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,


“I’d rather live with a good question than a bad answer.” – Aryeh Frimer

I like to revisit certain performance markers every now and again throughout the ebb and flow of the training season; markers that, over the years, I have been able to correlate, at least within myself, to a well-rounded athleticism.   These are not, mind you, performance maxes or PRs.   In other words, these markers are not the result of a performance driven by a particular dedicated and pin-pointed focus, but rather a performance indicator that, in a well-rounded athletic sense, things are as they should be; that no excessive imbalance exists between speed, strength and sprint repeat endurance.  In fact, I use such touchstones as an indication that any dedicated focus that I might be engaged in has not resulted in the degradation of another, “competing” factor.   For instance, pushing a max squat number at the expense of (in my case, at least), sprinting and/or repeat speed or performance.  Conversely, I know that a nice, snappy, 7 rep 2xBW deadlift, while I’m in the throes of sprinting/saddle-time season, is a good indication that I’m still good-to-go in the weight room.

15 under 15 and in 15

…or, as they were affectionately known back in the day, simply “15’s”

Hard as it is to believe now days, collegiate football players of the early 1980’s actually went back home during the summers and (the Brian Bosworth‘s and SMU‘s of college football notwithstanding) worked legitimate — and in my case, heavy-ass, manual labor — jobs over the summer break.  The coaching staffs at that time sent players home with the parting message that said jocks better (insert filthy string of pejoratives) return “in shape and ready to play”, lest they face some unspecified, but decidedly heinous, form of public castration.  In our case, said punishment would surely be performed in front of a full assembly of cheering Strutters.

Nothing like a little incentive.

And still, few paid the threat any mind.  Oh to be 20 and bullet proof once more 🙂

At any rate, every August, upon returning to camp in preparation for the upcoming season, linebackers, strong safeties*, and tight ends were expected to be able to reel-off 15 100-yrd sprints, all in less than 15 seconds each, with a 45 second recovery before the start of the next sprint.  Nothing superhuman here of course, but pulling this off does reveal a decent, base level of repeat sprint endurance.  Something to work with, something from which to build upon.  And I still use it as a yardstick test today.  Other, more accurate measures of sprint repeat endurance could surely be argued for, but this simple (on paper anyway!) test is at once a great workout in-and-of-itself, and pretty decent measure of fitness.

I’d just like to report that I passed this test with flying colors this past Sunday, just as I did every August during my career.  Yeah, I was one of those  guys, even back then.  One of those middling talent guys who had to “train” their way onto the playing field.

In health,


*note – that strong safties were considered “small, fast, linebackers” is, in itself, telling of a bygone era; defenses designed for a single purpose — to stop the option.

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 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,

4/10/10; Today’s Workout, and Paleo Chow on the Fly

Actually, let’s back up just a moment and look at last night’s dinner.  Now remember, I absolutely LOVE to eat skillfully prepared, intricate and exquisite meals; thank goodness, then, for Meesus TTP’s kitchen skills, and for the talents of my favorite restaurant’s fine chefs.  Making such meals myself, though?  Meh, I’ve neither the time nor the inclination for that.  I can pull off a pretty good Paleo kitchen improv, though; case in point: after returning from an evening fixie spin, I found I had the following on hand (and not much else, by the way):

1 lb ground sausage
1 lb ground buffalo
1 large sweet onion
2 medium sweet potatoes

Hmmmm, what to do.  OK, so I sliced, seasoned, buttered and roasted roasted the sweet potatoes in the oven, chopped and sauteed the entire onion in a butter/coconut oil mix in a cast iron skillet.  Then, once the onion was done, I added the sausage and buffalo to the skillet mix (along with a sundry of spices…whatever looked like it might work), and cooked that until done.  The result?  A pretty damn good, on the fly meal — even it it wouldn’t win too many creative points.  So, waddaya think?  Am I Iron Chef material?  Heh…

OK, so flash forward to today, and today’s workout:

  • 30 minute intermittent-intensity fixie ride
  • barefooted sprints — 8 x 100 yds @ <13 secs/sprint, approx. 1 minute between runs.
  • 20 minute intermittent-intensity fixie ride

