller-coaster resultant of a (for instance) Standard American Diet will throw a monkey wrench into the works from the get-go.  I see this play out all-too-frequently in real-world practice.  That far-far-away look in the middle of a HIIT throw-down?  Yeah, that’s blood-sugar crash, up close, ugly and personal, kiddos.  At the same time, though, we know that intense physical exercise potentates the expression of that same desirable enzymatic/hormonal underpinning.  So what we’re really talking about here, of course, is synergy.  Synergy is slippery, though, and not easily accounted for in a standardized-testing, sound-bite-answer world.  The masses want easily-digestible answers (especially if provided by Oz, Oprah, et al) and synergy simply doesn’t play in that house.  Sorry to disappoint, but there it is.  You can no more bust ass in the gym and on the field, eat crap and expect phenotypical perfection than you can eating as a Paleo purist while abstaining from (at least some modicum) of repeated, physical exertion.  And no, computer jockying does not count as “repeated physical exertion”.

Synergy, my friends; diet and exercise — it’s the one-two punch, and the only way I know, to attain phenotypical perfection.

Sunday’s MetCon circuit –

Being under a bit of a time crunch didn’t prevent me from sneaking this one in.  Short, sweet, and to the point.

– 10 second sprint

– 20 ft. rope climb

– 30 ft parallel bar hand-over walk

– 20 yd dual hops

– 5 muscle-ups

– 30 ft hand-over monkey bar traverse

– 7 tire flips (+ 5 extra on the last round)

wash, rinse, repeat x 3.

Trivia for the day – 26 tire flips = 51 yards (football field sideline to sideline) 🙂

In health,


A Quick Study in Contrasts

Since I have no specific athletic or body composition goal in mind — other than chasing the fullest, most well-rounded expression of my phenotype — I’m at liberty to explore, to the widest extent, the speed-strength continuum and the force-velocity curve.  In English?  I get to dabble with my workouts, mix it up; have fun and do what I feel like doing on a particular day, versus worrying about what I need to accomplish to realize a specific goal.   Life is all about balance, and I’ve had plenty of periods in my life where my training, out of the necessity of chasing a specific goal, was much more directed and pin-pointed.  Now is not one of those times.  Now is a period of — for lack of a more perfect term — loosely controlled chaos.

To illustrate my point, consider this 3-day snapshot of time from last week:

Thursday: power cleans; working up to 7x max singles.  The work-ups were performed over an approximate 4-hour period, between client training sessions, with the 7 singles coming in a continuous, 20-minute or so, time block.

Friday: a traditional, bodybuilding-like, arm routine; supersets of bi and tri work — in this case, straight bar bi curls and cable push downs — with each movement range of motion performed in two different “zones” in a basic JRep methodology.

Saturday: a little bit of MetCon fun; 4 rounds of a front squat/farmer’s walk combo.  This clip is kinda dark, but you get the idea.

Big hat tip to Meesus TTP for filming this immediately following her own Efficient Exercise-style, total-body dust-up.  Way to be a gamer, my darling!

Oh, and be sure to check-out this recent post from Scott Abel, Adhering to Real World Principles: Understanding Max Load Training.  There are no bad training methodologies, just bad applications of existing methodologies.  Know what it is you’re trying to affect, and choose the appropriate method.

And finally, here are a couple of clips (here and here) of some our Efficient Exercise “trainer training the trainer” series; something we hope to do more of in the near future.  These two are an example of some mixed methodology training — in this case, some classic pre-exhaust (using basic some basic zone and JReps concepts, here), followed by a complex movement using ARX Fit technology.  ARX equipment allows for some severe envelope-pushing under fatigue, as one need not worry with mishandling the load.  Good, good stuff.  Of course, there are many ways (and arguments for each) in coupling the exercises in the 2nd clip; I chose to end this particular routine with triceps, though one could easily argue for pre-exhausting the tris prior to delving into the overhead press.  The “pick a horse and ride” analogy works well in this case 🙂

In health — and happy labor Day!


