Friday, 27 February 2009

Friday Dynamics

My recent illness has now metamorphosed in to Tonsilitis. So much for paleo eating making me bullet-proof to illness. But it is not too severe and physically, I feel very strong and able....but boy can it hurt when I swallow.

I have kicked back a bit and cut down on the martial arts to one session a week. However I have cranked up the climbing a bit with a few social session of bouldering (ie nothing too intensive).

Today I headed back in the gym with the intention of moving weight- FAST!

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25mins)
1a) Pillar Jumps (to a 'comfortable' height, emphasising speed)
1b) Medicine Ball Throws (emphasise speed)
-- 8 Sets x 2 Reps, 20s rest between --

2a) Kneel to HS/Hand Walk
2b) Wall Walk
-- 4 Sets x 3 Reps, 40s rest between --

3b) Two Handed Rows
-- 8 Sets x 2 Reps, 20s rest between --

4a) Planche
4b) Body Lever
4c) Cuts
-- 4x15sec in the static holds with 30s rest between in cuts --

It was again one of those short intense workouts from which I strode out of the gym feeling warmed through but still strong. In each case above, the money-shot came with the last set or two.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Monday Sunshine Workout

Six weeks in to the year I have tweaked my program slightly and on Mondays will be focusing on (about) 3 sets of (about) 3 reps in a mini cycle. The idea is that the exercises should be hard, but completed in form (and without going to failure).

I headed down to the gym at lunch in what was a really warm day. It was cloudy but every so often the sun broke through. Spring has sprung and it was great to be working-out outside to greet it!

I managed to do all the routine outside apart from the bar-work (Lock Offs and Levers). Thus I got a "dose of the D". If only there was a suitable tree in the area......

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25mins)
1a) Pistols
1b) Planche (4x15s=1min)
1c) Cuts (30s per side)

2a) HeSPU (Kneel to HS)
2b) Assisted HeSPUs
2c) Kneel Backs/Back Bridge
--(3reps; 3sets)--

3a) Body Lever (4x15s=1min)
3b) One Arm Lock Off (3x3sec each side)

I felt monumentally strong on the Lock-Offs and will increase the length of time to make it challenging. The Levers also felt good and I am starting to extend my legs as the shoulders felt absolutely solid!

Of significant note is that I performed 3 sets of 3 pistols on both legs totally unassisted. This is new benchmark for me. I will stick at his level for a while and consolidate. I recently had a niggling knee injury that I feel recovered from, but which should act as a cautionary tale!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Business As Usual

I have had few days off since the middle of the week as my cold seemed to develop in to a viral infection. The glands in my neck were swollen like a King Cobra and from Wednesday night to Saturday morning and I HAD to have 12hours sleep a night each day!

Fasting 24hrs a few times and lots of low intensity work - ie walking with the kids outdoors in the sunshine along with plenty of fluids quickly has enabled me to overcome the illness. When ill I compress my eating in to a 4 hour window but in this instance generally ate only once a day for the three days.

Tonight I went back to a climbing focused workout. As it is summer I intend to push the practical/application side of my training a bit further towards climbing.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (20 mins)
1a) Basic Ring Routine
1b) Ring Splits
1c) Laddering
-- (3Sets x 3 Reps) --

I have cut back on the sprinting due to my knee ache of last week and to allow for the long walk I did with Captain Kid on Friday. The knee feels good but it probably is a good idea to give it a bit more time.

Although the main section was 3x3, I did a couple of extra sets on the fingerboard changing grips and rung size accordingly.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

How to Scare Yourself with the Internet

I have mentioned in previous posts that I have a niggling injury in my right knee. It is a VERY mild discomfort that does not stop me doing anything but which I can feel before and after exercise.

The Internet is a wonderful thing. And after a lunch hour spent avoiding numerous adverts advising how I can 'satisfy my woman' and 'lucky' gambling strategies, I managed to self diagnose this injury.

