The Past Weekend’s Workout Happenings

Saturday, 5/15/10
So the local farmers’ market is located about a hard 15-minute fixie burst from my house.  Soon after rolling out of bed on Saturday, splashing some water on my face and, after savoring a few cups of joe, I saddled-up and headed out for some provisions.  15-minutes later and without a hitch, I’m picking up 3 lbs of beef sausage and a couple of pounds of ground beef (all locally raised, grass-fed).  Life is great!  I saddle back up and hit the road, and 10 minutes into the return blitz I’m met with the pop/pffffft! and squiggly rear-end that all riders dread.  Damn.  Ok, time for some quick roadside (the parking lot of the Rocky Mount Telegram, to be precise) triage/tire swap — made a tad more urgent, now, due to the 5 lbs of frozen steer in my backpack.  No blood, no foul, as they say (that’ll come later), and in a few minutes I’m back on the road, rockin’ out a good, leg-burning pace.  The culprit, BTW?  A V-bent hunk of wire (clothes hanger wire?) that found its way into my sidewall.  What are the odds of that?  Oh well, shit happens.

OK, so I made it home, chucked the meat in the freezer, and headed back out with the intent of doing one of my favorite “endurance” workouts, the 15 x 15 in 15 — that’s 15 x 100 yrd sprints, each completed in 15 seconds or less, with all 15 sprints completed in a total time of 15 minutes.  In other words, 15 sec’s “on”, 45 sec’s rest x 15 rounds.  Sounds easy, huh?  Uhh, yeah…anyway, like a friggin’ dumb-ass, I decide not to don the ol’ Vibrams, opting instead to attack these au natural over the brick-hard ground.  Why, you ask, would I do such a stupid-ass thing?  I don’t know…the sparse grass felt good between my toes?  Who knows why I do some of the things I do.  Now sometimes this quirkiness pays big dividends in that I find a new wrinkle to add to my exercise tool box, and sometimes, well, it leads to something like this —

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On a brighter note, the placement of these blisters indicates a proper sprinting foot-strike.  Hey, when life hurls lemons your way, go fetch the tequila and lime  🙂

Yeah, so I cut the sprint session short at 10 rounds.  Oh well, what to do but saddle-up and head to the gym, right?  You bet.  After fixie-ing around a good bit more (Weather’s too nice to be inside just yet), that is.  Once I finally did make it to the gym, though, I did this nifty little superset:

btn push-press: 135 x 5; 155 x 3; 165 x 3; 185 x 2, 2
straight bar muscle-ups: x 3, each round

Then it was back on the bike for more riding.  I’d guess that by the time it was all said and done, I’d put in a good 2-and-a-half hours of combined saddle time.

Oh yeah, I began all of this madness in a 15+ hour fasted state, with the post-workout re-feed not occurring until after hour 20 (ish).  Any detrimental effects?  None.  If I were a sugar-burner, though, I’d have been a drooling, blithering, palsying spectacle — and that would have been even before I started my barefooted sprints.  Hmmm, maybe I can blame my non-Vibram wearing, abject stupidity on being in a fasted state?  Nice try, but I don’t think so.  About IF’ing: the bottom line is that IF can definitely help in eliminating those last few stubborn pounds, while at the same time contributing to improved, overall health.  However, IF does present an additional stress to the body.  As such, you need to first get your other dietary and lifestyle ducks in a row prior to dabbling with IF; to do otherwise is simply to add suction to the stressor/cortisol death-vortex.  There’s a place for radical and a place for reason — the key is realize the right time for each approach.  By the way, if you’ve got a membership to the Crossfit Journal, check out trainer E.C. Synkowski’s recent take on IF, here.

From the Crossfit Journal site:
HQ trainer and athlete E.C. Synkowski is no slouch in the gym and has had great success using intermittent fasting as an approach to insulin regulation and recovery. In this video interview by Patrick Cummings, E.C. takes us through the process of getting used to fasting and explains why she does it and how her body has responded over the last few years.

