A Couple of Weekend Workouts, and Some Thoughts on the Conjugate Method

Lots and lots of fixie riding over the weekend, with a couple of iron sessions tossed in for good measure.  I have no idea how many miles in total I put on the ol’ fix over Friday, Saturday and Sunday; let’s just say it was a sh*t ton 🙂

Friday Night Iron Works –

Another “unusual” Friday night iron session; in fact, though, this may actually turn into a usual thing.  The nice long days allow me to get home from work, saddle up the fixie, hit the gym and get back before dark.  Gotta love summer.  An hour of saddle time, then this:

bent-over row + snatch grip low pull: 225 x 5, 4, 4, 4
feet-elevated ring flyes: bodyweight x 10, 10, 9, 8 (4/2/x/0 tempo)

The bor + snatch-grip low pull was performed like this: take a clean grip on the bar and perform a bent-over row with as little cheat as possible, return the bar to the floor under control, then immediately slide the grip out to an approximate snatch-grip width and perform an explosive low pull from the floor.  Make sure the bar travels higher than the belly button on each rep.  Each of these combos counts as a single rep.  The glutes and hams get a good deal of work here, as you tend to forget that the PC is in constant iso contraction during the performance of the BOR.  Then the PC is immediately called into action to perform the explosive low pull.  Give this pairing a shot, and see what you think.  In the ring flyes, I maintained an off-90 degree arm angle throughout — think “Vitruvian Man” at the bottom-out position; at the top of the motion, my hands met at a position just above my navel.

The big thing to remember her is to not let your hips drop and thus assume a “saddle back” position.  This is easier said than done in the last reps of the later rounds.  Positioning was such that my feet were higher than my chest in the bottom-out position.

I finished things of with some Nautilus 4-way neck machine: front, side, side >> 50 x 10 each, rear >> 60 x 10 (tempo 5/0/1/0).

The Conjugate Method?  Hey, Isn’t That for Power Lifters?

I speak to the “Conjugate Method” quite often in describing various aspects of my workouts, and, indeed Louie Simmons’ work with his Westside Barbell Club athletes has greatly influenced my understanding of exercise prescription .  Mention “Conjugate Method”, though, and even people steeped in physical culture knowledge will immediately think “power lifter”.  And yes, it’s true that Louie has molded his Conjugate Theory specifically for power lifting, but this in no way negates the efficacy of the theory — if properly tweeked and applied — to other fitness/sporting applications.  A few of the biggest misunderstandings, or wrong-minded assumptions, surrounding the Conjugate Method are (1) that it can only be incorporated by drugged power lifters, (2) that it is a “set” and largely non-mailable lifting “program”, and, as a correlate to #2, (3) that it can only be implemented with with barbells and dumbbells.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Conjugate Method (writ large) is a theory of strength acquisition developed by the most underrated (in my opinion) Strength and Conditioning coach in the United States — dare I say the world? — today; Louie Simmons.   The “Conjugate Method”, though, in common vernacular, refers to the specific protocols employed by strength athletes (and increasingly now, power and skill-oriented athletes) for developing strength and power.  I am reminded here of my south Texas youth, were “coke” was a blanket term referring to every soft drink available under the sun.  Same here with the term “Conjugate Method”.  I’ve come to refer more to “Conjugate Theory” when speaking outside of pure power lifting applications, but, in my mind, the two terms really are interchangeable.

Now power lifting is certainly not at all my game, but I utilize the Conjugate Theory every time I workout.  In fact, if someone were to ask me what my encompasses my overall physical culture philosophy — an idea, a theory, that unifies all that I do, from the weight room to the training table — my immediate answer would be Conjugate Theory.

In fact, it’s not too hard to see how Conjugate Theory is just a step or two removed from Power Law.  And it may be that the proportion by which Conjugate Theory is removed from pure Power Law is the ratio by which the resultant athletic prowess is removed from optimum health.  This is the play of the directed and systemized variance of the Conjugate Theory vs the pure fractal nature of Power Law.  More on that, though, at another time.