Then it was in the gym for the following:

  • clean grip low pull (out of the rack): 135 x 7; 225 x 5; 315 x 5; 365 x 3, 3, 3, 3, 3,
  • elevated feet ballistic push-ups x 7 — or —
  • elevated feet medicine ball push-up x 6 each arm

So 7 total rounds here.  I alternated between “normal” dual-arm ballistic push-ups, and the medicine ball, single-arm variety.  The single-arm variety was done as explosively as possible while minimizing the contribution from the “off” arm.  Minimized hand-to-ground contact time on both varieties, maximized “air” time.  The bar was set just above the knee for the rack pulls.  Full triple extension (and up to full tip-toe), full shrug, and explosive on each rep.

Pretty good demonstration of med. ball push-ups here.  Now, I performed mine with feet elevated (about 18″), and I performed 6 reps with one arm, then shifted to the other for another 6.  Just another variant of this fine exercise.  One thing to keep in mind is to not let your hips sag while doing any manner of push-up — no saddle-back horse look-alikes aloud!

Another 15 minutes worth of fixie huckin’ to get home.  By this time I’ve been fasted for 18 hours; I won’t eat for another 2.  And when I do eat, it’s this:

Remember last night’s dinner?  Well, here’s part of the left overs —

Me thinks a couple of free-range eggs will go well to top that off; here’s the end product:

Check out those yokes!  By the way, the egg on the right is a duck egg.  This concoction doesn’t look like much, but it sure tasted good!

A Saturday Sprint Session, and the Dose/Response/Drop-off Relationship

“…Some guys they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece,
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin’ in the street.
Bruce Spingsteen.  Though I’m kinda partial to my buddy Charlie Robison’s version.

Saturday’s workout commenced during hour 18 of an IF (intermittent fast), and consisted of a good deal of fixie interval sprints followed by a barefooted sprint session on artificial turf.  That my posterior chain was still pretty well zorched as a result of Friday’s deadlift/RDL hybrid may lead you to ask why the hell, then, follow that up with a sprint-intensive workout? And on logical terms I have to agree that this seems a poor choice at best.  However, this is where the real world meets the dose – response ratio, and where proper application of drop-offs can save even an illogical right-brainer from overdoing things.

I’ve got a big week ahead full of packing and moving that I know will preclude me from getting to the gym for a while.  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are maybe’s – after that it’s a no-go for at least a week to 10 days.  Not only that, but this looks to be my last opportunity to workout at the ECU sporting complex.  I hate to leave this fine “playground” behind, but onward I must go.  New opportunities and new “playgrounds” I’ll find (or make) to be sure.  No regrets, no looking back.  Anyway, so add a pinch of “sentimentality” to the “real world” aspect of absolutely needing to sprint today; 17 years worth of “playground fun” will be sorely missed, no doubt.  Fond, fond memories.

Well, ok then – so let’s first take a quick look at the dose – response curve as I see it and as I operate by; my training “north star”, if you will.  If you follow no other “map” in your physical culture journey, please follow this one.  Tweak it as need be to fit your n=1 requirements, and be true to it.

My apologies for the crappy photo.  The “good” camera has already been packed away, so this was taken with my phone.  Anyway, what you see depicted here on the x-axis is “time” and on the y-axis we have “fitness level”, or “ability”, if you prefer.  The shaded area in the (x, -y) quadrant is “total induced fatigue, or stress”, with the shaded area in the (x, y) quadrant being “super-compensation”.  This is no more than a visual way of depicting the phenomena of working out, recovering for a few days, and at the end of that few days, being able to to workout again, but this time at a higher degree of fitness.

Ahh, but if only it were that easy.

