Friday, 29 May 2009

Double Unders

I have posted extensively about those athletic and acrobatic feats that inspire me; tricking, parkour, breakdancing, along with extreme sports such as BMX and skateboarding. As part of my Lau Gar training we are encouraged to do a lot of skipping/jump rope work (along with endless crunches and press-ups both of which I hold back on), to improve our fitness.

There is no doubt that the jump-rope is an excellent piece of kit, requiring supreme coordination with many skillful variations to the standard 'schoolgirl in a playground' double footed jump. It is low impact and is open to innovation and playful variation.

Pushed upwards of 200 skips per minute, you will find that one minute intervals are VERY demanding. However, you can add intensity by high stepping (raising your legs up until your thighs are parallel with the floor), which is an absolute killer. Alternatively, you could go as far as Buddy Lee. Never heard of him? Well check out this clip where you will see some extreme skipping involving blinding footwork ("I train the way I fought"), rapier coordination and speed.

Now where is my rope.......

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Stactic Dynamic Protocol

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)
1a) Chair Sit (60s) to Pillar Jumps (3x10)
1b) Handstand (60s) to Alternate One Arm Medicine Ball Throws (3x10)

2a) Lever (15s) to Rows (3x10)
2b) Planche (15s)
2c) RLLs (3x5)
2d) Kneel Backs (60s)

I cycled through each group of exercises three times. Rest times between each set of a particular exercise was up around four minutes. The idea was to perform a static/isometric exercise followed by a dynamic exercise.

The AOAMBTs were with quite a light medicine ball (2kg), but after a minute in a handstand position (I don't recall holding 3 sets of one minute holds before), the weight seemed heavy enough - particularly on the last set. Weight is less important than trying to really throw the ball high - and consistently so!

I could have followed the planche with press ups - but I did press ups in Lau Gar last night, so cut myself some slack. The lower back endured a static stimulus from the planche. The RLLs were slow and controlled.

As always, the end of a set, and the end reps of the last set are where things really got tough. I really enjoyed this workout. I left the gym with gas in the tank. I have to say that although I finished the workout some time ago (3hours), I can certainly feel it. It was sunny with a fresh breeze outside - just right to arouse ones motivation.

Sunday, 24 May 2009


The Tricks Tutorials site was recommended to me several years ago. It was a tutorial on this site that got me to do my first backflip. In fact he has loads of cool tutorials if you're interested.

I had not visited it for some time but came across this video produced by the guys who run the site (Juji & Antoine). It is a pretty awesome example of flexibility, explosive power and kinaesthetic awareness.

It is great how acrobatics has infiltrated/morphed to Parkour, Tumbling, Extreme Martial Arts, Breakdancing etc... If you take a look at the Dew Tour you'll see these same elements in Skiing, Snowboarding, BMXing, MotorCross, Skateboarding amongst others. Not only are some of these pursuits extremely funcional but they also embrace play and fun.

While I am at it, Methuselah sent me a link last week featuring Damien Walters (I think it was the 06 or 07 Showreel). I have seen this guy Tumbling before, and it really is worth checking out some of this footage (all available on his MySpace page). It is to hard to pick a favourite showreel or move - and I recommend you look at all the stuff on his site. The guy has a serious hustle.


Saturday, 23 May 2009


It is not often I get to use the word 'fuckwittery', but anyone subscribing to Bet Dieting is indeed guilty of 'fuckwittery'. The BBC brought this to my attention here, and, having checked it wasn't early April, continued to read how some people have found yet another way to fleece the obese of their cash.

I still doubt the authenticity of the story. Surely nobody could be so dim as to gamble their health with REAL money. I mean marathon running, smoking and vegetarianism are arguably forms of gambling which cost money - but with a feelgood kickback. Joining a gym also involves a loss of cash but with less of a feeling of pleasure (unless some dude in tight shorts barking at you over some dance music to pedal harder on a stationary bike inside a sweaty gym floats your boat).