Conjugate Method/Theory in a nutshell?  Well, in Louie’s own words:
“When lifters repeatedly use the same simple method of training to raise their strength level, they will eventually stall. Like the scholar who must utilize many sources of information to achieve a higher level of knowledge, the lifter must incorporate new and more difficult exercises to raise their standards.”

Our aim, then, is to avoid that dastardly point of diminished return on effort.  And that, my friends, equates to longevity.

Now Louie was specifically referring to strength athletes in the above quote, but the same can be (and should be) said for any pursuit.  The trick is to deconstruct the sport (or skill, or goal) into it’s constituent parts, then apply Conjugate Theory to the methods used in the development of those constituent parts.

Piece of cake, right?  Well, truly, it is!

We can look to Louie’s work with power lifters as an exceptional, empirical model, though we’ll have to tweek those methods utilized to fit our own, n=1 needs.  So what can a Paleo, all-round athlete (which is what I consider myself) learn from guys who specialize in conquering the three “big lifts” (bench, squat, and deadlift)?  In a phase, contained, directed, and systemized variety.

The first principle of the Conjugate Method, as applied to the training of a strength athlete, emphasizes the ability of that athlete to handle maximum loads, frequently, while still providing for ample recovery — in other words, side-stepping the ol’ C.N.S. (Central Nervous System) overtraining bugaboo.  So far, so good; I’m totally on board with the getting strong part.  But specialization isn’t my game, and I want to be good at very diverse endeavors — sprinting and cycling, as well — and, too, I wanna look good nekkid; lean and muscular, yes — but well proportioned.   Not to fear; with a few simple tweeks to the power lifting model of Conjugate Theory application, I can create a “Conjugate Method” for the all-around athlete and, more specifically, for this, n=1 all-around athlete.

So just how does the Conjugate Method go about allowing for a high frequency of maximal effort work while at the same time avoiding the overtraining issue?  It does so by employing a systemized method of rotating special exercises that are close in nature to the movement patterns of the big three power lifts, but that are not exactly the big three lifts themselves. In other words, the aim is to increase strength relative to the classic lifts (squat, bench and deadlift), while avoiding burning-out on the competition lifts themselves.  This is akin to training a 100 meter sprinter while never actually running that exact distance in practice; competition being the only time that exact distance is covered.

Sound crazy?  Not so fast.

Ever notice how, at a certain point in skills acquisition training, strength development, body composition refinement (or whatever the target goal), that a certain level of accomplishment, a point of diminished returns per unit of input effort is reached?  This is just as true a phenomena as — and, in fact is the yang aspect of — the 10,000 hour principle.  In a Linear Progression mindset, the answer would be to “endeavor to persevere” and push on through.  This, though, will only lead to overtraining, injury, mental fatigue/disgust and, eventual abandonment of the program and/or goal.  While I think this is more applicable in high-demand CNS endeavors (lifting, sprinting for example) than in low demand endeavors (hitting a baseball, archery), I do believe that low demand effort training should be ceased for the day when output quality diminishes.  This is simple another facet of the same idea; if you’re thinking now in terms of “auto-regulation” and “drop-off method” you’re on the right track.  This is the idea behind frequently rotating the highest CNS demand/maximum effort exercises.  How frequently?  Well, that’s largely an n=1 consideration.  For instance, I rarely do the same maximum effort exercise (for a particular movement pattern) twice in a row.  In other words, if I choose to do a behind-the-neck push-press for my max effort, vertical push movement pattern, the next time I hit a max effort in this particular movement pattern, I’ll make sure to choose a different exercise (or a different modality) — a strict front military press, or maybe a palms-in db press.  Or, maybe I will do the btn push-press — but this time with bands.  Get the idea?  Be patient, it’s a lot to take in.  It’s the workout equivalent to a “calorie is not a calorie”, in that it takes a bit for the mind to wrap around an idea contrary to what we’ve been brought up to believe.