Try to wrap your mind around all the things that can contribute to your overall “fatigue” level and you’ll end up in the funny farm in no time.  Work stress, sleep deprivation, money worries – you get the idea.  And I’m not even considering yet how the effect of Monday’s MetCon workout coupled with Wednesday’s heavy deadlift day and Thursday’s “moving the tanning bed down 2 flights of stairs and through a maze of packed boxes” will effect Friday’s planned bout of push-pressing.  Unless you happen to be a professional athlete though, or are just plain lucky enough to better control your outside “fatigue inducers” and are not hampered by any other obligations that can interfere with your workout schedule, then this is the “real life” that you’re bound to grapple with.  So what to do?

Enter Auto-Regulation, and the Drop-off method of gauging induced fatigue.

Let’s take Saturday’s barefooted sprint workout as an example.  Remember that my posterior chain is a bit fatigued already; overall, though, I feel pretty damn good and ready to rock & roll (Paleo does a body good, real good).  Now I’ve got a determination to make: I know I’m fatigued a bit, and so relative to my “prime (i.e., fully recovered, non-fatigued)” sprint condition, I’m sitting somewhere below baseline, in the (x, -y) quadrant, so to speak.  I want a nice sprint workout, yet I don’t want to trash myself either.  I need a way to somewhat gauge how much stress I’m putting on  my system, so that I can pull the plug on the session before I end up digging myself into a recovery hole that I won’t be able to climb out of.   The answer?  Well, under this particular set of circumstances, I chose a “sprint for time” session: a 6 second sprint, followed by a measure of the distance covered in each sprint, and once unable to match my best distance for the day, I pull the plug.  Each sprint duration was held at a constant 6 seconds throughout, with a standing start.  The distance covered in each sprint hovered around the 50 yard mark, though this wasn’t important in and of itself – what was important was the distance covered relative to the day’s other sprints.  I marked my best distance with a cone, nudging it further and further out as each successive sprint covered a tad bit more ground.  Here’s what it looked liked in practice:

  1. set mark
  2. beat mark, reset cone
  3. beat mark, reset cone
  4. beat mark, reset cone
  5. beat mark, reset cone
  6. beat mark, reset cone
  7. beat mark, reset cone
  8. equaled mark
  9. beat mark, reset cone
  10. equaled mark
  11. equaled mark
  12. miss, end session

Now if I had wanted to induce more fatigue, all I would have to do is continue on until I missed my day’s PR by a certain percentage – anywhere up to about a 10% drop-off is what I shoot for when I use this method, depending upon the modality employed.  As this was a pure speed workout (long rest intervals between individual sprints) as opposed to a more MetCon-leaning session (short rest between sprints), I opted for a “1 miss and done” drop-off.  If I were doing something more along the lines of MetCon work, I might opt for a drop-off of say 5% (or roughly 2.5 yards off of the best run of the day), in which case I would continue, 6-sec. sprint after 6-sec. sprint, until I missed my best mark by 2.5 yards.

Is this an exact science?  No, it’s only to be used as an indicator – but it’s a hell of a lot better than a shot-in-the-dark SWAG at how much fatigue should be induced, or how much is actually received, in a given workout.

Armed with this information, then, I can begin, over time, to correlate a dose – recovery factor for myself.  Everyone has different recovery abilities, though, so my “recovery factor” will differ from someone else’s.  In general terms, I can usually count on a recovery factor of about 1.2 days / % of induced fatigue on a like movement and modality.  In other words, if I were to have completed the above MetCon sprint session example (6 sec. sprints for distance, 5% drop-off), I’d wait at least 6 days (1.2 days x 5%), before tackling this same type workout again.  Sometime between 6 – 8 days, then ought to put me in the (x, y) quadrant, super-compensated sweet-spot – time to hit the same movement and modality again.

Again, this is not a precise science, as in real life there are just too many fatigue-inducing variables to have to juggle.  And to complicate matters, I’m forever altering my workout methods, movements and modalities.  Just as an example, what if I were to throw in an extremely tough, heavy dip and pull-up day right in the middle of my 6-day “recovery”?  Or get hit with a stressful marathon work tsunami?  Either will certainly induce a systemic fatigue that undoubtedly will affect my recovery from the preceding sprint session, so maybe I’ll bump my next planned sprint session out an extra day, just to be safe.  And when I do step barefooted back out onto the turf, I’ll again employ the auto-regulation/drop-off method to keep close tabs on my induced fatigue.