Sunday, 5/16/10
It’s gonna rain, it’s not gonna rain, it’s gonna rain, it’s not gonna rain…
So the plan today was to saddle-up the mountain bike and hit the trails, but the rain situation scared me off.  I don’t do fickle.  And yeah, I’m a fair-weather mountain bike kinda guy; I steer free of the rain and muck if I can avoid it.  Anyway, on to plan B —

More fixie riding — about an hour-and-a half worth today (and I can tell my legs are getting zorched) — broken-up by a 45-minute iron session, that went a little something like this:

Cuban press (very strict form): 3 sets of 10, fat Oly Bar.  Note: no need to press the bar to full lock-out from the intermediate position (as in the demo clip); in fact, this motion allows for unneeded rest between the “meat” reps.

whip snatch to overhead squat: 115 x 5 sets of 5.  Each rep as fast as possible without sacrificing form.  Very little rest between sets.  115 pounds feels like a 300 pound slosh tube by the 5th set.

Then this superset —

clean grip high pull, from the floor: 185 x 3, each round
weighted dips: 45 x 7; 70 x 3; 90 x 3; 100 x 3; 105 x 3

Note: I used standard 35 lb plates for the high pull set-up so as to force a lower starting position in the pull from the floor.  Just another way to change things up.

The take home message
Ok, so shit happens, and your workouts plans will get mucked-up at times.  Don’t let that be an excuse to wuss-out, hit the couch and nurse a cold one.  Think on the fly, and pull out another trick from the bag.  Maybe even try something totally off the wall.  Do you think your body really cares, in the grand scheme of things, that you substituted X workout for Y?

And a public service announcement about this weekend’s heavy volume —
I do a heavy volume “something” like this every now and then, but only when I feel like it — never do I force it.  It’s a random, chaotic thing, and when I feel it, I go with it.  Keep a pace like this for long, though, and an injury of some sort will see to it that you take it easy for a while.

The Fixie Allure and, A Weekend’s Worth of HIIT

“Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you’ve hung around the ol’ TTP blog for long, you’ve inevitably heard me drone-on (and on and on…) about my beloved fixie.  What’s the allure, you ask — I mean, Chrissakes, it’s just a friggin’ bicycle, right?

Au contraire, my good friend; the fixie is to cycling, as Vibrams are to running.  You don’t so much ride a fixie as you tango with it; jockey, machine, and environment all inextricably connected in the dance.  And as an added bonus, the fixie, by it’s very nature, screams of mixed-intensity bursts of exertion — commonly referred to in the parlance of physical culture as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).   Looking for a primal cycling experience?  Look no further than the fixed-speed bicycle.  Short, intermittent bursts of high power output interspersed with longer bursts of moderate-level power output, starts, stops; all chaos, all fractal in nature.  Very primal.

So that’s an experienced rider’s take.  Want a newbie’s impression of the fixie experience?  Here’s an informative fixie article, from Mary Buckheit, of

“…for those keeping score at home, that’s one bike, one gear, one brake (if any)…”
– Mary Buckheit,

And hey, check this out — it’s so much fun, even Lance Armstrong loves a fixie  🙂  Saddle one up, and you’ll be forever changed.

Nothing can really impart to you the unique fixie feel, short of actually climbing on board and taking one for a spin.  The following clip, though, does a good job of portraying the essence and fun-loving spirit of the fixie experience.  Notice the plug near the end (beneath the bill of one of the rider’s cap) for Mellow Johnny’s — is it safe yet to call Mellow Johnny’s an Austin institution?  Well, how ’bout we just say that it’s my favorite Austin bike shop, and leave it at that?

Oh yeah, and one of my favorite fixie porn sites, here.

A Weekend’s Worth of HIIT

Fixie, Vibrams, a sled and an open field; this is gonna be good!

So the theme for this past weekend was many, many, many short HIIT bursts, from Friday evening until Sunday night.  Friday after work I sprinted (fixie, that is — Vibram sprints came later in the weekend) to the coffee shop, read for a while (Einstein’s God — fantastic read, by the way), then from there to a friend’s house for dinner (low country boil!), then from there, back home again (night time riding!).  Saturday and Sunday was much the same — I dare say I racked-up a good 15 rides (15 to 30 minutes or so a pop).  I also performed plenty of barefooted sprints and variety of of sled pulls and drags over the weekend as well.  I can’t really quantify any of this other than to say, again, it was all done in short bursts of high-intensity effort, followed by full recovery.  It was a weekend full of high-intensity, active play.