However, the elevation of something as critical as achieving fat loss to be reduced to such a simple fiscal transaction as betting really does take the cake. The smart ones will go paleo and clean up. If they are really smart, they will stay paleo and achieve a life-affecting change. Unfortunately most will probably go on a low fat, calorie restricted diet; injure their health and get fat as soon as they can get out of this Faustian Pact.

Baise Moi!

Climbing Workout

I needed to get back to a bit of 'phys' after almost two weeks away from dedicated strength work. I broke myself in with a bit of gardening for a warm up followed by my usual climbing-focused routine (my 'Sunday' routine but performed on a Saturday):

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (20 mins)
1a) Sprint (4x10s)
1b) Ring Routine (Adding one MU with each cycle & holding an L-Sit at the top)
1c) Ring Split Scissors (slow and controlled)
1d) Fingerboard Laddering for time.

I made four passes through this cycle (1a-1d), each of which took about 5 mins. I felt weaker on the rings having not done a ring routine for a while. The absence of finger training for the past fortnight meant I felt rather weak on some of the grips.

Good to be back in to it though!

Friday, 22 May 2009

Under Pressure

I found this graphic on a Health & Safety email. I am not sure where the health and safety guys got it from but, if accurate, it gives a very interesting insight in to the pressures at work in the spine.

You could further extrapolate this to other exercises such as a V-Up and its effects along the spine. It made me reflect upon the pressure exerted during weighted exercises on the spine. Consider the effects of a double-bodyweight deadlift for example.

You might even want to think about other body parts. Given the indication of leverages above, what kind of forces are generated upon ones elbows and shoulder blades during a heavy press or upon the shoulders during lat raises? As a (very) amateur gymnast and aspiring 'plancher' and 'body lever' enthusiast, it makes me think about the forces I impart upon my other joints. During a planche, God only knows what kind of forces are generated within your shoulders!

I have long been a fan of bodyweight exercises and I don't really need a graphic to tell me how much force I am generating withing my body. DOMS and the feeling of exhaustion after a good isometric workout tell me that! What this does do is it gives me a bit of a prompt about the amount of rest I need.

I am currently reading Body By Science - and although I don't agree with all that is written, I fully appreciate their emphasis of resting more. Personally this not only means resting around four or five days between workouts (typically training Monday and Friday of week one and Wednesday of week two), but also emphasising sleep. Lots of it - aiming for around nine hours a night.

I don't agree with training to failure. My paleo compass tells me that this would be a VERY traumatic signal. Maybe it is this signal that requires HITters to rest so long? This does not seem practical to me. I want to leave the gym with something left in the bag - in case I get jumped on the way home.

I am a fan of HIT and try to compress my whole workout in to a time 'window' using saw-tooth intensity. Unlike BBS, rather than trying to maintain TUL at an exercise level, I try to fit the whole session in to a workout window - which is a similar idea. If my TUL at exercise level is shorter as I workout faster, I try to get more sets in. This way there is always multi faceted variation in my workout.

Anyway - IMHO BBS is really worth getting - and I may well incorporate this mode of training in to my schedule. Secondly - get with the planches and levers - for here lies brutal forces. If there is ONE thing that demands adaption, it is brutal force!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The Biggest Mistake in Human History

Just in case you missed it, here is an interesting article on the BBC site. Here is a link to Tom Standage's website.

The news clip contains two fallacies in particular that stand out from Peter kendal of the NFU - that of HG starvation and the idea that farming lead to 'people growing taller'.

I would argue that most famines require a dependence on settled agriculture. As for the issue of height, the archeological records speak for themselves.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Soya Good. Soya Bad

Given the last post, I couldn't resist this.

MSN listed their Foods to Make You Beautiful. If you take a quick look you will see the list is entirely paleo by nature (eggs, oily fish, green leafy vegetables, water, berries etc...).

This article has a companion The Ugly Truth About Bad Nutrition (i.e. Foods to Make You Ugly). Again we have the usual suspects - sugary pop, sweets with various additives and other processed goods. Also in the list is soya.