I have long advocated listening to your body. We are terrible at it. However it was apparent to me that my injury is one of 'over use' as I have ramped up the intensity of my training in recent weeks. In particular, frequent sprints on the road, Kill Carry work, snatches, pistols and lots of jumping has taken its toll resulting in what would appear to be 'patellar tendinopathy'.

Self diagnosis from the Internet is a scourge of the modern age. If I followed all the diagnostic advice available then I would be self-diagnosed with 'Intergalactic Knee Cancer' and wrapping my head in foil whilst sitting in a bath of milk. But I think rest and plenty of gentle walking will resolve the issue.

Even if the diagnosis is wrong (patellar tendinopathy, not 'Intergalactic Knee Cancer' ), a period of rest is advisable as a first step when feeling chronic aches. If tackled early enough, I feel no need to 'immobilise'.

Of the activities I have listed above, I will stop all but sprinting and pistols (the latter does not seem to cause any problem). Even with the sprints and pistols I will restrict myself to three sets of each once a week (and several days apart).

Hopefully, after maybe four weeks I will be able to ramp things back up (I can't live without jumping!).

Monday, 16 February 2009

Monday Gymnastics

Another great Winter's day with only thin cloud and much warmth in the shade. I managed to perform the first 10 minutes or so outside before having to retreat indoors to use the mats and the bars.

Warm Up (5mins)
Main (25mins)
1) Assisted Pistols (4x8)
2a) Frog Planche (4x15s)
2b) Cuts (30s)
3a) Headstand Lowers (4x4)
3b) Kneel Backs (4x30s)
4) Levers (4x15s)

I feel my progress in the planche has degraded so I am cutting back to the frog variation and am intent on consolidation. You may also notice that rather than mini circuits, again I have favoured focusing on exercises in isolation (with maybe a passive stretch in between sets). My rests are less than a minute at the moment.

It is tempting to always try to 'push on' when a particular load becomes easy, but this 'ease' should be treated as a form of recovery. Adaption takes time and you have to be careful not to outrun adaption. Optimally, you keep up with inate adaption.

Despite these changes, I will continue to enrich my workouts with one maximal strength and one dynamic strength workout a week.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Sunday's HG Workout

I seem to have a bit of an ache under my right knee cap. I am not sure what is causing it but I am going to cut back a bit on the sprinting - well sprinting on roads anyway. It could also be related to kick-boxing so I need to try to take it a bit easier on the kicks.

We went swimming earlier in the day which I find quite therapeutic. In addition I fasted today after a feast of chocolate yesterday! I like to fast on either Saturday or Sunday and then one further day in the week (normally Wednesday).

This evening I decided to focus on individual exercises rather than my usual short-circuits. the rest times were kept well under a minute:

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25mins)
1) 5x80m Hill Sprints (rest of <1min)
2) 5x Ring Sequence (rest of 45s)
3) 4x Ring Scissors (hold last rep for 5sec)

4) 3x Assisted Ladders (rest for 1 minute)
5) 4x Ladders (rest 45s)

I was still feeling the snatches from Friday (I REALLY ripped the weight up from the ground) and so eased back on the leg work ever so slightly this evening. The last two exercises were purely aimed at finger strength and so were not really relevant in the wider training context.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Friday Hypertrophy

I decided to put in some focus on individual exercises today. It was another fine lunchtime so I was outside for the warm up. Time was limited so I introduced an old favourite....

I performed one of my rare iron exercises; One Arm Dumbell Snatch from Floor. As I have maintained previously, taking a weight from the ground and lifting it above the head is a fantastic exercise which works a whole chain of muscles. (I was still feeling this in my legs on Sunday).