The one thing I can quantify was a Saturday gym session (following a barefooted sprint session) that shaped-up like this:

behind the neck (barbell) push-press: 135 x 5; 165 x 4; 185 x 3; 195 x 1, 1, 1, 1
straight bar muscle-ups: x 3, each of 7 total rounds

Couple of notes: all that lower body work really put the hurt on my push-press numbers.  Think the push-press is a shoulder dominant exercise?  Think again.  See what your push-press (jerks, too) numbers look like following a hip-dominant blitz.  It’ll feel like you’re pushing/jerking out of loose-packed sand.  Also, if you’re planning a bike-to-sprint (running) combo, remember to properly transition by doing some hip mobility and glute-activating movements prior to running.  Get that posterior chain revved-up or you’ll end-up running like a drunk initially — or worse yet, pull a ham string.  Biking is a highly quad-dominant endeavor and in no way prepares one for PC dominant work.  Biking will rev your core temperature, no doubt — so in that respect, it is a good “warm-up” activity — biking does nothing, however, to prime the PC for running sprints.

Today is most definitely a rest day 🙂

…ok, maybe a little bit of riding 🙂  Gotta feed the fixie jones.  Be forewarned, fixie riding is a serious addiction.

In health,

3/4/10 The Ins and Outs of an On-the-Fly Workout, and An Additional Thought on the Sous-Vide Method

Are you down with the Robb Wolf and Any Deas Paleolithic Solution Podcasts over at Robb Wolf’s blog?  If not, you really should be, as they’re a great source of Paleo diet information.  Robb is a trained biochemist who was somehow able to shed the prescribed university brainwashing, put two-and two together, and come to the conclusion that the human body was built to motor on a Paleo-like diet.  The Wolf/Deas collaborations — aside from being an enjoyable listen (good chemistry between these two) — are a series of Q & A discussions on all manner of dietary issues — all viewed, of course, through a Paleo-leaning prism.  And Robb’s blog offers a good place for intelligent, post-podcast discussion.  Head on over when you get a chance, listen-in, and join the fray — you’ll be glad you did.

In particular, check out the discussion associated with Episode 17, where I tossed-out the sous-vide/plastics leaching question that I initially brought up in this post.  Paleolithic Solution reader/listener Mathieu Lalonde responded:

“I’m a chemist and I was waiting for someone to bring up this issue. I was personally horrified when I first read about “Sous Vide”, which means “under vacuum” in French. Take food, place it into a plastic bag, place the bag under vacuum, seal it, then heat it. I cannot imagine a better way to leach plasticizers into food. Especially with fatty foods. I would love to see someone study this. The phthalates would be trivial to detect by mass spec. Many plasticizers, including phthalates, are endocrine disrupters. I don’t care how good “sous vide” food tastes, I’m not touching it until the plasticizer issue has been studied and/or resolved.”

I have to agree with Mathieu, here.  This just looks like too much of a plastics-leaching, perfect storm for me to feel comfortable with.  For now, just roll with the ol’ fashion crock pot, and reserve the right to change my opinion on the subject later.

On to today’s workout…

Here’s the combo that I created on the fly this morning:

Jump Squats (3/4 position):

165 x5; 215 x 5; 265 x 5; 305 x 5

BTN Push-Press:
165 x 5; 185 x 4, 5, 5

Step-Ups (reps per each leg):
165 x 5; 185 x 3, 3, 3

Regular-Grip Pull-Ups:
45 x 5; 55 x 5, 6, 6

So, 4 rounds of that combo.  I actually performed 2 additional rounds that were a “bridge” between the end of the warm-up and the meat of the workout (round 1).  Build-ups, feel sets.

So, how did I come up with this beast?  Pretty simple, really. First I identified the movement pattern I wanted to work — not the exercise per se,  but the movement pattern — then I identified the energy system I wanted to utilize while working that particular pattern.  At this point I begin to cobble-together particular exercises.   In this instance, I knew I wanted to work the single-leg step-up — in my gym, that puts me in the power rack.  I know from past exprience that I’ll use approximately 185 lbs for 3 reps each leg (and this rep range corresponds to my target energy system).  185 lbs also looks like a good btn push-press weight for me, so I’ll add that as well.  Now I’ve got a bar loaded-up in the power rack at a height that, for me, is at roughly the 3/4 squat position.  Hmmmmm, load-up the bar a little more, and I’ve got all the makings for some jump squats.  As a bonus, look at the great potentiation potential jump squats offers to the other two exercises.  Cha-ching!  The pull-ups?  They’re a natural push-pull companion to the push-press.

