Friday, 31 December 2010

Boston's Eleven

I stumbled across Boston Globe today and, in keeping with every other paper this time of year, it had a list of resolutions.  Number one was to do with dieting; Don't Diet:
  •  Unless you want to doom yourself to feeling frustrated and deprived, that is. Dr. David Ludwig, who directs the Optimal Weight for Living Program at Children’s Hospital Boston, says diets backfire when people put a lot of energy into unsustainable ways of eating — cutting way back on a whole food group, for example. It’s better to follow the advice even the 5-year-olds in his clinic can grasp: Eat real foods, not fake foods. Stay away from food that is made in a factory, comes in a package, and has unpronounceable ingredients. Stick with food our Stone Age ancestors would recognize
 The other ten are worth reading, and all pretty much touch upon paleo ideas (nothing about sleep though, which I feel is an undervalued tenet of 'paleo'). 

I think that as these paleo ideas are aired, the climate will arise where a graceful exit can be made by various institutions from their fat phobic and calorie obsessed position.  We are definitely seeing a broader acceptance of paleo's contrary ideas to the current status quo.

A further link addressed why Why a Calorie is Not Just a Calorie, slap-bang in the middle of which is this rather illuminating paragraph:
  • ...numerous studies have been done on more effective ways to lose weight that focus on the regulation of hunger - a dieter's greatest obstacle - which can vary dramatically by the type of fat or carb in a food, the water and fiber content of what we eat, and possibly the timing and spacing of meals throughout the day. What triggers hunger signals to the brain is a lot more complex than the calorie counts in the foods we eat.

(My emphasis).  There is a lot to take in with that statement.  It touches not only upon hormonal issues beyond calories, but also hints at IF.  Amen to that!  Sadly the rest of the article recycles busted concepts about fat.  Ah well.



Thursday, 23 December 2010

Agent Provocateur

The Primal Blueprint Cookbook has just been nominated as one of the five worst (unhealthy) cook books of 2010 by the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine.  I don't know much about the PCRM but they had the sitting duck of 'Primal Fuel' and somehow ended up not only missing it, but also of shooting themselves in the foot:
  • The Primal Blueprint sets back evidence-based nutrition nearly 2 million years with its meat-heavy diet. Along with artery-clogging “Paleo” recipes for Primal Pot Roast and Sausage Stew, this book includes an entire section of cholesterol-laden recipes for offal—entrails and internal organs. The authors say recipes like these are ideal for followers of Atkins and other low-carb diets. But a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that a low-carbohydrate diet based on animal food sources increases mortality risk from all causes, including cancer and heart disease.
Do you think they even know how rich breastmilk is in cholesterol?  Do you think they ever thought how Man survived through several ice ages without eating LOTS of meat (including organ meat/offal), and little in the way of plant?  Will reducing dietary cholesterol REALLY reduce cholesterol levels in the body?

It is kind of embarrassing for the PCRM to be lining themselves up so thoroughly against evolutionary biology.  Once this branch of biology extends in to medicine (and it WILL), it is going to be great fun watching the PCRM squirming on the hook.  You cannot argue against evolutionary adaption - unless you are really, really stupid and/or really, really arrogant.

Needless to say I will be purchasing one of Mark's books in the new year by way of support.  By all accounts his Primal Blueprint is a definitive and essential paleo text.  Anyone new to 'paleo' should spend time on his comprehensive site.

Sign O' the (LA) Times

'Paleo' is losing its 'fad diet' tag.  I have reservations about the word 'diet' being used in conjunction with the 'paleo framework' because it suggests some kind of 'temporary artificial manipulation' of nutritional intake to lose weight.  And, as paleo eating does not fixate on calorie restriction, this rubs hard against the wider wisdom that we need to 'eat less and do more!'

But there is a change coming.  There is wider recognition that grains and sugar are a serious problem in obesity.  From the LA Times:
  • Most people can count calories. Many have a clue about where fat lurks in their diets. However, fewer give carbohydrates much thought, or know why they should.

    But a growing number of top nutritional scientists blame excessive carbohydrates — not fat — for America's ills. They say cutting carbohydrates is the key to reversing obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and hypertension.
There is little understanding of the underlying hormonal and metabolic factors at play - there is still the fixation of calories in vs calories out, but at least word is spreading.  Think Cluedo; the is an awareness 'the crime' was in the library with the lead-piping. Give them time and they'll work out that it was Professor Plum!

Such stories are an important step in moving the paleo philosophy above 'diet' and so 'fad'.  As other stream of learning such as Evolutionary Biology develop, and new streams of learning arise (such as Evolutionary Medicine), the paleo framework can only become more robust.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Spot Workout (RPT)

Another quick workout.  There are so many disruptions this time of year that I just grab a window of opportunity to LSHS (lift some heavy shit).

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (20 mins)
1. Deadlifts (3x140kg, 4x125kg) - RPT
2. One Arm Chins (6 x BW-50kg, 6 x BW-45kg, 40 x BW-50kg)
3. DB Press (12x10kg, 7x12kg, 3x16kg, 2x18kg neg) Heirarchical

No sign of any problem from my elbow after the OACs.  Go a bit of hip tightness from the DLs but nothing major.  The only mildly annoying bit is the lack of 'heavyness' with the DBP - although I was doing hierarchical sets which tend to hurt! 

Weight is about 84kg.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Spot Workout (Heirarchical Sets)

This routine was made up on the fly.  The set and rep scheme was based on ADV's Hierarchical Sets idea with minimal rest (only to change weight):

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (20 mins)
1. Pistols 12x(60kg assist), 7x(40kg assist), 3x(20kg assist)
2. Chins 12xBW, 8xBW+20kg, 3xBW+25kg
3. DB Press 12x14kg, 8x16kg, 3x18kg

Legs are now jelly! 
I should just mention some improvement in planching and levers having maintained a grease-the-groove protcol over the past few weeks.  Nothing major - just very little, of a high intensity, last thing at night.
I have a dose of Man-Flu at the moment that has persisted for the last week.  It peaked over the weekend with bodily aches and cycles of being too hot and too cold.
I have eaten only three times in the last five days but am definitely over the worst of it.  I am trying to roll with it all.  I follow my appetite and embrace the rest from exercise.  One of the reasons I worked out today is because I really wanted to - a sure sign of recovery.
Next year I will embark on a more organised phase of training.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Monday, 13 December 2010


Dont forget the total lunar eclipse next week, or the partial solar eclipse soon after!  In the meantime, head out tonight:
  • "The Geminids are a meteor shower caused by the object 3200 Phaethon,[1] which is thought to be a Palladian asteroid.[2] This would make the Geminids the only meteor shower not originating from a passing comet. The meteors from this shower are slow moving, can be seen in December and usually peak around the 13th - 14th of the month, with the date of highest intensity being the morning of the 14th. The shower is thought to be intensifying every year and recent showers have seen 120–160 meteors per hour under optimal conditions, generally around 2am to 3am GMT. Geminids were first observed only 150 years ago, much more recently than other showers such as the Perseids and Leonids (Wikipedia)"

Friday, 10 December 2010

Should animals have the same rights as humans?