A Nifty Little Sprint Complex

Deal with the Devil if the Devil has a constituency – and don’t complain about the heat –

C. J. Cherryh

Not complaining, just sayin’, you know; 106-degrees F at the time I performed this little sprint routine, on the way to the day’s high of 111.  No telling how friggin’ hot it was out on the artificial turf; let’s just say it was blazingly so.  But hey, like CJ says — deal with the Devil and his constituency, and roll the hell on…  🙂

Here we go –

– knee to chest jumps for max height, as little a pause as possible between jumps.  x 7 reps

– 10 second, max effort sprint for distance (drop-off technique)

– tennis ball goalpost “dunks”, x 7

– dual leg hops x 30 yds (90 feet), fast as possible and covering the distance in as few hops as possible (again, utilizing the drop-off technique, here).

– “drum major” (stiff-leg) sprint x 40 yards.

Wash, rinse, repeat for 6 rounds.  Sweat a ton, get a bit queasy, lounge like a lizard the rest of the day.

A few notes on this one:

  • I’d originally intended to push until hitting drop-offs in both the dual-leg hops and the sprints — however, I pulled the plug after hitting drop-off in the hops only; discretion being the better part of valor today, due to the heat.  I probably had another 2 or three top-end sprints in the tank.
  • I covered right at 80 yards in each 10 second sprint today; self-timed, on turf, standing start.  Not bad for an old goat.
  • I covered the 90 ft distance in 11 dual-leg hops today, with the last round requiring an additional jump.
  • about 30 seconds recovery between exercises, except for following the 10-second sprint and the dual-leg hops, in which case there was an approximate 1 minute recovery.
Where does something like this fall on the Exercise-Activity spectrum?  Well, again, one man’s “play” is another man’s workout; the dividing line between the two, for me, is predominant fast-twitch fiber involvement.  I’ll get into this a little more in future posts, but a decided lack of fast-twitch fiber involvement in an activity makes that activity of little value in enhancing/preserving muscle tissue and, therefore, in helping one battle against the scourge of sarcopenia specifically and, more broadly, diseases of affluence.
Plenty of fast-twitch activation here, so we’ll bump this one near the “exercise” end of the spectrum.
In health,

The Four T’s — Tools, Techniques, Time and Tenacity

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

True for many aspects in life, but no more so than in the pursuit of a long and successful life in the game of Physical Culture 2.0.

And what exactly *is* Physical Culture 2.0?  Well, in essence, it’s the fully integrated pursuit of a healthy and vibrant existence, including (but certainly not limited to) looking to our evolutionary past to construct a scaffolding upon which to layer ever more effective and efficacious “technologies” (both modern and stone-age) so as to produce an exquisite phenotypical expression of one’s self onto the world.

And speaking of Physical Culture 2.0, here’s Skyler Tanner and yours truly speaking truth to power about this emerging paradigm shift from what is currently understood as Physical Culture (or PC 1.0, if you will) at the August 2011 Ancestral Health Symposium:

…and the presentation’s accompanying slide show.

Revolution vs Transcendence

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the emergence of Physical Culture 2.0 is a healthy, lasting process — less so an anarchistic revolution as it is a phenomenon of transcendence — the building upon (“transcending” in every sense of the word) that which has come before; even that which we might be quick to label “malicious” at best.  Carrying forward that which is good and helpful, and simply leaving behind (and with no emotional attachment) that which is not helpful.  No failures, only feedback.  Learning from previous mistakes; moving forward with no baggage — emotional or otherwise — to drag about.

And while team sports certainly have their role in PC 2.0, for the most part, this is an n=1-driven phenomena; self-mastery, self-betterment…self-knowledge.