And last but not least, a very interesting read from the Global PolititianDid Lactose Tolerance Trigger the Indo-European Expansion? Highly, highly recommended reading.

2/14/10, Power Snatch & Reverse Grip Pull-Up Combo

Good stuff recently (hey, it’s “recently” for me — I’m still getting back on track 🙂  ) from Matt Metzgar and Marc VanDam (of Feel Good Eating), on the beneficial aspects of randomness in one’s overall workout scheme.  Their thoughts on the matter, I believe, are spot-on.  There’s certainly no harm, of course, in concentrating on a single aspect of your fitness for awhile.  Just don’t let “awhile” become your “rut-routine”, or attempt to shove the proverbial square peg into a round hole.  Anyone remember that show, Square Pegs?  I always had a thing for Jami Gertz.  Lost Boys, anyone?  Anyway…

Usually the natural ebb and flow of life will take care of the randomness aspect for you (don’t I know this all-too-well at the moment!) — simply give-in, and take what life offers.  This is why having a big go-to “tool box” and an in-tune, n=1 attitude is a must.

And right now life ain’t offering-up many opportunities for sprints…or for bustin’ loose on the fixie.  Now I ain’t bitchin’ or anything, I’m jus’ sayin’  🙂

But what life did offer-up today — after a run to the Farmers’ Market and Trader Joe’s — was some Power Snatches and heavy Reverse-grip Pull-ups.  And some “thrusters” to top things off.

My power snatches are done with a grip that’s maybe a palm wider than a clean grip.  Why, you ask?  Because my aim here is not the completion of, or practice for, the completion of a white-light Oly lift, but to derive the most benefit from the explosive pull in a movement that happens to approximate the Olympic version of the similar movement.   Remember, the further the bar travel, the more power must be applied to the bar for a given weight.  One reason (actually, I suppose it’s the only reason?) the Olympic snatch is performed with such and extreme grip is so as to minimize the amount of bar travel.  Less bar travel means a greater load may be “pushed” for a given power output.  Meh…anyway, let’s get to the workout already:

Power Snatch: 95 x 5, 115 x 5, 135 x 3, 140 x 2, 2, 2, (snatch-grip high pull, 185 x 3), 2, (high pull, 185 x 3), 2

Reverse-Grip Pull-Ups:
45 x 5, 80 x 4, 90 x 3, 100 x 2, 115 x 1, 90 x 4, 100 x 3, 115 x 1+ (stalled 3/4 up)

Eight total rounds here.  Where I interjected the high-pulls, I did the high-pull set, then quickly reset the weight and performed the power snatch set — in other words, with as little rest between as possible.

Hack Squat Thrusters:  I don’t think much of the angled hack squat machine — for its intended purpose, anyway.  But I find that it’s positioned wonderfully for front press-out thrusters.  By setting the machine down on its low safety catch, I can position myself (facing the machine — opposite from its intended purpose, so to speak) so that I can place the front of the shoulder pads in my palms (approximating a clean catch position) and in a thighs-parallel-to-the-ground, slightly-forward-leaning, front squat position.  This angle is perfect for a great triple-extension motion into a full, press-out thruster.  You can really load-up the weight without fear of “crashing”.  I actually prefer this angle to that of a straight-up barbell thruster movement.  The loading here of course means nothing as it is total machine and angle dependent.  I only include it because I use this blog for my own personal workout tracking:

180 x 8, 8; 270 x 6, 360 x 4

I’ll probably hit some more of these tomorrow morning.  Finished-up with a half-hour or so of steam room/cold shower contrasts.  Along with the PVC roller, another tool in the poor man’s recovery toolbox.

1/25/10, An Abbreviated Push-Press Wave

First off, note the big decrease in volume today.  This is by design, due to the way my week looks to be shaping up.  As always, my modus operandi is to plan ahead as best as possible, with the information I have available at the moment – then shrug and continue on in a new path when when my new “current reality” inevitably renders all that careful prior planning useless.  Such is life; complicated, unpredictable.  I just roll with it and go on.