Skip to the Immortality Phase

"The key is not to slow the rate of aging, but go directly to the immortal phase at a lower rate of mortality, which is exactly what the fruit flies do....

How do you make the transition to the immortality phase earlier and stop aging sooner? Adhere to a regimen of “what is natural for humans, what is our best environment.”

That excludes an industrial lifestyle and a Western-style diet that involves sitting several hours in front of a TV or computer and munching on Twinkies, he explained. Instead, adopt an ancestral hunter-gatherer lifestyle and diet (the paleolithic, or “paleo” diet).

A paleo diet is a regimen that includes only foods available before the agricultural revolution of the Neolithic, which includes lean meats, shore-based foods, fruits and vegetables. Foods that became available after the Neolithic such as grains, dairy, and processed foods are all avoided."

Read more here!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Spot Workout (Wendler)

The continuing cold spell has meant a lot more walking and snow shovelling.  The formal routine has fallen by the wayside, but I have embraced the new workouts the weather has brought.

Today though, it is back in to the gym for a little bit of gentle iron to ensure I keep my gains.  This is just a 'spot workout' - nothing too demanding (I may well push the levels a bit).  The idea is based upon a Wendler template.  I have not really thought about rests - think I will suck it and see.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)
1. Deadlift 5x91/100, 5x105/120, 5+x119/130
2. Wall Walk : BackBridge 2, 2, 2
3. Planche Press Ups 6, 5, 4
4. Ice Cream Makers 6, 5, 4
5. Four-Way Rotator Cuff 10, 10, 10

Friday, 3 December 2010

'Fight or Flight' and 'Fast or Feast'

I have just finished Malcolm Kendrick's "The Great Cholesterol Con".  I have reached the point where anything I read that tackles the cholesterol/lipid hypothesis strikes me as being akin to shooting fish in a barrel.  There appear to be so many inconsistencies in the established thinking that when you come to it from a non-medical background, wood and trees become distinguishable.  But Kendrick turns over fresh stones, exposing a variety of evidence that builds to a credible case against the current obsession with cholesterol and saturated fat.

What prompts this post is something that Kendrick wrote about the Parasympathetic and Sympathetic nervous systems - two systems that are antagonistic to one another.

The Sympathetic NS gears you up for flight or fight.  Your heart rate increases, blood flow is redirected to muscles, the liver releases glucose pushing up blood-sugar levels and various blood clotting factors are released in to the blood stream.  This is a 'catabolic' state and is just what you need when faced with either conflict, or significant exertion (such as exercise).

The Parasympathetic NS offers opposing actions, slowing your heart, stimulating insulin and the release of bile, and redirecting blood to the gut to aid digestion.  An 'anabolic' state that is perfect when you are ready, as Kendrick notes, 'to eat, digest and store energy'.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Passing of a Paleo Pioneer

Wolfgang Lutz' obituary from The Guardian:
  • Wolfgang Lutz, who has died aged 97, was a doctor who investigated the links between nutrition and health. Concerned over the dramatic escalation in what he termed the "diseases of civilisation", he developed the idea that humans are insufficiently adapted to the comparatively recent high-carbohydrate foods of the Neolithic age. He suggested that a diet similar in composition to that of the Ice Age hunter-gatherer might be more suitable to our genome. He recommended a "modern Paleolithic diet", unrestricted as to protein and fat, yet low enough in carbohydrate to be compatible with our genetic inheritance.

    Wolfgang further surmised that the pattern of our hormonal secretion must be tuned to the largely animal diet of that distant epoch. He demonstrated clinically how today's comparative overload of carbohydrate requires compensatory adjustments in our hormonal secretions – primarily in insulin, but also in thyroid, adrenal, growth and sex hormone levels. Wolfgang was the first to describe how these often prolonged disturbances in hormonal regulation could underlie many of our modern diseases.
World War II put nutrition back a long way.

How Long Did They Trial This For?

You may want to ask this question of any drug you are prescribed.  I am not talking about your common or garden drugs - but lets just say stuff like antidepressants and statins.

In reading about these two drug classes, most of the trials that I have seen referred to seem to be trialed for a very limited period - downwards of five years.  This is fine unless you are going to be taking these drugs for longer than five years - where suddenly you become a 'pioneer test subject'. 

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

"Breakfast of Chumps"

All credit to Robert Choate.  His efforts to expose the 'empty calories' of breakfast cereals precede 'paleo' by several decades as this extract from Time illustrates:
  • Choate showed a chart ranking cereals according to the quantities of nine different vitamins, minerals and protein they contain. In a scale of 900, only three products rated as high as 700. The three: Kellogg's Product 19 and General Mills' Kaboom and Total. Two-thirds of the cereals ranked below 100. Among them were the five bestsellers: Kellogg's Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies and Sugar Frosted Flakes, and General Mills' Cheerios and Wheaties ("Breakfast of Champions"). Nabisco's Shredded Wheat ranked last.
His message is still appropriate now and has much wider application, identifying foods that 'fatten but do little to prevent malnutrition'.  Choate's actions led to this article in Time titled "Breakfast of Chumps?" dated August 3rd 1970!

Monday, 29 November 2010


When Richard Feinman argued against the notion that 'a calorie is a calorie' he did so by defining this phrase thusly:
  • The most common meaning is that is it impossible for two isocaloric diets to lead to different weight loss. (Feinman 2004)
Having argued that energy-yield is path-dependent and that protein and carbohydrate for example, are not energetically equivalent fuels (think gluconeogenesis), he went on to further observe that 'in weight loss diets...inefficiency is desirable and is tied to hormonal levels and enzyme activities'.  Finally he addressed the topic of 'efficiency and thermogenesis' (that is to say the thermic overhead of eating/digestion) for lipids, carbohydrates and protein.  All very formal and all very 'physics'.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Wk1 W/O1 (Long Rests)

The UK has been gripped by a cold spell.  Snow lies over most of the country and last night temperatures fell to -5 to -18 in places.  It is COLD!  And still only November.  Such temperatures should not get in the way of a 'neolithic pseudo hunt'

This is a deloaded phase.  Can't push it too hard.  A bit of me is still not sure whether to push volume or strength - probably the former with longer rests.  The rests are established by pairing exercises.. 