Soya Baaaaad
MSN note that although it was once considered a super-food:
  • "soya could in fact pose a serious health risk. Research in Japan (a country which should know a thing or too about soya) suggests that high levels of soy-based products can play havoc with your thyroid gland, leading to major weight gain and fatigue. Soya apparently blocks the uptake of the chemical iodine, which keeps your thyroid healthy. And it is not as easy to avoid as you would think; it is estimated that soya is found in 60% of processed foods, including breakfast cereals, cheese, cakes, noodles, soups, and sandwich spreads. Experts recommend limiting intake and eating natural, unprocessed foods to avoid any problems."

Now if you go to the bottom of this article you will see a second link to 30 Foods Women Should Try Before They're 30.

Soya Goooood
So....erm no prizes for guessing which 'Food Which Makes You Ugly' we find under the listing of '30 Foods Women Should Try Before They're 30? Go on take a guess! Go on, go on, go on!:

  • "A mature version of edamame, soya beans can be found in many different foods, especially as a substitute for dairy. They are very high in essential amino acids, which makes them a complete source of protein."

I am guessing you are NOT psychic! Your paleo compass will not lead you to soya.

Is it any wonder that the general population are so confused about diet an exercise? There is a general apathy about these subjects because people are suffering from nutrition fatigue and exercise information overload. They are burnt out my the conflicting messages they read on the Internet, hear on the radio, see on TV or read in the papers.

I rejected these sources for my exercise and nutritional guidance several years ago. I latched quickly on to what paleo was or 'might' be. I experimented around my understanding of it. It has brought me a lean and athletic physique. I eat as much as I want, when I want. It really is that simple.

Free Radicals Good. Free Radicals Bad.

This article on the BBC caught my eye, in which it is claimed that vitamins 'undo exercise efforts':

  • Some advocate taking antioxidants like vitamin C and E to help protect the body from harmful chemical by-products it creates in breaking into a sweat. But German scientists now believe these "free radicals" may actually be good for us and even buffer against diabetes, PNAS reports.

It goes on to say:

  • But Dr Michael Ristow, of the University of Jena, and his team have shown free radicals may have a positive effect on the body by increasing its sensitivity to insulin - something that is lost in type 2 diabetes.
So 'cancer causing' free radicals' may now actually be good for us! Personally, I rarely take vitamins pills of any sort. I might take the odd vitamin D pill - but only to get me through winter - and even then infrequently. I am not in to that whole 'run to the pills' mentality.

I try to get all my required vitamins and minerals from a healthy diet consisting of animal and (seasonal) plant food, along with regular outdoor activity and so such stories don't affect me personally.

However, there are people I know who pop vitamins like they are going out of fashion, along with solutions of protein, energy drinks and pro-biotics. None of this appeals to me. Follow the paleo compass!

Another story also caught my eye - 'Sporadic Exercise Can Harm'. Now clearly this hit deep in to my paleo-heart as sporadic exercise is what I do. Not only that, but those damned 'free radicals' reared their ugly head again, only this time to do bad things to us!

  • Scientists at the University of Ulster have found that unaccustomed, aerobic exercise releases dangerous free radicals that can adversely affect normal function in unfit people.
The research involved 'two groups of volunteers, giving one group a mixture of antioxidants, and the other a placebo':
  • "Cellular damage was induced by exercise. But we found that the group who were on the antioxidants had been protected to some extent".

Hmmm - is it just me or do these stories seem to conflict just a wee bit. The latter story does contain this gem:

  • "Blood analysis revealed that the exhaustive aerobic exercise caused damage to important DNA and lipid molecules."
Finally, something I can relate to! It is early days yet and I am sure we will get to see more detail from these papers in the fullness of time.

In the meantime (and just in case you missed it the first time around), follow your paleo compass!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

"Sugar is Genuinely Not Harmful"

I picked up this link from Mark's Daily Apple. It turns out that fat causes obesity and sugar wouldn't (sic)!

Frosties is "a great cereal for after sports or before you go to the gym". Furthermore, "there isn't a relationship with obesity of sugar itself (sic)".