The Four T’s

…or one person’s “play” is another person’s metcon…

I’ll speak more to the idea of Exercise vs Activity (or play) in an upcoming post, but for now, let’s just say that activity (or play) to ===> exercise is an n=1-specific continuum, and concentrate here on tools, techniques, time and tenacity; the immutable laws of Physical Culture.  As a correlate to the four T’s, consider the speed of light and its position as an immutable law of physics.  Just as David Duetsch would say that anything is possible so long as it does not violate the immutable laws of physics, so too is our ability to transform ourselves, in a phynotypical sense, so long as we properly manipulate these four tenants of Physical Culture (diet being the other side of the same coin, of course, and with it’s own set of “immutables”).  Now this isn’t so “woo-woo” as it might first appear.  Let’s, for the sake of argument, consider my last outdoor metcon outing, which went a little something like this:

100 meter sprint

6, rapid-succession, tennis ball goalpost “dunks”

30′ parallel bar “sprint”

60′ dual-leg hops

30′ monkey bar “sprint”

5 tractor tire flips + immediate 40 yd sprint

20 yard blocking sled (think heavy-ass Prowler) push

60 yd change-of-direction sprint

Wash, rinse, and repeat x3.  I won’t get into a full-on explanation of all the individual elements (I’ll post a video of this in the near future), or hella-bitch about the temperature being a nice one-ohh-whatever-the-fuc! outside during this particular shindig…

Ozzie says, "Texas heat blows, yo!"

…no, actually what I want to do is look at this workout through the tools, techniques, time and tenacity lens.

…enter “the study”…

From the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, consider the following:


What’s the take-home message here?  Quite simply, this: that Sprint (or High Intensity) Interval Training — even at moderate intensities — can impart some pretty damn impressive physiological adaptations.  That’s smart and efficient training, folks; training, by the way, that requires little in the way of tools and, if performed moderately (or “scaled”, if you prefer), only a modicum of tenacity.

Additionally, I’ll tell you this about HIIT/SIT: this manner of training will, in short order, devour an enormous amount of calories, both during — and for many hours following —  said exercise bout.  And while the metabolism remains jacked for up to 24 hours following a SIT/HIIT bout, there is an even more important shift taking place in the musculature at the fiber-type level: a preferential shift to fast-twitch dominance and a preservation of this fiber type (Bending the Aging Curve, from the above-sited talk and slide presentation). In addition, there will be an up-regulation of anaerobic, ATP, and aerobic enzyme activity.  In other words, all energy systems will become more efficient at generating energy and burning calories.

Simply put, training in the anaerobic-glycolytic pathway via proper manipulations of SIT/HIIT methodologies up-regulates all energy pathways (yes, including aerobic oxidation), making them more efficient and, as a result, making you a better conditioned Physical Culturalist.  So high-intensity exercise elicits a high output from all metabolic energy systems — however, this does not work both ways. Training for endurance (aerobically, i.e., long and slow) will not lead to equal up-regulation of  ATP and CP or anaerobic glycolytic enzyme activity/pathways, simply because aerobic type training does not stress these systems.

Now, let’s shift environments (and available tools), and see if we can produce the same type of metabolic effect using old-school black iron.  Check out this workout from earlier in the week.  I also ran a few of my more advanced clients through this same, Martin Rooney inspired, black iron circuit, which can, of course, be scaled (or exercises can be swapped) so as to suit any ability level.  Remember the emphasis here is on metcon/energy system training, not strength, per se.  Since the “rules of the game” are such that I have a 30-minute time limit, and that I’ll need to rely on old-school tools to accomplish the task, I’ll have to select exercises that can be performed safely under some pretty severe fatigue.  Uhhh, so yeah — that means Oly lifts/derivatives are out 😉

So here’s what I ended up with:

power sumo DLs x 10

T-bar swings x 20

alternating lead-foot BTN jerks x 10 total

wash, rinse, repeat x3.

Tough?  Yeah, you bet your sweet ass it is.  But the cool thing is that anyone, in any condition, can perform this basic theme (scaling and/or subbing exercises where necessary) and — as the study sited above demonstrates — derive some fantastic benefits from it.  So my “play” might be somebody else’s beat-down, but that’s the beauty of this Physical Culture thing — it’s all about the n=1 experience.

In health,


3/23/10; Single-Leg Emphasis MetCon Circuit, and Of Being a Jack of Two Trades, but a Master of Neither (and it’s a good thing)

I certainly don’t mean this in a derogatory sense — far from it — this is simply the makings of a well-rounded athlete.