Anyway, the current short-range “plan” is to squeeze-in a short-burst workout on both Monday AM and Tuesday AM, ahead of the packing/moving frenzy that will kick into high-gear beginning (new revision to plans 🙂  on Wednesday morning.  I don’t expect to be back into the gym, on my fixie or sprinting in Vibrams again until the middle of next week (if that), so these two workouts are as much for psychological health as anything else.

I like to begin my warm-up routines with either sprint-starts or farmer’s walks (and sometimes both), working-in some full-body ballistic movements and dynamic stretching along the way.  Today I kicked things off with approximately 300 yds worth of farmer’s walks with 85 lb DBs.  About every 50 yards or so I hit ass-to-grass goblet squat thrusters (x 7-ish) with one of the 85 lb BDs, then immediately resumed my FWs.  This gets the blood flowing nicely.  Some bodyweight ballistics (push-ups, muscle-ups, Russian lunges) followed, with a late-in-the-warmup phase-in of some more Oly lift oriented warm-up work (ala, an abbreviated, push-press/jerk specific, Bergner warm-up).

Then on to the abbreviated push-press wave.  Pull-up bar muscle-ups x 3 (at bw) to begin and end the session, and in between each set.

Wave 1
135 x 5
165 x 4
185 x 3
205 x 2
215 x 1 (grind)

Wave 2
195 x 3
210 x 2

Here’s an example of the effectiveness of post-activation potentiation: 215 x 1 had to be ground-out for the last half of the movement to lockout, while each rep of 210 x 2 snapped right up.  The self control I exhibited by cutting short this workout surprised even me, because I felt as if I could have really piled on the weight today.  I definitely left a lot in the tank.

Maybe I am getting a little wiser with age  🙂

1/20/10, Power-Endurance Emphasis

This is the workout equivalent to last night’s crock-pot bison roast.  Nuthin’ fancy here, just a “put-up or shut-up” kind of a deal.  Not much in the way of equipment or space requirements, either; one relatively heavy dumbbell and a pull-up bar.  Some chalk and straps for the later rounds.  Booya!

As the Zen Master says: there is no say, there is only do.  I would add that there is no room for “contemplation” as well.  11 rounds of this in 26:43.  Skewed toward the heavier load/longer rest side of the continuum.  One of the more CrossFit-like workouts that I’ll do.  Call it MetCon, if you like (and I guess you could), though I believe that my “power-endurance” terminology comes closer to identifying the true nature of this workout.  In my opinion, this sprint-interval workout is more along the lines of true MetCon work.  But that’s just splitting so many hairs, and I digress; here’s the day’s fun:

– each of the 11 “rounds” entailed the following:

  • the Cred + single arm press + single arm push-press + single arm split-jerk (right arm, immediate movement to movement transition)
  • same drill with the left arm/side
  • 2 pull-up bar muscle-ups

Bw muscle-ups, 90 lb db for the cred/press combo.

Are you down with “the Cred” (the single-arm db snatch)?  If not, check out this and this.  Transition directly from the overhead finish position of the Cred into the single-arm db press.  Of course, the weak link in this combo is the strict press, and this is the movement to first degenerate.  What I do to compensate, then is to allow for a minimum of “cheat” push as the rounds progress.  Being a stickler on the strict press would of course require that I reduce the weight used overall in the movement, and I’m not willing to do that (i.e., skimp on the cred portion of the combo).  But that’s just how I roll, others may choose otherwise.  As I critique this workout, I see that I should have pushed a bit harder on the muscle-ups (gone 3 or 4 each round -or added 10 lbs or so) or used rings.  I’ll note this and accomodate accordingly next time I do a similar combo.