In the filem they talk about measures of ONE bowl of cereal - but c'mon, have you seen the size of a recommended portion of cereal? How often do you see children eating more than one bowl? Clearly moderating calories in expending more calories than you eat IS the way to an strong, athletic physique 'coz this video says so and has doctors in it and everything.

Apparently we should aim for no more than 17g of sugar (NOT sugars) for the whole breakfast! In fact I am not sure they actually say that sugary cereal is good for you, with a bit of sophistry they emphasise the importance of breakfast as a meal.

The take home message is that "sugar is genuinely not harmful".

Fucking unbelievable.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Friday Dynamic

As I am training twice in a week, I intended for this workout to be lighter than usual. It sticks with a RM60% but in it, I didn't work too deeply in to the lactic.

I split these movements into 2 mini-groups, which in retrospect I should not really have done. But it was raining outside and the gym was reasonably busy so I had to adapt for space.

The aim was 4 sets of 15 reps. As usual, last reps of the last set or two should provide the money-shot. Each circuit should take around 3 minutes, but you can rest until 5mins has passed from the first rep of an exercise until the first rep of the following set.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 Mins)
1a) Alternate One-Arm Dumbell Snatch (14kg 4x15)
1b) Frog Planche (4x15s)

2a) Back Bridge (3x15s)
2b) Walking on Hands (3x'for time')
2c) Rows (3x15)
2d) Tuck Lever (3x15s)

I hit four reps of the first pairing but only three reps of the second as fatigue set in. The rows were changed from a Smith Machine to One Arm Dumbell Rows as fatigue demanded!

Snatches made another appearance due to adverse weather. I kind of like throwing weights up in to the air. It is important to maintain the drive through the heels and let the legs do the work. Also important is to lower the weight under control.

The rows and snatches were done with dynamic flair on the concentric phase. The hand walks involved rapid changes of hands (like little steps).

Fatigue and exercise-order coupled with the my intention of a 'lighter' session meant that I did more than anticipated in terms of time and less sets than I wanted. But my goal is always to make it intense and get out of the gym in around 30 minutes, which I achieved.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Tuesday Power

Today was more of a power session. I aimed for RM55% and quick movement of the weights. The weather was grim so I stayed indoors. Pathetic I know - but after a weekend of camping, I figured I was dosed up on vitamin D!

The idea is to repeat this as a mini-circuit. The aim was 5 sets of 7 reps. The last set or two should provide the money-shot. Each circuit should take around 4mins if you keep the tempo up.
Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (20 Mins)
1a) Alternate One-Arm Dumbell Snatch (18kg 5x7)
1b) Chin Ups (5x7)
1c) Back Bridge (5x15s)
1d) Frog Planche (5x15s)
1e) Tuck Lever (5x15s)

This workout should really hit you some time after you leave the gym. Make sure you employ good form. Lower the dumbells under great control - and use good from on the pull ups. The negative phase of each exercise should be as long or longer than the concentric phase. Move quickly between exercises.

Part 2

Tonight I did a 30 minute climbing oriented workout:

1a) Rope Climbing

1b) Assorted Laddering (working all three main grips)

The rests were again around 5 minutes between about 7 sets. With the rope climbing the emphasis was on one or two quality moves with locking-off action and a smooth transition between arms.

Improbable Science

I came across this pretty comprehensive article on the Improbable Science blog. It is well worth reading. It covers some themes that anyone who does the rounds of the main paleo-blogs (such as Mike Eades' Protein Power), will be aware of including some stuff from Gary Taubes.

DC who writes the blog is a great communicator and obviously a smart guy. However there is one comment in the post where (I think), he 'stumbles' slightly.

He picks up on Sacks' paper (Sacks et al., 2009), which compared several different diets.
  • The percentages of energy derived from fat, protein, and carbohydrates in the four diets were 20, 15, and 65%; 20, 25, and 55%; 40, 15, and 45%; and 40, 25, and 35%. No difference could be detected between the different diets: all that mattered for weight loss was the total number of calories.
The conclusion here is correct, but ignores a true low carbohydrate, paleo diet. Anyone reading this might think that the matter of 'which diet' had been settled by Sacks, when in reality the paleo diet was not even in the race.