I am toying with the idea of going barefoot on the kill carry - depending on the ice outside.  The real risk here is the 321 finger workout.  Got to make sure I am warmed up properly.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)
1. Stairgators (1)
2a. V-Foot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
2b. Basic MU Ring Routine to Lever (1x20s, 1x20s, 1x20s)
3a. Scissor Splits/Cuts (3, 3, 3)
3b. 321 (4 fng, Frnt 3, Back 3)
4. V-Foot Kill Carry

Foods that Make Billions: Cereal

A heads-up for this weeks episode of 'Food that Makes Billions' on Tuesday, 21:00 on BBC Two (England, Northern Ireland, Wales only):
  • What all cereals have got in common is they started as grain - a cheap and characterless commodity. The grain is processed before advertising loads it with meaning. The result is sold for a big profit. Understand this process and you understand the modern food business.

    Ninety four per cent of us have a box of cereal in our kitchen cupboards. But a century ago nobody did. How did this emblematic industry colonise our kitchen cupboards so comprehensively?

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Routine Change

I have stepped up my Lau Gar training and it is having an impact on my other training.  What I need to do is to cut gym time.  I stayed out the gym this week and the recovery advantage was not lost on me.  Some of my forms require pistol-like moves from the ground, and with fresh legs it fells easy and dynamic.  If not fully fresh these moves are laboured.

I think I am going to hit two 'formal' workouts a week, A and B.  But I will have to flavours of workout A and two of workout B.  This means for example, I will only deadlift once every two weeks.

Friday, 26 November 2010

The Magic of Kendrick

As with the magic of Taubes, Dr Malcolm Kendrick also pens quite a 'show-stopping' passage when he wants to:
  • "I sometimes remark to those who think my ideas on heart disease are entirely batty, 'Why do you think that an egg yolk is full of cholesterol?'  Answer: because it takes one hell of a lot of cholesterol to build a healthy chicken.  It also takes a hell of a lot of cholesterol to build, and maintain, a healthy human being.  In fact, cholesterol is so important that all cells, apart from nerones, can manufacture cholesterol, and one of the key functions of the liver is to synthesize cholesterol.  We also have an entire transportation system dedicated to moving cholesterol around the body."
From 'The Great Cholesterol Con'.

Five in Five

UK Schools are looking to develop coordination, strength and agility in their students using a program called 'Five in Five'.  The 'Five in Five' routines involve squatting, lunging, pushing, bracing and rotating.  The driver behind this is as follows:
  • "Experts say many children do not get a proper workout which helps them develop coordination, strength and agility...Specialists in sports and exercise medicine say that too often PE lessons focus on developing sports skills rather than encouraging flexibility and movement."

This latter point is something I touched upon here, where I expressed doubts about developing strength without not only skill, but general information-rich kinaesthetic awareness.

This article goes on,
  • "You can get stronger, you can get more stable, you can have a much better posture, by exposing yourself to five minutes a day".
Chris touched on posture in a post earlier this week.  There are lots of bases to cover in this quest for health.

Monday, 22 November 2010

We Want Information

Two great extracts from some of the leading thinkers in the fitness field that express some of my reservations about slow training protocols on machines.

Slow protocols may well have their place but I feel they lack 'information'.  Sure loading a muscle is what we want, but loading it under duress, in battle/a hunt would, I imagine, carry a whole different set of information than would muscle loading in the orderly world of Nautilus.

I appreciate the need not to confuse strength and skill, but it seems to me that in the wild and in adolescence they are largely developed in conjunction.  Should we preferentially aim to fire 'synergies'?

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The Limits

Amongst us paleo(tards), there is suspicion of any news from the medical world heralding 'gene X', vitamin 'Y' and health-marker 'Z' - 'magic numbers' are inappropriate use of reductionist thinking.  Focusing on abstract details and treating numbers does necessarily lead to a positive outcome in a complex system.  You can control a few inputs but much of the outcome is downstream/internal of our immediate control.  This is stated in DeVany's Third law:
  • Homeostasis of one variable does not assure homeostasis along other dimensions. You can read "normal" for many variables and still be exhausting the compensatory mechanisms over time.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find those broader 'drivers' that trigger healthful expression.  As DeVany's Fifth Law states:
  • We should recognize the limits of knowledge and just get on the path that favours better outcomes.

I am not a man. I am Cantona!

Not content with tackling the seagulls, Cantona is now urging us to focus on the trawlermen!  Vive la revolution!

Thursday, 18 November 2010


Is addiction to blame for our high-fat diets? Yes of course it is, because everyone knows that fat is addictive.  Look at fat folk gorging on butter and lard.  Not a grain of sugar in sight.  Baise moi.

Sugar addiction makes it on to Wiki:
  • There has been reference to the idea of sugar addiction in the popular literature for a number of years. In 1998, Kathleen DesMaisons[2] outlined the concept of sugar addiction as a measurable physiological state caused by activation of mu opioid receptors in the brain. Her work extracted data from studies done by Blass[3] showing that sugar acted as an analgesic drug whose effects could be blocked by a morphine blocker. Acting on years of anecdotal evidence from her work in the field of addiction, DesMaisons noted that dependence on sugar followed the same track outlined in the DSM IV for other drugs of abuse.
I couldn't find an entry for fat-addiction, but googling that term brought up this story - "Food addiction: Fat may rewire brain like hard drugs"
  • Over eating may be driven by a same neurobiological mechanism in the brain as drug addition, says a new study from the US that adds clout to the theory ‘food addiction’.
    Data from a study with laboratory rats indicated that the development of obesity was accompanied by a break-down in brain chemistry linked to pleasure responses. According to findings published in Nature Neuroscience, the very same changes occur when rats over-consume heroin or cocaine.
    "These findings confirm what we and many others have suspected that overconsumption of highly pleasurable food triggers addiction-like neuroadaptive responses in brain reward circuitries, driving the development of compulsive eating," said lead researcher Dr Paul Kenny, from The Scripps Research Institutein Florida.
    "Common mechanisms may therefore underlie obesity and drug addiction,” he added.
    The data appears to refocus attention on the formulation of foods, and the Western diet in particular – the researchers fed the rats easy-to-obtain high-calorie, high-fat foods like sausage, bacon, and cheesecake.
Ah yes, high fat cheesecake.  Full of sugar. The article describes the junk food used in the diet as ‘cafeteria-style’.  Go to a any cafeteria and I guarantee that you'll see pastries and cookies, sugared snacks, breads, cakes and muffins.  Why single out 'fat'?  The full paper is available as a free PDF but I can't be arsed to register to read it. 