The second principle of the Conjugate Method is the systematic training of all the constituents that comprise “strength”.  One might also consider these aspects of athleticism; they are (in no particular order of importance):

  1. Quickness
  2. Explosiveness
  3. Speed-Strength
  4. Strength-Speed
  5. Absolute Strength

Once again I’ll defer to Louie, who states:

“This is much like a five-speed transmission in a car. We all know what happens if you miss a gear, or take off in the wrong gear. Your car doesn’t run very efficiently, and neither will you. One must learn many methods to develop special strength, and when to use them. You must also know your sport’s goals. In some sports, speed is foremost and absolute strength is secondary. Both are more closely related than you think.”

I would also add endurance to this list, as kinda the odd-duck out.  Depending upon your chosen goal and/or the demands of your particular sport, some directed energy system training is certainly in order.  What everybody and every athlete requires, though — regardless of goal or the specifics of the sport — is strength.  Yes, even endurance athletes need that “strength with which to endure”, and the elderly need to be strong to remain stable, self-sufficient, and to prolong quality of life.  Strength is, shall we say, a basic element of life; the platform from which all else springs.

Is it possible, though, to train heavy continuously, without crossing over the dreaded Rubicon of overtraining?  In basic terms, how would one go about doing that?

Again, we’ll let Louie answer in his own words:

“…pick several special barbell exercises for a particular lift, for example, the deadlift. The good morning is very similar in motion to deadlifting. A conventional deadlifter will, no doubt, bend over. Therefore, bent over good mornings will increase the deadlift. But remember, when doing the good morning, in your brain, you must duplicate the action of your deadlift precisely. It is not so important to raise your good morning, as to raise your deadlift by performing the good morning. We do many types of good mornings, for example, with a Safety Squat bar suspended from chains. But remember to use the same body mechanics as you do in the deadlift.”

So the elevator pitch for the Conjugate Method, then, is simply this: choosing  similar/supplemental exercises to the lifts you wish to increase, and rotate theses exercises frequently so as not to perform the exact same motion/modality from workout to workout.   Now, that is admittedly painting a very complex theory with an exceptionally broad stroke — but it is, however, a place from which to begin the discussion.

Lots of talk about barbells and dumbbells here, what about machine-based protocols?  Is Conjugate Theory applicable to HIT and/or Super Slow type workouts as well?

100%, without a doubt, yes.  One simply needs to adopt the underlying theory to the chosen protocol and available tools (free weights,machines, bodyweight, etc.).  Simple as that.
Training the Five Aspects of Athleticism; Meet the Methods (broadly speaking) –

  1. Maximal Effort method – for instance, simply taking a maximal amount of weight and lifting it for no more than 3 reps while keeping the weight at or about 90% of your 1RM.
  2. Repeated Effort / Sub-Maximal Effort method – as an example, 8 to 15 reps, and, in some cases, into the twenties.  Time under load considerations.  Mainly influences hypertrophy, tendon health.
  3. Dynamic Effort method – speed of movement and power development is critical, here.  Low reps spread over numerous sets.

The above can also be considered in light of varying Time Under Load (TUL) applications within the HIT protocols, where intensity and TUL are inversely proportional (for the most part).

“…Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun
Oh but mama that’s where the fun is…”

Ah, yes; so this is where the real alchemy takes place.  Using varying aspects of the above-mentioned training methods, in a contained, directed, and systemized manner, to positively affect the five aspects of athleticism.   Barbells, dumbbells, machines and protocols are simply tools to choose from, with each tool being better suited for a particular application.  Is the goal power lifting?  Then of course the proper tools are barbells and dumbbells, and a power lifting specific Conjugate protocol.  Simply want to be strong, fit-as-a-fiddle, and melt away fat — but you also want to invest as little time in the effort as possible?  The equipment and protocols of such outfits as Efficient Exercise or Dr. Doug McGuff’s Ultimate Exercise are what you’re looking for.  These two examples are simply ends of a continuum; your task is to locate your particular n=1 home along that continuum.   Don’t be afraid to branch out and experiment.  You can be the master of your own body; first, though, you must learn your own body’s ways and particulars.  That’s the journey.