1/14/10, Strength-Endurance Emphasis

Today’s was another workout that might better be described more in terms of power-endurance.  Now these small distinctions – although they make for some great armchair discussion (and I’m all for that, too) – amount to nil in the real world.  Going in, I made an educated guess (according to how I felt, how the lead-in priming sets felt, my last similar outing, what my last few workouts entailed, etc…) as to the proper loading for each of these movements, then I loaded-up the bar and pushed that particular weight as fast and as hard, and with as minimum rest between sets as possible.  Was it a perfect bull’s-eye hit?  No.  But the end result is that this was a kick-ass workout that ended-up being skewed a little more toward the power end of the modality spectrum than I’d originally aimed for.  All my body knows is that it better damn well adapt before it gets flogged with the next onslaught.  This is the true nature of the game.  The proper mix of intelligence, planning, single-minded focus and the willingness to bust ass.

Both of these movements were performed under the 21-rep, rest-pause scheme, with every concentric performed as fast as possible.  The snatch-grip low pulls were performed in the rack, with the bar set just a fraction below knee level; bar above navel every rep.

  1. behind-the-neck push press: 135 x 5; 155 x 3; 175 x 2; 195 x 21, rest-pause method, mostly in groups of 2s.  11:20 time to completion.  Compare at 190/14:15 last outing.  I interjected approximately 4 sets of 2, straight bar muscle-ups as “cns prompts” at points during the set where I felt my rep “snap” beginning to faulter.
  2. snatch-grip low pull, out of the rack: 135 x 5; 185 x 3; 225 x 21, rest-pause method, 3s across the board.  7 minutes flat.  Straps on all reps.  Full & fast triple extension on every rep.

The next couple of weeks are likely to be hit-or-miss on the workout (as well as the blogging) front, as much of my limited free time will be swallowed-up in the home sale/moving/transitioning process.  I plan on riding this 21-rep-method pony on through the other side of the transition, at which point I’ll re-assess and change up as indicated by that re-assessment.  So, a little bit of randomness and plenty of unknown is headed my way.

Bring it on.

11/19/09, Speed Endurance Emphasis

6+ hours deep sleep.  Up @ 4:30 AM, start workout at 6:20 AM, end @ 7:15 AM.  Post workout meal at 8:15 (2 eggs, cheese, spinach & veggie scramble).

More of a CrossFit-esk type of a workout this AM.  Setting up for a heavy(er) deadlift and weighted dip workout on Friday (11/20) evening – due to be out of town on Saturday (and possibly Sunday) ==> no workout.  That’s the plan as of  the time being, anyway.

Warm-up w/sprint starts, skips, ballistic stretching, push-ups, pull-ups, etc.  Then the following:

  • 200 meter run; sprint 60 meters, stride 40 meters, sprint 60 meters, stride 40 meters.  Vibrams, indoor track.
  • Front Squat: 135 x 5; 165 x 5; 185 x 5, 5
  • BTN Push Press: 135 x 5; 165 x 5; 185 x 4, 4
  • Weighted reverse grip pull-ups: 45 x 5; 80 x 5, 5, 5

4 total rounds.  Plyo squat drops x 3 prior to each round of Front Squats; straight bar reverse grip muscle-ups x 3 prior to each round of pull-ups.

Not so much concerned with the overall time of completion, but limited rest b/t sets as much as tolerable.  Emphasis still on each individual concentric rep completion as fast as possible.  No grind sets.  Power emphasis in the 5(+/-1) rep range.

11/17/09, Speed-Strength Emphasis

6 hours deep sleep.  Up @ 4:30 AM, coffee, on the road @ 5:15 AM.  Begin warm-up @ 6:15, workout 6:30 – 7:15 AM.  last meal 6:30 PM (steak salad).

Warm-up: ballistic lunges, ham stretch, strides, skips.  Work-ups to 30 meter sprint/starts.  6 x 30 meters w/ballistic push-ups b/t sprints.

  • BTN Push-Press: 135 x 5; 165 x 3; 185 x 3, 3; 195 x (2,1,2) rest-pause
  • Regular Grip weighted pull-ups: 45 x5; 70 x 3, 3, 3; 75 x (2, 1, 2, 1) rest-pause
  • GHR: 45 x 5, 4; 50 x 4; 55 x 4, 3, (3, 2, 1, 1) rest-pause

B/T set CNS prime – vertical plate toss (45 lbs) x 3, straight bar muscle-ups x 2.

Order: plate toss==>BTN push-press==>muscle ups==>pull-ups==>GHR



Rep range (3+/-1) ==load==speed (fast as possible concentric)



Wild International is my kind of workout music.