All I know is that whilst I can stuff myself with paleo food and effortlessly follow my hunger and maintain 'abs', come Christmas I will be belt-feeding Quality Street.  As an addict myself I can tell you EXACTLY where the hit comes from.

Taxing Fat

One problem with obesity is the word "fat".  Obese people are fat, and somehow this language clumsily slips over in to the notion that eating fat is what makes us fat.  This is perfectly exemplified in the Panorama program Tax On Fat where a suggestion was made to tax food high in sugar, salt and fat. 

But look at the still above?  What do you notice?  Any 'fat' food?  Look in the trollies of the obese and you will see sugary foods like those in the still above - but will you see lamb?  Lard?  Steak?  No.  None of these.

Real food is not represented in the image above and yet somehow some real foods are tarnished with the 'junk food' label even though they are unlikely to lead to fattening.

As for 'health food being expensive' - offal (the original health food), is cheap!

Baise moi.

Red, Light and Blue

Red light at night,
Sleeper's delight,
Blue in the morning,
Stops you yawning!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

More Awesomeness...

...from Danny MacAskill.

Volume Wk7 W/O2 (Short Rests)

Work is keeping me heavily occupied.  I had meant to grease the groove with planching and levers in the evening, but some long hours at the keyboard have taken their toll and as the evenings draw in, I just want to head to bed!

On the upside, working longer hours makes me focus on quality time with the kids.  They are in good form and we have had some great episodes of play. 

On Saturday we built bunk-beds which was great fun.  Flash has limited attention on anything so would walk off with wood/screws/tools and Captain Kid and I would be wondering why there were bits missing.  Captain Kid loved the responsibility of sorting out bits, reading the instructions and tightening the allen bolts.  Afterwards we headed to the woods - stalking dog walkers/ramblers, using binoculars, walkie-talkies and learning some 'patrol hand signals'.  (England's win over Australia in the rugby was the icing on the cake last Saturday)

Currently I am feeling quite psyched to lift - and want to push the weight on the DL today.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25 mins)
1. Deadlift (3x145kg, 3x135kg)
2. Wall Walk/Back Bridge (15s, 15s, 15s)
3. Planche Variations (60s total)
4. Four-Way Rotator Cuff Work (1x15 each way)

Monday, 15 November 2010

Smell the Glove

Fatter people may eat more because they smell food more intensely trumpets The Telegraph:

  • Researchers have discovered that the heavier that someone is the more sensitive they are to the smell of food. They believe that this might make the food more appetising to them and so encourage them to eat more. Dr Lorenzo Stafford, of the University of Portsmouth's Department of Psychology, said that there was a definite correlation but as yet he did not know why.
So there you go - being fat makes you more sensitive to smell!  However if you don't buy in to the idea that the obese are fat because they eat more, but that they eat more because they are fat, then unlike Dr Lorenzo Stafford, you can answer why (and probably get the right answer).

Tax the Fat

A quick heads up for an episode of the BBC's Panorama program tonight at 2030hrs called "Tax the Fat":
  • Britain is the fattest nation in Europe, and it's slowly killing us. So is it time to tax the fat? Would putting up the price of junk food, high in sugar and fat, cut obesity rates in the same way as a tax on cigarettes has helped reduce smoking? Panorama travels to Denmark - the first country in the world to implement such a tax - to see how it's working there, and to the

    US, where a proposal to tax sugary drinks like Coca Cola has met with fierce opposition.
    Could a fat tax here help the NHS to afford the ever-rising cost of treating obesity-related illnesses like diabetes and heart disease? Reporter Shelley Jofre puts the idea to the Health Secretary, and to families who would have to pay more for junk food.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Volume Wk7 W/O1 (Short Rests)

A primal winter warmer!  Not done this routine for a fortnight so am anticipating more gas in the tank tonight!

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
3. Basic MU Ring Routine to Lever (1x20s, 1x20s, 1x20s)
4. Scissor Splits/Cuts (3, 3, 3)
5. Barefoot Weighted Kill Carry (1 + Weight Vest)

A History of Play

Something that I had wanted to blog about a week or two ago - children and play.  I put up a post yesterday that contained the following:
  • Computer-obsessed children who spend too long indoors and over-anxious parents who slap on excessive sunscreen are contributing to a sharp rise in cases of the bone disease rickets, doctors are warning.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Grub's Up: 'DON'T PANIC'!

We stray too far from our evolutionary past at our peril.  I will bang this drum again and again; once you 'get' the paleo idea, once you understand its evolutionary drivers, you are quite well placed to go off and implement it for yourself without too much of a problem.  Without gurus.   Hell, without science.
I don't approve of going against science, but science has been heavily battered and bruised by poor quality research - particularly in the field of nutrition.  This is why we in the West with all our scientists and doctors, nutritionists, medical researchers, education and wealth can suffer a deterioration in personal health that would be alien to an Eskimo living an indigenous existence.  Armed with our conventional wisdom we would, of course, march up to said Eskimo and tell him to 'cut back on the saturated fat and red meat'.

Despite some misgivings, a degree of paleo re-enactment gets us precisely the results we desire.  A good example of modern science really screwing up our health is with rickets. 

