4/22/10; Another 30-Minute Iron Blitz, and the Current Reading Rotation

I meant to publish this yesterday, but…chalk it up to “technical errors”.

First, the early AM iron blitz; another example of how much can be accomplished in a 30-(ish)-minute window.

bent-over barbell row: 225 x 5; 275 x 4, 4, 4

feet-elevated ring flyes: 30 lb vest x 8, 9, 9, 9

pistol squats: 30 lb vest + 15 lb DBs (60 lbs total) x 5, 5, 5, 5 each leg

Notes: the BOR’s were not done in the hyper-strict, “bodybuilding” fashion, but rather in more of a dynamic, get-the-glutes-and-hams-involved, explosive manner.  Think of performing an explosive RDL until the upper body reaches approximately 70-degrees, then continue the pull-through until the bar hits the area of the diaphragm, or a little below the sternum, where the ribcage meets.  Imagine attempting to blast the bar through to your spine.  The weight should be heavy enough to where the bar will just touch the area of your diaphragm, but the attempt to bruise your spine with the bar should be there just the same.

Some slight toe-off spotting with the “off-leg” on the last few reps in the last two sets of the pistols.

The current reading rotation:

What a weave these three books make!  As is my norm, I’ve got multiple reads, in disparate subjects, in current rotation.  I love the juxtaposition, and the way hopping subjects works my mind, and forces me to form out-of-the-box connections.

Einstein’s God — Just when you think you might have at least a loose grasp on it all — surprise! — you’re not even friggin’ close.  I love this book, and I’m a huge fan of Krista Tippett’s Speaking of Faith radio show.

Never Let Go — What more can be said that hasn’t already been said?  It’s like having a cold beer and a chat with your worldly-wise grandfather — if your grandfather were a high-caliber athlete.  Right on, Dan!

Lone Survivor — Marcus Luttrell’s story is absolutely captivating; Patrick Robinson, however, ought to win the worst ghostwriter of the century award.  God, what Cormac McCarthy could have done with this story, if Cormac wrote non-fiction.  Oh, the possibilities.

3/15/10; Unilateral and Ring Work…with a New Weight Vest!

“Beware the Ides of March”, huh? — hey, who says?  Meh,  maybe for Caesar, but not for me.  I tested out my newly-purchased (yea Craig’s List!) weight vest today, and it worked swimmingly; a great addition to the ol’ weightlifting toolbox!   Sorry to disappoint, Caesar.

I began today’s workout with an extended leg-centric warm-up, focusing on plenty of lateral lunges, “duck walks”, skip lunges, lunging “pick-ups”, and “Rockette” kicks.  The reason for this is that following an extended fixie session (I biked for approximately 2-and-a-half hours on Saturday), my legs and hips become rather tight/immobile; the down-side of the human body, simple machine interface.  The aforementioned exercises are a great way to loosen things back up.  And speaking of warm-ups, Mike Young (of Athletic Lab) has a great warm-up primer out on DVD.  Highly recommended stuff.  Give him a shout over at HPC and see if he has any more “misprints” remaining — the DVD, cover and insert were mislabeled as a “sprint mechanics” DVD.  High quality material at a much-reduced price.

Here’s how the meat of this morning’s workout shaped-up:

pistol squats: 15 lb DBs x 6 (each leg); 15 lb DBs + 30 lb vest x 5, 5, 4 (had to “spot” the right leg on each rep of last round)

elevated feet ring flyes: 30lb vest x 7, all rounds

single-leg deadlift (barbell): 135 x 6 (each leg); 135 + 30 lb vest x 6, 5, 5 (failed last round, left leg, at 3)

elevated feet ring flyes: 30lb vest x 7, all rounds

So, 4 total rounds — 4 sets of pistols and single-leg deads, and 8 total sets of ring flyes.  Very little rest between movements.  Elevated feet ring flyes beat the hell out of any kind flat-bench pressing motion, if you ask me.  It’s a more natural flye/pressing motion for one thing, more shoulder-friendly (via easily-manipulated hand positioning), and the entire body is engaged throughout the duration of the movement (think “praying man” plank to the nth degree).  Really, unless you’re a powerlifter, I really don’t see any need for a flat bench.   Need to blast the tris, you say?  Load-up a weight belt and hit dips — there is no better tri movement, in my opinion.

The right leg is slowly but surely catching up and getting back into the game.  I think what I’m dealing with here is a sleepy gluteus medius.  Identify the weakness, and correct it.

Tonight’s nosh (and tomorrow’s lunch): crock pot rabbit, and boiled & buttered beets.  Yum!

3/8/10, Unilaterals, Ring Work…and the Modern Politician as a Simple Tool

Yesterday’s fixie romp apparently hit my legs a little harder than what I’d figured, as I had to use slightly lighter weights, and my normal “snap” wasn’t as pronounced.  All-in-all, though, still a very productive workout.