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main(20 mins)
1) One Arm Dumbell Snatch from Floor (10kgx12, 16kgx8, 20kgx4, 22kgx4 28kgx2)
2) Wall Walks (4x5reps)
3) Planche (15s, 15s, 5s, 15s)
4) Lever (15s, 15s, 5s, 15s)
5) Cuts (30s per side)

The planche and lever are two exercises that truly work just about the whole body. Maximal effort in minimal time.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Digit Strength Ideas

Isometric (Repeaters):
Set = 10reps x 10secs (5s rest between each hang)
4 mins rest between sets
3-5 Sets

Isotonic (Laddering):
Set = 5-8 Reps
30s -1min rest between sets
3-5 Sets

Plyometric (Double Dyno)
Set = 3-5 reps
4 mins rest between sets
3-5 Sets

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Tuesday Workout in the Sun

So Tuesday lunchtime was another fantastic blue-sky day here in the heart of the UK. You know there is this idea that we don't get much sun in the UK or that it is always grey skied - but when you open your 'paleo eyes' and are looking for that window of opportunity to go outside and 'do something', there seems to be quite a lot of sun time up for grabs.

There was snow on the ground and it was cold in the shade and in unsheltered areas, but if you could find a courtyard (as I did), then it was possible to train in conditions that I would describe as warm. Training in bright sunshine wearing just shorts and a vest in the middle of the UK's worse snow storms for 20 years is possible!

The routine was one of my old favourites with plenty of dynamic action outdoors before heading in doors for some gymnastic specific stuff:

Warm Up (5 minutes of the usual joint rotations and swings)
Main (10 mins)
1a) Touch-Line Shuttle Sprints (4x6)
1b) Medicine Ball Throws (5x2kg, 5x3kg, 5x5kg, 5x5kg)
1c) Pillar Jumps (4x5)

The TLSS emphasised acceleration, the MBTs emphasised explosive power - as did the pillar jumps.

Finally I went indoors for a quick gymnastic session (15mins):

1a) Back Bridge (3x15s)
1b) Planche (15s, 5s, 5s)
1c) Head Stand Leg Raises (3x4raises)

2a) Levers (15s, 5s, 5s)
2b) Cuts (3x 30s each side)

Having been inspired by the videos in my previous post and feeling a certain sense of stagnation with my planche (for stagnation, read impatience), I have decided to vary my planche training slightly.

I intend to introduce some Waist Press Ups (WPUs), which are press ups with your hand positioned as far back as possible.

I have already introduced the 'mega saw-tooth' approach of sporadic planching in the evening in a 'playful' fashion (Captain Kid and Flash's preferred training mode), along with my standard frog and tuck planches. This should get me past my current plateau - although as you see above, I have cut back on the sets in the gym to compensate for a general increase in volume.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Mega Saw Tooth - Weekend Action

I have been hit with a hard cold. My last cold that was this bad struck after a heavy weekend at a mate's pub. Both he and the pub shall remain nameless, well OK, he will remain nameless, but this was the scene of the crime. As high-carb crime scenes go, this is by far one of the most pleasant and enjoyable.

So in the grip of a cold, and having stagnated on my planches (levers seem to come a lot easier, although this may be due to my background as a climber), I have kept the workouts very short and the rests massive. In fact I have been performing sporadic planches throughout the day (five seconds in the tuck or 15 seconds in the frog) with HOURS in between. The same has gone for my levers and deadhanging.

Welcome to the world of the Mega Saw Tooth!

Mega Saw Tooth
Sometimes you want to hit an exercise absolutely refreshed. Sometimes you want to blow your cookies on an 'all or nothing' attempt. This is fine as long as you start the day with a warm up, you rest biiiig in between attempts and do not go to failure. Oh yeah, and don't stress about reps.

Better still for me, this fits in with how Flash and Captain Kid train. They will play quietly or watch TV for a period of time and then there are 'explosions' of activity. The quite times are when the spring is being coiled and then BAM! The energy is released.

The weather is particularly cold and there is a lot of snow on the ground making sprinting difficult. We did a short walk in the woods but Flash's gyros limit her ability to walk on ice!