Friday, 12 November 2010

Volume Wk6 W/O2 (Short Rests)

My 'tweaked' elbow is feeling much better - but I am going to continue to shy away from OAC work for a while longer.  Better to embrace the variation offered by weighted chins.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (20 mins)
1. Pistols/Pillar Jumps/Leg Extension (12/10x45kg P, 12x30kg LE)
2. HSPU/Press/Snatch (BWx2, 8x14/12kg, 6x16kg)
3. Chins (6/4xBW+37kg, 8xBW+20KG, 8xBW)
4. Tucked Ice Cream Maker (8/6, 6, 6)

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Sight of Meat Calms Us

A quick one that continues on from my Free the Cannibal post.  This time about how the sight of meat can calm us,

  • Results from a McGill University study, released yesterday, suggest that people -men, anyways -become less aggressive at the sight of meat.
I'd imagine we see meat, we realise the struggle for life is temporarily over - we have nutritious sustenance to survive the day.  There is also an element of coperations and kinship,
  • But the actual result of less aggression might reflect a genetic disposition to feel comfort at the sight of meat, with it being associated with gatherings of family and friends, the study's authors said.
    Speaking of how ancient ancestors might have adapted their responses to the sight of meat ready for consumption, Kachanoff said "It wouldn't be advantageous to be aggressive anymore because you would've already used your aggression to acquire the meat, and furthermore, you'd be surrounded by people who share . . . your DNA.
Anyone familiar with aggressive rantings over at 30BAD will appreciate this story....and what of vegetarians?
  • [the study had] some vegetarians in the test group, and no major differences were found in their responses.
Read more:

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Volume Wk6 W/O1 (Short Rests)

So, I have dropped the usual  Sunday workout for this week only.  Having not deadlifted last week I am expecting a bit of an improvement today in my numbers. 

I should point out that my 'tweaked' left elbow is still mildly injured - and I am not sure how much more rest I should do to heal whilst not losing strength.  I don't want to completely stop chinning or rope climbing but these are the activities that are most likely to aggravate it.  It is getting better, but I just need to moderate intensity.

Also, once again I have realised I am getting distracted from the Planche.  Lau Gar has brought new demands on my time and work commitments are hight this time of year.  The latter can affect my sleep (and so my capacity for work).   I need to put in some GTG type work to push on to the next variation....

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)
1. Deadlift (5x135kg, 6x125kg)
2. Wall Walk/Back Bridge (15s, 15s, 15s)
3. Planche Variations (60s total)
4. Four-Way Rotator Cuff Work (1x15 each way)

Friday, 5 November 2010

Volume Wk5 W/O2 (Short Rests)

This is technically W/O3 as I skipped W/O2.  I have been busy at work so didn't really look to push this workout.  I just grabbed a weight approximating what I lifted last time and went for it.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (20 mins)
1. Pistols/Pillar Jumps/Leg Extension (10x45kg P, 12x30kg LE)
2. HSPU/Press/Snatch (BWx2, 8x12kg, 6x16kg)
3. Chins (8xBW+32kg, 8xBW, 8xBW)
4. Tucked Ice Cream Maker (6, 6, 4)

I got a PB on the HSPUs and some gain on the BW chins.  Reckon I can drop reps and up the weight.  I still have a niggle on my left elbow so cannot yet go back to OACs (my preferred chinning exercise).

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Marc Chaland

As I progress in Lau Gar I have gotten to play with more advanced weapons, most recently nunchaku .  Nunchaku are synonomous with Chinese martial arts - and in the following video, Frenchman and six time world champion Marc Chaland shows what can be done with them....with a lot of practice!  Things get awesome around 0:50.  At 1:25 they get double-awesome.

bercy 2010.session-00
Uploaded by koryblade. - Discover the latest sports and extreme videos.

Free the Cannibal

I have to say that the first time I heard someone mention hunger pangs supposedly striking surgeons in an operating theatre at the site of blood/open flesh, I recoiled.  The rationale put forward at the time was that this was some kind of evolutionary reflex from our ancestral past as we scavenged for meat.

A quick google revealed one concerned individual who salivated at the sight of blood - although s/he was not a student of medicine.  Is this response a case of hematolagnia or an evolutionary ghost, unavoidably stirred up? 

Outside of medicine there seems to be a whole world of blood fetishism that was hitherto unknown to me - such as clinical vamprism (Renfield syndrome) - an obsession to drink blood!  This is obviously some kind of mental disorder, but when you think of cannibal spectrum from the criminally insane, through religious/ceremonial performances, it does seem odd that you eventually arrive in the field of medicine.  You don't believe me?
Now that is what I call paleo!  ;)

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Volume Wk5 W/O1 (Short Rests)

So the last workout (the second of the week), felt a bit shabby.  Thus I have put in a rolling rest.  How this cuts it is that I do three workouts a week.  I dropped the third (last), workout of last week.  I will drop the second workout from this weeks' series and then drop the first workout from next week.  This should let me gain in the workouts.  By week eight or nine I end my cycle so I should be dropping back anyway.

The tweaking of my training is an ongoing thing.  I don't want to be a slave to some regime and have to by flexible around the demands of Lau Gar, climbing and playing with Flash and CK.  All have a habit of taking quite a bit out of me at unexpected times.  Whilst I embrace this randomness, I have to be on top of throttling back in other areas.

Although I did no formal training last Friday I did take Captain Kid for her first visit to the local bouldering wall.  She seems to have an aptitude for climbing - once she had overcome her fear of heights, and trusted that she could fall in control on to the matting.  I managed to nip off to a quiet area and do a couple of backflips - possibly my only two this year.  Glad I still have the knack - and am not gripped by 'the fear'.....talking of which/witch.....

Friday, 29 October 2010

Big Fat Fiasco

Tom Naughton does a fine job in this series of You Tube films explaining the car crash that is modern nutritional advice (go to his blog for the full sequence of five films).  He is a great communicator and with a bit of luck this talk (and his movie Fat Head), will get wider exposure. 

Part five is particularly enlightening, giving as it does, as concise explanation of the hormonal factors underlying obesity.  Naughton riffs on the idea that conventional wisdom about the cause of obesity ("you eat too much and do too little"), could just as easily be viewed from a position of character (national character has faltered in the last 40 years, we have become less inclined to participate in active pursuits and simply cannot stop ourselves from eating).  He then provides an alternative interpretation of the obesity phenomena - that of hormones. 

Finally he makes the same staggering conclusion as Gary Taubes; that we look at thin people and immediately assume that at some level (and normally at the level of personal 'character'), they balance 'calories in' with 'calories out'.  That unlike 'fatties', thin folk have enough self discipline to limit how much they eat, and to 'burn off' an excess through exercise.  But the staggering reality would appear to be that fat people ARE balancing 'calories in' with 'calories out'.  It is just that as the body's ready-supply of available energy is compromised (through excessive insulin-driven fat storage), fat people are driven to eat more, or expend less energy.