Single-Leg Creds*: 50 x 3, 3; 60 x 3, 3, 3

Pistol Squats: 20 lb DBs x 5 each leg for each of the 5 rounds

Elevated Feet Ring Flyes: x 12 reps, each of the 5 rounds.

*The single-leg Cred takes a good deal of prior prep work, and this is not something that I’d recommend just jumping right into.  For starters, if you’ve got wishy-washy stabilizers in your hips/lower back, the movement will wreck you.   Essentially, this is a normal Cred catch, preceded by a single-leg pull.  The dumbbell, of course, is held in the hand opposite the “pulling” leg.  It’s very important, since a light weight will be used, to avoid “muscling the weight up” as opposed to snatching the weight correctly.  Same pulling cues should be employed as in a regular pulling exercise (push/drive with the heels, transition to toes at the last moment, pull the weight “back”, etc.).

My shoulders end up being approximately 6 inches below my feet at the bottom of the ring flye movement.  Also, I don’t allow my hips to cave, or allow a sinking/saddle-back condition to develop during the movement.  Nice and tight throughout, just as if I were performing a “praying man” plank.

The Politician as Corporate Tool

A Legislative Heads-up: The Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010
There’s a new money and power grab in the works by our “friends” in Washington.  Same tune, same tactic as was employed in the now-failed (for the time being — public outrage works!) S.510 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act — Legislator X endorses a bill, purportedly crafted to keep all fair and unassuming citizens of the US safe from the evil grasps of (choose your boogie man).  This go-round the legislator/grinder monkey is Senator John McCain (R-AZ), and the “boogie man” are the hordes of supplement manufacturers who conspire to trainwreck a trusting and unsuspecting public’s health.  I won’t even begin to launch into the irony embedded in that last sentence.

The essence of the Big-Pharma’s attempted power-grab boils down to this:

“…If this bill is passed, it will make it far easier for pharmaceutical companies to file use patents on what are now inexpensive dietary supplements and convert them into outrageously priced “drugs.” Just look at the cost of prescription drug fish oil that so many cardiologists are prescribing to their patients. It costs about seven times more than the same amount of EPA/DHA fish oil you can buy as a dietary supplement. Just imagine if the FDA was given arbitrary power to ban omega-3 dietary supplements!”
– William Faloon, Life Extension Foundation.

Here’s another take on the issue, from my friends at Downsize DC.  I happen to think that the main impetus for this bill emanates from Big-Pharma, with the sports-industrial complex providing additional pile-on “support”.  In the end, though, it really doesn’t matter who’s the true spearhead, here, as there’s only one looser — the American citizen who wishes to purchase dietary/health supplements free of government hand-holding.  By the way, if you register with Downsize DC, you can utilize their Educate the Powerful system to easily voice your discontent to your elected officials.  And please do so — it’s fast, easy, and it works.  Case-in-point is the stymied S.510 legislation.

More in the way of explanation of this legislative fiasco from the Life Extension Foundation — Part 1 and Part 2.

Also, Carl Lanore does a bang-up job discussing this legislation with Dr. Michael Smith of the Life Extension Foundation, during this recent episode of Super Human Radio.

Do your part to keep the “silent” revolution rolling —

2/23/10, A Different Shade of MetCon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2/22/10, MetCon and Unilateral Work, and a Couple of Interesting Stories Courtesy of NPR

Lead-off this morning’s workout with the following bout of MetCon work:

Barbell Whip Snatch* to full Overhead Squat: 95lbs x 6 reps each round

Reverse-Grip Pull-Ups: 45 x 6; 70 x 6, 6, 6

Weighted Dips: 45 x 7; 70 x 6, 6, 6

Four rounds of that, concentrating on the quality of each exercise’s reps as opposed to attempting to squeeze in everything in minimal time.  Overall time was a distant second concern.  Notice that the rep scheme here for each exercise was such that the time-under-tension fell at approximately 10 seconds.  This was not by accident, as I was targeting work on the anaerobic energy system.  I should have increased the weight a bit on the whip-snatch to OHSs and decreased the reps to 4 or 5, as I ran a little over time-wise here (approximately 12 seconds TUT to complete 6 reps, i.e. approximately 2 seconds per rep).
*Think explosive barbell muscle up, with a little more hip kick.  Or, somewhere between a power snatch and a barbell muscle-up.  Note: googling “whip snatch” or “power snatch” is…er…an interesting experience to say the least, and not necessarily safe for work  🙂

Then it was on to some more unilateral work — and some marked improvement in the function of my right leg’s pistol ability.  Good news!

Single-Leg Deadlift (reaching variation): 25lb plate x 7, 7, 7 (each leg)
Pistol Squats: 25 lb plate for both right and left legs x 7, 7, 7 (each leg)

These two exercises were done in superset fashion.  Nice to see the functionality in my right leg returning so quickly.