Saturday Iron Session –

Again, this session took place following an extended fixie huck:

behind-the-neck jerk: 135 x 3; 185 x 3; 195 x 2, 2, 2 (4/2/x/0 tempo)
reverse lunge + single arm shoulder press combo: 40 x 4, 50 x 4, 4, 4, 4 (i.e., 4 reps each “side”)

5 rounds of that, then:

front box squat (very low, 12-inch box): 135 x 3; 155 x 4, 3 (3/2/x/0 tempo), explode off the box.
reverse grip pull up: bodyweight x 15, 15, 15 (3/0/x/0 tempo)

Yeah, legs were toast following the bike riding and that first devilish combination of jerks and lunges, which made the front squats a tough go.  Another instance, and example of, the proper use of auto-regulation.  155 lbs isn’t a lot of weight for me in this movement (even off of a low box), but on this particular day, in this particular place in the exercise grouping and given the day’s particular circumstances, this was the most load I could handle.  Kick the ol’ ego to the curb.  The weight doesn’t matter; what matters is the proper stimulus.

Reverse lunge + db press combo –
Couldn’t find a good clip for this one, so I’ll see if I can explain it.  Snatch a db into the overhead position, and hold it there.  Now, kick back into the reverse lunge position with the same side leg as the arm in which the db is held.  As you’re stepping back, lower the db into the “catch” position on the shoulder; time the movement so that the db is “caught” exactly when you hit the bottom-out of the lunge.  This is a quick, fluid movement.  At this point, immediately reverse direction and explode into the upright position — the db should reach the lock-out position in timed unison with the top of the lunge.  Think “shot put” motion.   Immediately drop back into the next rep.

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.

4/8/10; Grabbing a Couple of Workouts on the Fly and, Gettin’ Schooled

I found myself with a bit of spare time yesterday after work, so what better option than to saddle up the ol’ fixie and head for a spin?  I stopped off by the library and returned The 10,000 Year Explosion (a good read, but not quite the ground-breaker I was expecting).

Quick interlude — it is not the Paleo premise (not mine anyway), that humans have ceased to evolve, or have not evolved over the last 10,000 years (since the onset of the agricultural revolution) — lactose tolerance, anyone? — but rather that we have not evolved sufficiently to handle the onslaught of post-agricultural revolution foodstuffs.  Or that the process of excessive fat accumulation is evolution’s attempt at handling this onslaught.  Nothing says that every evolutionary leap is necessarily a “positive” one — non-perfect fixes and dead-ends do crop-up.  There is a continuing interplay, of course, between the evolutionary process and the continually changing environment.

Anyway, I dropped-off the 10k-Year Explosion and picked-up a copy of Lone Survivor.  What a great read so far — content-wise — though I’d hoped for a more compelling writing style.  That said, though, think that life is kicking you around a bit, or that your workouts are beastly?  Heh.  Give this book a read, and imagine being the lone survivor of a SEAL team decimated in Afghanistan.

I stopped-off by the field on the way home and, having my Vibrams on-hand (always the good Boy Scout), swapped footwear and ran 6 x 150 yard sprints.  I followed that up with 50 continuous skip lunges before sliding back into my biking shoes and riding back home.

Dinner consisted of a small portion of flat iron steak and a tossed green salad with olive oil, and coconut vinegar (Tropical Tradition brand — great stuff!).  And a beer or two 🙂   with the evening’s entertainment being the always engaging Andy Deas and Robb Wolf show — otherwise known as The Paleolithic Solution — of which, the latest episode (no. 22) just may be the finest to date.  And no, really, not just because Andy Deas gives a shout-out to Theory to Practice  🙂  Seriously, though, these guys do a hell of a job breaking down and commenting on the nutritional aspects of the Paleo lifestyle.   Now if they’d only get busy and shoot some Paleo rap vids for the Nerdcore for Life folks.  If my man Funky49 can rep Fermilab, then I think Andy and Robb ought to step up to the plate for the “pseudo-science” of Paleo  🙂