I guess an analogy would be if for some reason you had a container that you were required to keep topped up at the 1 litre mark.  Now you'd expect to have to add a small amount each day to keep the level topped up at 1 liter as water would evaporate.  If you had another container in the room which was exactly the same, you'd expect roughly the same level of water loss.  Now imagine that this second container had a small hole in its base through which water escaped (this represents the chronic shuttling of energy in to storage).  Although water loss through evaporation is the same between the two containers, total water loss in the second, holed container would be greater.  So you'd have to add more water to it to maintain the water level.

Of course in a biological system this is way more complicated.  So it might be that if a fat guy and a thin guy are given the same calories to eat, as less of those calories are available to satisfy the metabolic needs of the fat guy, the body, sensing a limited availability of energy, induces lethargy (ie, reduces 'calories out') - which we then interpret as 'weakness of character' and laziness.  Another complication, as Naughton notes, is the ability of a biological system to cannibalise itself.  That is why a fat mouse, with massive energy reserves but with chronically elevated insulin levels can starve to death.

I am sure there are several doctors and scientists out there who will  balk at the idea of having a comedian tell them about nutrition, physiology and scientific rigour etc.... but that is why as a society we are in the mess we are in.

I say we start with a targeted program of education.  We need to ask FAT doctors and FAT nutrition scientists why they are so goddam FAT!  We need to ask them to account for why they are seemingly unable to 'eat less and do more'.  We need to ask some pressing questions about black swans, bad science and BS.  Then, once reduced to tears, we should suggest they watch this presentation.  The mix of humour, shuttling as it does an 'educational payload', may then reach its target.

Well done Tom.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Jump Around

What would you add to a list of 'Species that are good at jumping'?  Fleas can jump high.  Frogs are good at jumping and add in locust/grasshoppers and kangaroos too.  Maybe horses?  But when it comes to jumping - and being good at it, your list of 'jumping stuff' is probably going to be quite short.  Would you put homo sapien on that list?

You might not be aware of who Stefan Holm is, but you will certainly recognise what an incredible ability it is to be able to effortlessly hurdle your own height!

Somewhere in Night Time

We often think of a good night's sleep as something along the lines of eight hours of uninterrupted snoozing.  Kind of like 'lights out' when your head hits the pillow, not stirring until the next morning.  I disagree.

In an exchange with Methuselah some time ago, we ruminated on actually how 'normal' it is to be 'zonked out' for eight hours solid.  From a hunter's perspective what could be more appealing than your prey snoozing away in a deep sleep?  Hunting would become tame to say the least, and your prey's appearance on the tree of life would be likely VERY short.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Volume Wk4 W/O2 (Short Rests)

So, the Levers have been dropped.  Shorter and sharper.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)
1. Deadlift (4x135kg, 4x125kg)
2. Wall Walk/Back Bridge (15s, 15s, 15s)
3. Advanced Frog Planche (20s, 20s, 20s)
4. 4-Way Rotator Cuff Work (1x15 each way)

I didn't feel that great today so I auto-regulated.  We did a lot of low work (walking techniques in LGKF), last night, and this may have tired my legs.

Planches felt solid mind!

Monday, 25 October 2010

The Natives Are Restless!

I clicked on this link in the Independent: Number of adult diabetics soars 6% in year.  I expected the usual BS of:
  • obesity (check),
  • diabetes (check),
  • 'Timebomb', (check)
  • '5-a-day' (check)
  • unhealthy lifestyle, (check)
  • healthy diet, (check)
The same old failed policy is churned once again.....yawn.  'We can't be trying hard enough'.  People aren't listening....

The frustration in these articles is always palpable.  If doing X makes Y larger, and you think doing X makes Y smaller, it is understandable that you'd get people to do X and then be frustrated that Y gets bigger.  Welcome to nutritionism 21st century style.

But scroll down to the comments.  At least three references to Gary Taubes!  Hope is here.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Volume Wk4 W/O1 (Short Rests)

After a night of hard drinking in Manchester I really am lacking the urge to work out.  Damn those hangovers.  I propose the following, and will suck it and see.  Maybe once I have finished it I will feel better.

I have dropped the planche from this workout.  (The Lever in the second workout will also be dropped).

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25 mins)
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
3. Scissor Splits/Cuts (3, 3, 3)
4. Basic MU Ring Routine to Lever (1x20s, 1x20s, 1x20s)
5. Barefoot Weighted Kill Carry (1 + Weight Vest)

Friday, 22 October 2010

Volume Wk3 W/O3 (Short Rests)

I have decided to cut back on one planche session and one lever session a week.  I think I need a bit more recovery time - and to try harder variations of both.

The first workout of the week contains my ring routine finished with a lever.  So I will drop the planche from this workout.  The second workout features some lever work and a planche.  I will drop the levers from here.  This means the sessions will be shorter.  As such, I guess I wll have to make them a bit harder!

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (20 mins)
1. Pistols/Pillar Jumps/Leg Extension (20x25kg P, 12x30kg LE)
2. HSPU/Press/Snatch (BWx1, 8x14kg, 6x16kg)
3. Chins (8xBW+30kg, 8xBW, 8xBW)
4. Tucked Ice Cream Maker (6, 6, 6)

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Use Your (Paleo) Loaf

So how about this from CBS?  Stone Age Menu Featured Flour From Wild Grains.  Stone Age man made flour - perhaps as much as 30,000 years ago.  Now before some of the major bread manufacturers jump on the paleo bandwagon I guess we should point out to them the following:
  • As Paracelsus observed, 'Alle Ding' sind Gift, und nichts ohn' Gift; allein die Dosis macht, daß ein Ding kein Gift ist. ' - "the dose makes the poison".
  • Grains would be seasonally available.  "Paleo" does not mandate year-round fruit consumption either.
  • Cannabis seeds were apparently eaten in China around 6000 BC.  To all bread manufacturers, I will await your "Paleo Bread with Added Cannabis Seeds" with interest.
  • HG didn't eat much if any wheat.  There is no evidence it was present or even dominated the ingredients of their bread.
  • Whilst having an emergency ration of paleo flour might get you through a hungry period, this would be impractical in politically unstable times and a burden during winter (can you imagine carrying a bag of flour on a hunt?), or in times of abundance.
From the article,
  • "The team led by Anna Revedin of the Italian Institute of Prehistory and Early History in Florence found grinding stones, similar to a stone and pestle, with remains of grains at the sites.