Doug McGuff employs a similar recovery methodology in his Body By Science protocol.  And since Doug is able to more accurately define the amount of induced fatigue dosed in a period of time (due to the nature of his overall workout protocol), he is therefore better able to more accurately predict a trainee’s “recovery factor” – as would I have been able to had I removed the heavy dip and pull-up workout from my example above.

This is yet another angle on the give-and-take, yin-yang nature of physical culture.  Another tool for the toolbox, another aspect to consider, discuss and refine.

In health,

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.

1/2/10, MetCon for Sprinters

No sympathy, I know, from my friends stuck in more northern latitudes, but this “southern latitude” boy had a rough go of it today – 32 mph wind gusts and 20-ish °F wind chill made for a rather cold bout of MetCon work and an even colder spin on the fixie.  Compare my workout today to this workout (the 15 hundreds in 15 minutes sprint session).  I took just a slightly different angle with today’s work, though, performing the same 15, 100 yard sprints within an overall 15 minute timeframe, however, this time I did 15 push-ups immediately following each sprint.  And in lieu of attempting to clock each sprint in under 15 secs, I paced the sprints so as to hit each one between 15 and 18 seconds.  In effect, each “rep” looked like this:

  • Start clock
  • 100 yard sprint (paced to 15 – 18 secs)
  • 15 push-ups
  • at the top of the minute, hit the next sprint
  • repeat x 15

A good little bit of sprinter-biased MetCon work.  Simple in design, a little tougher, though, in execution 🙂

12/10/09, Speed-Strength Emphasis

There’s a subtle difference between emphasis being place on Speed-Strength as opposed to Strength-Speed.  Ideally, the power generation produced by a given exercise/movement performed in each modality would be the same, though.  A quick observation of the meatball power equation (really, this is all we need be concerned with) reveals that, assuming the exercise/movement distance remains constant (and we will – the distance of movement in one’s deadlift, for example is, for all practical purposes, always the same), all we have to manipulate is execution speed and external loading.  For any given loading, an increase in execution speed results in an increased power output; that’s speed emphasis in a nutshell.  Now, increase the loading without realizing a reduction in execution speed and,  ah-ha, we’ve further increased power output.  Fine tune this with some auto-regulation with an eye toward maximum power generation in your desired rep range.  Once execution speed begins to falter, pull the plug on the exercise.

Here’s what went down at 6:15 this morning at the Rocky Mount, NC YMCA:

15 minute, sprint/plyo-intensive warm-up with plenty of dynamic stretching, then –

  • cns prime: sprint starts, 20 meter/20 meter/40 meter/20 meter, approx. 5 sec pause between each start
  • GHR (glute/ham raise): 45 x 5; 60 x 5, 4; 65 x 4, 3
  • Barbell Muscle-up: 115 x 5; 135 x 5; 145 x 4, 4, 3
  • cns prime: reverse grip to regular grip muscle-up combo (pull-up variety) x 2
  • weighted reverse grip pull-ups: 45 x 5; 90 x 3, 3, 3, 2

5 total rounds.  Speed on the concentric portion of every rep was fast as possible.

A couple of questions I hear in person, or field via email:

“Dude, you do a lot of pull-ups…”

I consider pull-ups analogous to sprints for the upper body – the most fundamental of fundamental movements.

“Dude, you do a ton more posterior chain work than you do quad/squat work…”

1. I do a lot of fixie riding, which is mostly quad-intensive work.

2. It is my contention that the body is designed more for “pulling” in this fashion than it is for squatting.  I know well the arguments to the contrary, and I agree that every human being squats while taking a dump.  However, I don’t know of many cultures that take a dump with 500+ balanced upon their backs.  Seriously, though – I personally gauge lower-body performance in terms of sprinting vertical jump ability; in my experience, increasing one’s squat past a certain point (2 x bw is a general rule of thumb) doesn’t do much for an increase in speed or vert height.