After a quick turn-around, I was back at in the gym bright and early this morning, and armed with a simple agenda — an explosive pull of some sort, coupled with some elevated-feet ring flyes.  Here’s how it ended-up:

ballistic push-ups: with 30lb vest x 3, 3, 3, 3, 3
elevated feet ring flyes: bw x 10, 10, 30lb vest x 7, 7, 6
Russian lunge (ballistic, for max height): 30lb vest x 3, 3, 3, 3, 3 (each leg, alternating)
clean-grip low pull (bar above belly button): 135 x 7; 185 x 5; 225 x 3, 3, 3 (emphasis on execution speed)

5 total rounds, with the 1st round being a bridge from the warm-up.  Very little rest between exercises.  ballistic push-ups and lunges were performed as CNS “primers”.  40 total minutes, from the time I walked into the gym, ’til the time I hit the showers.

Post workout meal?  Two soft-boiled, free-range eggs (hella-orange yokes!) and about two tablespoons raw butter; approximately 1 hour post-shower.

Oh and hey, looking for an absolutely knock-down-drag-out dissertation on human metabolism and energy production?  Look now further than this 3-video series brought to you by the folks at CrossFit.  Here’s an explanation of the series, straight from the CrossFit Journal site:

On March 12, 2010, Coach Greg Glassman and a small crew visited Dr. Scott Connelly in the Los Angeles offices of Progenex. The intent was to tap into Dr. Connelly’s vast knowledge of metabolism, particularly as it relates to long-term fitness and health.

The result was over 90 minutes of education about the relationships among glucose, insulin, ATP, protein, body weight and health. This is a dense, fast-moving presentation worthy of multiple viewings. Topics include:

* Why a calorie is not just a calorie.
* How insulin resistance was evolutionarily beneficial.
* How “dieting” can make you fatter.
* What happens when you hit the calcium wall.

Whoa…Fabulous stuff!  Thanks CrossFit.  And hey, what are you waiting for?  Get your subscription to the CrossFit Journal.  You’ll be so glad you did.

3/25/10; The 20-minute Workout, and When Will is an Illusion

Can you really get a decent workout in 20 minutes?  Hell, yeah — but you have to be willing to be pretty creative.  Of course, I much prefer the “luxury” of having a full hour or so to go from sluggish blood and tight limbs to grinding out that very last rep; however, we all know that life (and usually friggin’ working life) oftentimes intervenes.  This is why I try to workout first thing in the morning, prior to giving the day’s work-related events from mucking things up.  But sometimes even that’s not enough.

Today was another one of those days, as I had to go from a dead-start to hittin’ the shower in 30 minutes.  Add to this the fact that I spent about 45 minutes in the fixie saddle yesterday (spring fixie fever is kickin’ in!), so I woke up fairly tight in the hips and legs.

So following 10 minutes of abbreviated (though intense) hip/lower body mobility work, I hit 20 minutes worth of this:

elevated feet ring flyes: 30lb vest x 6, 6, 6, 6, 5, 5

GHR: 30 lb vest x 6, 30 lb vest + 15lb db x 4, 4, 4, 4, 3

I performed 1 primer round before I dove into the real McCoy rounds.

Elevated feet ring flyes are, in my opinion, the king of flat flye/pressing movements, turning a mundane movement into one in which the entire body must be fully engaged.

Recent Findings: Will Power and Fluctuating Blood Glucose

This study is illuminating to say the least, if viewed through a Paleo prism.  What’s the best way to control blood glucose levels?  Simple — become a fat metabolizer.   But to do that, you’ve got to break on through to the other side…

Now with that in mind, check out these two clips from Dr. Daniel Amen.  Part 1 here, and then Part 2.   Again, you’ll have to suffer a fair amount of “old skool” thought (eat many times a day to control blood glucose levels, eat carbs at night, blah, blah, blah…) — but again, look at these ideas from a Paleo point-of-view, and with an eye toward helping folks scale the carb jones wall.  Remember, it ain’t always easy for some during those initial Paleo weeks.