    The three sites were all dated to about 30,000 years ago and the residues appear to originate mainly from cattails and ferns, which are rich in starch and would have provided a good source of carbohydrates and energy."
Nice of CBS to opine that far from an all meat diet, the HG diet was 'more balanced after all'.  Notwithstanding how much significance flour had on their diet, I wonder if there is any evidence as to the health of those HGs who tended to this 'diet'?  In 30,000 years from now, if it could be determined by similarly remote evidence what we ate in the West in abundance (O6, fructose and sugar), could those same investigators determine our poverty of health?

From my understanding I wonder if flour was actually used as a 'social drug' like cannabis?

Total Lunar Eclipse

Fantastic news has just come my way thanks to Captain Kid;  the next total lunar eclipse is on 21st December 2010.  Just two weeks later a partial solar eclipse should be visible over much of Europe, on January 4th 2011.  Like the amazing Transit of Venus and various comets, these celestial events are incredibly humbling - giving us just a slight glimpse at our insignificance in the mighty scheme of the universe.

With urban light pollution it is easy to lose our association with the sky, just as supermarkets helps us to lose our connection with the seasons and the very earth itself.  And just as a gym can obfuscate what our body's actual relationship is with exercise.

Mark that calendar NOW!

Volume Wk3 W/O2 (Short Rests)

It is strange that some of my routines feel like an expression of my fitness rather than an event through which I hope to obtain fitness....Today was one of those workouts.

Warm Up (5 mins)

Main (30 mins)
1. Deadlift (4x135kg, 5x125kg)
2. Wall Walk/Back Bridge (4, 15s, 15s)
3. Advanced Frog Planche (20s, 20s, 20s)
4. Tuck Lever (20s, 20s, 20s)
5. 4-Way Rotator Cuff Work (1x15 each way)

I trained with a colleague whom I have tricked encouraged to accompany me to the gym.  He is focusing on DLs and chins.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Volume Wk3 W/O1 (Short Rests)

Off the leash!  I am through with the deloaded phase and can now try to push things for the next four weeks.  The Kill Carry will involve the weight vest.  The sprints will be harder for longer (but still in the 10s time).  The MUs will more explosive and the following ring routine more composed.

The rests will still be short!

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)
1. Planche Variation (1x20s, 1x20s, 1x20s)
2. Stairgators (1)
3. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
4. Scissor Splits/Cuts (3, 3, 3)
5. Basic MU Ring Routine to Lever (1x20s, 1x20s, 1x20s)
6. Barefoot Weighted Kill Carry (1 + Weight Vest)

Friday, 15 October 2010

Volume Wk2 W/O3 (Short Rests)

Onwards and upwards with the short rests!  This is the last day deloaded.  Next week I go full throttle.  The only change planned for today is to try to head up to 20 reps on one set of pistols.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (20 mins)
1. Pistols/Pillar Jumps/Leg Extension (12/20x25kg P, 12x30kg LE)
2. HSPU/Press/Snatch (BWx1, 12/10x12kg, 8x12kg)
3. Chins (8xBW+20kg, 8xBW, 8xBW)
4. Tucked Ice Cream Maker (6, 6, 6)

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Volume Wk2 W/O2 (Short Rests)

Although still not pushing to the max, I am hitting 'bread and butter' work rates.  I will add a rep on here and there, perhaps increase the weight.....a little auto-regulation.  Short rests are higher on my list of goals than reps or weight.  Although with the DL I will rest longer than 60s...

Last night's Lau Gar was quite demanding so auto-regulation is high on my list of priorities.  I don't want to get injured in pursuit of 'the rep'.  My injured elbow is healing nicely and offers a salutory warning to me.  When it first occured I pushed through the pain.  Foolish.  The rehab has involved more measured training and careful choice of exercise in particular.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)
1. Deadlift (5x105kg, 6x95kg)
2. Wall Walk/Back Bridge (4, 15s, 15s)
3. Advanced Frog Planche (20s, 20s, 20s)
4. Tuck Lever (20s, 20s, 20s)
5. 4-Way Rotator Cuff Work (1x15 each way)

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Volume Wk2 W/O1 (Short Rests)

We spent today messing around in the Peak District following 'Plan B'.  Lots of climbing and scrambling amongst the rocks, squeezing through crevices and tunnels.  'Plan A' was to visit 20-a-day Great Grandma.

Stuck in a smoke filled room, or messing around in the wilds?  Not much of a decision is it?  (See you next week long as it isn't sunny).

I need to auto regulate again with this workout.  I did a lot of activity today and am still in a deloaded phase.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
3. Scissor Splits/Cuts (3, 3, 3)
4. Basic MU Ring Routine to Lever (1x20s, 1x20s, 1x20s)
5. Planche Variation (1x20s, 1x20s, 1x20s)
6. Barefoot Kill Carry (1)

Saturday, 9 October 2010

This Woman's Work*

I like blogging.  This blog lets me primarily mouth-off and secondly, record my training.  I post stuff up here that I find interesting.  I express my ideas - some of which are wrong, some stuff VERY wrong.  Some of it useful (to me at least).  I hope some of this stuff gives at least one or two of the readers positive ideas.  At the least, folk can see the results of my training - for better or for worse.

The More You Lift the Worse You Look

Dan John has posted an interesting article that picks up on Art DeVany's concept of the X-look (a consequence of function over form):
  • Art DeVany brought this to my attention when I first logged onto the Internet. He noted that the X look for men was a sign of health. Men, he notes, should have broad shoulders, a thin waist, powerful buttocks and thighs, and not worry about their showy arms. Women, on the other hand, would show fertility with an hourglass figure with a narrow waist "bordered" by a rounder top and bottom.
Personally seeing a big guy (all muscle), struggling to get over an eight foot wall put me off bodybuilding for life - and consolidated my focus on training for function...although for some reason (and despite Art's opinion), I wouldn't mind big guns!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Volume Wk1 W/O3 (Short Rests)

So more deloading.  Need to break myself slowly in to the increase in volume.  Rests are short (30-60s).

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25 mins)
1. Pistols/Pillar Jumps (8xBW - assisted, 10x46, 10x46)
2. HSPU/Press/Snatch (12x10kg, 10x12kg, 8x12kg)
3. Tucked Ice Cream Maker (6, 6, 6)
4. Chins (8xBW, 8xBW, 8xBW)

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Volume Wk1 W/O2 (Short Rests)

I have been hacking around so much with my spreadsheet of workouts that I have messed it up a bit.  I keep reformulating what I want to do and trying to maintain each program carries an overhead.