As usual however, I have embraced the changes thrust upon me and adjusted my training accordingly.

The cold is now in remission but more heavy snow is on the way. I will do a bit more walking and continue with the current 'free form' approach to training.

Bodyweight training; the gym you can fit in to your underpants!



Friday, 6 February 2009

Where to Start?

You know that I love gymnastic ability. It is the ultimate in functional training and requires so many qualities including strength, agility, balance, flexibility. Even with the strength you can break it down in to dynamic strength, maximal strength and so forth.

I have come VERY late to gymnastics and I know that I will never hit the highest levels - but I can dream that one day, I just might be able to do something like this:


For those endeavouring to get a full planche, check out this film:

.....and an excellent primer on handstand work:

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Gymnastic Workout

The country ground to a halt over the past day or two. A bit of snow seemed to have crippled most of our infrastructure. Luckily, this break coincided with my intention of taking it easy for a few days to let one or two war wounds heal.

Yesterday I got the chance to work from home because of the snow - and also to snowboard down my street. I reckon my street is a 'blue' but the problem of traffic might have pushed it up to a 'red'.

Today I eased back in to my training. I headed to the gym in a short sleeve cotton shirt as it was quite warm in the sun and we all need our vitamin D! I went past a shool and the kids were still out for their lunchtime break - quite a few of them were similarly attired in short sleeves. Their intermittent and vigorous 'play' in the sunshine was reaffirming in how we can draw inspiration from those who have not lost touch with their instincts.

Normally I would perform a bit sprinting, but the chopped, icy ground made sprinting too difficult/risky. Thus my focus on basic gymnastics:

Warm Up (5 minutes of the usual joint rotations and swings)
Main (10 mins)
1a) Planche (5s, 5s, 15s, 15s)
1b) Back Bridge (4x15s)
1c) Lever (5s, 5s, 15s, 15s)

I performed planche and lever variations for the allotted time. I need to maintain volume as well as preparation for harder variations. The back bridges are really quite enjoyable at the moment - pleasantly stretching the shoulders as much as working the back.

Tonight I will go to my Lau Gar class. This will be pretty exhausting but will give me an all-over warm up - after which I will head home and then perform the following:

Warm Up (5 minutes of the usual joint rotations and swings)
2a) One Arm Dead Hang (4x15s each arm)

The deadhangs will be at a maximal intensity.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Sunday Climbing Quickie

The weather was bitterly cold today. There was a mild dusting of snow and as Friday's workout was rather heavy, I just made tonight a quick session with an emphasis on climbing strength. I work out in my garage and it was sub zero in there!

The fingers can be particularly hard to warm up at the best of times. Add to that the fact that I wanted to work the fingers at a very high intensity - and this could have been a recipe for disaster.

However, I commonly put a bit of sprinting in to my warm up - shuttles or similar, along with my standard warm up, this really does get blood flowing to every extremity. A pair of gloves assisted warming of the fingers and allowed my to hit the fingerboard hard.

Warm Up (5 mins)

Main (15 mins)

1a) 60m Hill Sprints (emphasis on 'gazelle' stride)

1b) Basic Ring Routine

1c) Laddering (three grip - Closed, Open and Crimp)

Repeat for a total of four times!

2) Kill Carry (short circuit, unweighted)

I felt tired - not so much in the sprints (which were of a lower intensity than normal), but the ring routine and the laddering quickly exposed residual fatigue in my upper body. I will take it easy for a few days.

The kill carry was actually very enjoyable. The street was deserted, the sky was gun-metal grey with snow clouds, the wind bitingly cold and the only sound was the crunch of snow beneath my feet. It is quite calming phase of my workout and felt particularly 'primal' and elemental today.

I have a mild occasional ache in my right knee and also my lower back which seems to have come from the Kill Carry last week. Something for me to watch out for!

It is easy not to listen to your body, and to 'push through'. But your body is in it for the both of you! There are times to carry on in this state, but for me, now is not one of them.