Controlling blood sugar?  Well hell yeah, that’s what we in the Paleo community have primed our bodies to do — and we do it on a daily basis, quite naturally, and without a moment’s thought.  And since we’re fat-burnin’, ketosis machines, we don’t have to fiddle with eating all the time to control those glucose levels.  Anyway, check out what the good doc has to say – and focus on what he says are the consequences of poor glucose control, not his ideas on how to control those levels.  Take what is useful, discard what is not.

Of course, it’s easy to Paleo-parody the above study, and Dr. Amens’ clips, too — but again, let’s step back for a moment and sift this material for the hidden gold nuggets – show this to a non-Paleo friend, colleague or loved one as a “bridge” into the full-on Paleo way.

SAD to Paleo is quite a drastic leap for most of the population.  I’ve written about the Paleo transition before (here, for instance), and the huge part that overcoming the initial carb jones is to ultimate Paleo success.  And what is carb jones, if not the body reacting to a low blood glucose level?  Maybe this can be of some help to newcomers to the Paleo way.

And remember kids, no matter what the hollow-eyed, carb-jonesin’ ghouls may tell you, Stevia is not the answer!  The body still responds the same to the taste of sweet — it matters not whether that sweet is sugar, HFCS, or an artificial sweetener like Stevia.  Leave the sugar methadone alone.

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.

1/3/10, Tire Flips & Such – In the Cold!

Thought for the day: wind-chill sucks!  Even though the actual temperature wasn’t all that bad.  Began the day with a fixie huck up to the “playground” – for whatever good that did as a warm-up 🙂  Then:

  • dislocates, 1 x 50
  • 50 yard sprints x 6

Followed by:

  • tire flips x 6 (minimal rest between flips, each flip as fast as possible)
  • foot-elevated ring flyes, 2 x 12
  • straight-bar muscle-ups, rest-pause singles until miss (10, 13, 11)

Three rounds of that.  Don’t know what the deal was with the first round of muscle-ups – maybe I wasn’t fully warm?

The tire I used is an old Armstrong 18.4 R38 tractor tire.  I don’t know how heavy that thing is, but it’s sure awkward as all hell to flip.

Performed this workout in an 18-hour fasted state.  Post workout nutrition was a Fage Total with a handful of pecans.

This will set me up for a Tuesday AM push-press/Rev grip pull-up workout.

11/29/09, A Quick Workout; in Anticipation of a Day’s Worth of Travel

Wow, so thankful to be able to get out and about today prior to spending the balance of the day bottled-up in a vehicle and on the road.  Bright, sunny skies, low 60’s, no humidity…simply stunning!  End of November, and I’m able to get in some sprints – not only barefooted, but shirtless as well!   A little natural vitamin D does a body (and an attitude) some serious good.  Again, nothing mind-blowing here, just a little bit of explosive movement in the glorious sunshine!

  • Sprint starts x 30 meters x 5.  Full acceleration to 30 meters, followed by fast as possible deceleration to full stop.
  • straight bar muscle-up combo x 3 ==> reverse-grip ballistic pull-up, reverse grip in mid air transition, decelerate/transition to regular grip muscle-up = 1 “rep”
  • elevated feet ring flye x 12

4 rounds of this.  I had a little extra time at the conclusion of this, so I hit singles (15 secs rest or so in between each rep) of the m/u combo until I failed.  Quit counting at 7 reps.  Would have stayed outside forever if I didn’t have to get on the road.

11/22/09, More Towards Aggressive Play Than a Workout…

…still, it deserves a post:

Approximately 30 minutes worth of Fixie interval sprints, followed by:

  • 200 yard sprint/strides @ 80+% (100 yards, pause, 100 yards) barefooted, artificial turf.
  • straight bar muscle-ups x 3
  • ballistic ring flyes x 5
  • sprint starts x 20 yards x 3
  • navel-high box jumps x 3

5 rounds.  This was more to take advantage of the beautiful, crisp day than to pursue a meaningful workout.  Nice to get out and about.  The onset of winter will limit these types of opportunities to few and far between in the coming months.