And in other news…

My contention has always been that diet success has more to do with one’s ability to adequately manage emotion and situations more than anything else.  Knowledge, combined with emotional maturity, can overcome any obstacle (be it weight issues or otherwise).  And to that end, NPR’s Morning Edition ran a story this morning (Rational or Emotional?  Your Brain on Food), that you might find interesting.

Hmmm, you say — leptin…what’s that hormone all about again?

Stephan, of the wonderful blog Whole Health Source, did a fantastic Leptin / Lectins series a while back (part I, part II, part III) that you might want to revisit after having taken in the NPR stories.  It always comes back to the avoidance of sugar and grains, doesn’t it?  How simple can you get?  Eating a healthful diet doesn’t require advanced intelligence, but it does require a bit of determination — and probably most important, emotional intelligence.

And then we have the follow-up to the Rational / Emotional story, Why We Gain Weight as We Age, with lots of discussion on age-onset muscle loss (sarcopenia).  All that’s required is the proper stimulus, though, coupled with the proper diet, to maintain healthy muscle mass well into one’s later years.  Just ask Art DeVany and his lovely wife, “Wonderwoman” about that.

MetCon for Sprinters, and Some Unilateral Work

This workout actually took place yesterday (2/20/10), but I wound-up not having a chance to post it due to being tied-up with work issues.  The way the day shaped-up created a nice little n=1 study.  A tough workout, performed in a fasted state, followed by very little food – how would I hold-up?  Well, very well as it turns out – and this morning, as I write this, I’m still not all that hungry.  I could eat, sure – but I’m not at the point where I have to eat, if you know what I mean.

First, let’s look at the workout itself.  The following took place at approximately 14 hours fasted:

The “MetCon for Sprinters” portion of the workout –
4 rounds of this, with the only rest resulting in the moving between work stations:

DB snatch + single arm press, push-press and push-jerk – (x number of db snatches with the right arm, followed by the right arm press, push-press, push-jerk complex, immediately followed by the same with the left side).

DB snatch (R) DB Snatch (L) Press Push-Press Push-Jerk
60 lbs        5                            5                                                1                   1                        1
70 lbs        5                            5                                                1                   1                        1
80 lbs        5                            5                                                1                   1                        1
80 lbs        5                            5                                                1                   1                        1

Straight Bar Muscle-Ups –
bodyweight x 3, 3, 2, 2

Ab Wheel Roll-Outs (minimal knee/thigh ground contact) –
7 on each of the four rounds

So four rounds of that got the blood pumping nicely, to say the least.  Then I moved on to some unilateral work, 3 rounds of a single-led deadlift, pistol squat superset complex.  I haven’t done pistols in quite a while, and what I found was rather surprising –  while my left leg pistol was fine (good balance, good strength), my right leg was absolutely pathetic – my movement pattern sucked, balance was off, and, as one might expect from that combination, my strength was non-existent.  On the upside however, at least I now know exactly where the kink in the ol’ armor resides.  I have no idea, though, why this imbalance developed.  The only thing that I can point to is that in the last three years I have been in a working environment that is mostly sedentary.  Maybe that’s it, I don’t know.  I do know, though, that from what I saw in the pistols, I must be essentially one-legging (with scant help from my right leg) all my bilateral, lower-body movements.  At least I’m aware of it now, and I can work on getting that flaw fixed.  Anyway, 3 rounds of single-leg deadlifts (with 70 lb DBs x 7 reps each leg, and same knee-bend angle as in this clip) in a superset with 3 rounds of bodyweight Pistol Squats, 8 reps each leg, each round.   Left leg could have used substantial added weight, and I needed balance help (especially past parallel) on the right leg.  Wow.  Lots of work needed here.  Note that the single-leg deadlift clip depicts a trainee performing a reaching single-leg DL version, though I did mine in the more conventional fashion, i.e arms perpendicular to the floor at the bottom of the movement.

So anyway, after a a couple rounds of steam room/cold shower contrasts, I cleaned-up and ran by the house for some Trader Joe’s brand Greek Yogurt (full fat, of course – and good stuff, by the way), along with a couple of handfuls of a pecan/walnut mix.  I then went on in to work for an engineering evolution that I expected to take about 4-hours; as it happened, the evolution wound-up taking approximately 12 hours.  So much for predictions.  I did have time to wolf-down a large PaleoKit and an avocado in the meantime, but that was it for the day.  No hunger pangs, no light-headedness, no blood sugar crash – none of that.  Just continued, fat-burning, Paleo cruisin’.  I expected that I’d wake up famished today, but that wasn’t to be.  I’ll eat a little later, but right now I’m still cruisin’ right along.