There is, of course, a wide range of phenotypical expression among athletes (and weekend warriors), along the explosive-elastic continuum.  Swedish sprinter/weightlifter Lena Berntsson is a fine example of a well-trained athlete who happens to fall somewhere in the “ripe” middle of this continuum — though probably leaning more toward the explosive side of things, as evidenced by her propensity for (and relative success in), the short sprints.

Lena’s in lane 4 of the finals, here — the 2nd race in this clip.

I’ve written a few prior posts (here’s one) on the vertical jump as a good measure of explosiveness and as an indicator of overall athleticism.  But let’s be realistic as to what we’re measuring for.  The vert is a good indicator of explosiveness, and, as such, is a good indicator of probable prowess in explosive-leaning sports.  Now, a 60 meter sprint and an Olympic lift may seem to be similar endeavors, but consider this: the winning 60 meter sprint time above was 7.4-ish seconds, whereas an Oly snatch, for example, requires a burst of approximately 1.5 seconds.  A good deal of elasticity is required to perform well in even a short sprint — but in an Olympic lift?  Elasticity need not apply.

We know that, to some extent, explosiveness can be trained.  But what of elasticity?  We’ll consider that in future posts.

Today’s workout was a single-leg gig with a MetCon feel.  This required approximately 30 minutes to nail, following the warm-ups.  Two rounds of this were performed as “primers”, and I have not included those here.  These are the “meat” rounds.

single-leg box squat: (each leg) 20lb dbs x 5; 30lb vest + 20lb dbs x 6, 6, 6

single-leg barbell deadlifts: (each leg) 115 x 5; 125 x 6, 6, 6

weighted dips: 45 x 6; 70 x 6; 80 x 6, 6, 6

weighted reverse-grip pull-ups: 45 x 5; 70 x 5; 80 x 4, 4, 3

4 total rounds here, with an additional round of dips and pull-ups.  My legs were too fried to attempt the “bonus” round.  Very slow negatives on the box squats, with the emphasis put on not collapsing onto the box at the near-parallel position.  Attempt these and you’ll know exactly what I mean by “attempt not to collapse”.

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.


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,

2/25/10, MetCon, Unilaterals

Under a work-related time constraint today, so I had to hurry it up a bit.  A very simple two-fer MetCon superset to kick things off, then a single-leg thruster/single-leg deadlift superset to finish-up.  Not very sexy, I know — but effective?  Hell yeah.

Whip Snatch to Overhead Squat: 95 x 6, 6; 115 x 5, 4, 4  (3 ass-to-grass, bottom-of-the-movement “cycle squats*” on each rep)
Ab Wheel Roll-Outs: x 8 each round

5 total rounds.  Want to see just how much your “core” contributes to your ability to “grip it and whip it” and upon your ability to maintain OHS stability?  Try that little superset as an experiment.

*Cycle squats: from the bottom-out position of the squat, come up to the thighs parallel position, then drop right back down to the atg position.  Do that three times, then on the forth “up”, come all the way up to the starting position.  That’s one rep.  Reload, and hit it again.  Evil?  Uh-huh.  Effective?  You bet.

Then it was on to a unilateral superset of single-leg step-ups (on the Atlantis machine) and single-leg dumbbell deadlifts.  I like to think of these single-leg step-ups as “sprinter’s starts” since they so closely approximate the initial step out of the blocks.  Building appreciable strength in this motion is, of course,  an admirable goal.  However, this is a perfect example of a movement that that can be strength-trained to a detriment.   In other words, strength gains, at the expense of like-movement speed, results in a crippling of that like-movement power output.  Of course there’s also the notion of the weak-link in the chain to consider (my right leg’s squat/dl ability), which is what I’m attempting to rectify over the next few weeks.  All part of the Yin-Yang, push-pull nature of things.  Find the weakness and address it.

Single-leg step-ups (Atlantis machine): 90 x 8; 180 x 7, 7
Single-leg DB deadlifts: 80 x 7, 7, 7

3 rounds.  Right leg is feeling better, stronger and more stable every day.