In these cases I just stand back and take a broad look at the workout and don't sweat the details.  So today I want to build volume.  Sunday's workout worked the 'pull up' plane, as did some of the rope work yesterday (in my climbing/finger workout).  So no need to work that plane today.

That leave as big, basic move (deadlift for today) and then some basic gymnastic moves to work the shoulder (times and variations of planches and levers will be auto regulated).  Rests between deadlifts will be 3 minutes (an be preceded by a few warm ups sets).  The rest of the sets will have 30s-60s rests.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)
1. Deadlift (5x105kg, 6x94kg)
2. Wall Walk/Back Bridge (4, 15s, 15s)
3. Advanced Frog Planche (20s, 20s, 20s)
4. Tuck Lever (20s, 20s, 20s)
5. 4-Way Rotator Cuff Work (1x15 each way)

Monday, 4 October 2010


If you have never seen any footage of people flying in wingsuits then you are in for a treat.  Jeb Corliss is in action below.  What you see just prior to the three mintue mark is pretty damn special!

Climbing Routine

Separating off the finger strength workout seems to work quite well.  The rope climb slightly antagonised my elbow injury, but nothing painful:
  • some wrist push ups (6, 6, 6).
  • rope climbing (3 x up and down 1-2 times)
  • Assisted pinch grip pull ups (5s, 5s, 5s) 
  • a 321 workout
                 - front 3 open 8x7/3,
                 - back 3 open 8x7/3,
                 - 4 finger crimped

All over in about 15 minutes.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Low Carb Thumbs Up

The paleo diet is NOT necessarily low carb, although many people find that approaching the paleo paradigm with a low carb mentality provides better control of hunger and so fat loss is achieved.

There is still widespread suspicion of any diet that encourages low consumption of carbohydrate - and the fear is amplified when one is aware that the shortfall in calories is likely to be made up by an increase in protein or - shock, horror - fat.

Volume Wk1 W/O1 (Short Rests)

I am back in the saddle after a week off.  I intend to build a bit of volume on my next phase.  Rests will be generally 30s-60s.  This first workout is intended to be short and sharp.  But not to failure - it needs to be athletic and sprightly throughout.  And all  barefoot.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)

3. Scissor Splits/Cuts (3, 3, 3)
4. Basic MU Ring Routine to Lever (1x20s, 1x20s, 1x20s)
5. Planche Variation (1x20s, 1x20s, 1x20s)
6. Barefoot Kill Carry (1)

Monday, 27 September 2010

The Devil's Trick

Hat tip to Spark of Reason for this article from The Huffington Post:

People in America like to think that they eat with freedom. Ultimately, however, they can only pick what is presented to them, and what they can afford. Then, the decision is based on what they believe to be healthy, tasty and safe. With that in mind, can you imagine how great it would be for the industries mentioned above, if dietary advice given could be contained and restricted to just one organization that they could pour money into? That scenario is not just some North Koreanesque wet dream. It is USA 2010.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Strength Wk3 W/O3

A 3-hour walk this evening means no leg work today.  My (mildly) injured left elbow also demands a 'suck it and see' approach for this workout.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (35 mins)
1. Weighted Two-Arm Chins (5x20kg, 2x 40kg, 1x53kg, 1x53kg, 1x53kg, 1x53kg, 10x0kg/BW)
2. DB Press/HSPU (6x10kg, 4x12kg, 2x14kg, 1xBW*, 1xBW, 1xBW*, 1xBW*)
3. RLL (6, 6, 6)
4. Planche Press Ups (6, 5/6, 4/6)

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Good Fat, Bad Fat

I had high expectations of this episode of Case Notes, given its Taubes-esque title:
  • Dr Mark Porter investigates how the good and bad fats we eat can impact on our health, including trans fats that are found in many take away foods and are associated with heart disease. And he discovers that the health benefits of eating Omega fats depend on which you eat and when you eat them - too much Omega-6 for example, can hinder the benefits of Omega-3. Case Notes unpicks health messages about fat consumption that are confusing and contradictory.
There are a few nuggets tucked away in the program but sadly the moderately sat-fat phobic opening limited my expectation.   I say 'moderate' because the news that sat-fat is nothing to be scared of has obviously permeated Radio 4, but they are not ready to do away with the old mantra just yet, as Dr Alex Richardson illustrates,
  • Really for most of the post-war period we were told that all fats are bad. The real issue is not the quantity of fat in our diets, it's the quality - it's the type of fat that actually matters. Dietary fats are divided into two main types - saturated fats, these are the ones which you'll find in meat fat, butter, lard, mainly from animal sources but also some tropical fats like coconut and palm. But these fats - they're not unhealthy in themselves but they are unhealthy in excess. So cutting down on the amount of fats that you get from meat and butter and cream and cheese and so on is probably a good idea for most of us in the Western world. Then you've got the unsaturated fats. Now these you can actually tell the unsaturation by asking yourself the question: How liquid is this at room temperature? Saturated fats, like butter or lard or meat fat, are largely solid at room temperature, the unsaturates are liquid oils.
The program also gives a heads up on the ratio of O3 to O6 (the latter prevalent in soy and cereals).  There is some discussion of O6 and inflammation.  There is also a good deal of focus on cutting back on O6 (avoiding processed foods and grain oils).  Dr Alex Richards even mentions HG!
  • In the diet on which we evolved, the hunter gatherer type diet, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in the human diet was some people say one to one, in equal parts but certainly no more than about four to one in favour of omega-6. What we have now, we have an omega-6 to 3 ratio which at the national level in the UK is at least 10 to one and for many people's diets 20 to one or a 100 to one in favour of omega-6. This is not good. If there is one statistic or one piece of information that everybody would benefit from knowing it is their own omega-6 to 3 ratio in their own body tissues. The reason this omega-6/3 ratio matters so much is that they compete for the same enzymes in the body. So certain enzymes will use either an omega-6 fat or an omega-3 fat, they're blind to which it is, and they will turn it into a substance that will influence your immune system, your blood flow, your hormones. If it's an omega-6 fat the derivatives - the substances we make from our fats - will tend to be pro-inflammatory and pro-thrombotic - they will block and restrict blood flow and make the blood stickier and more likely to clot. If they're omega-3 fats the very same enzyme will produce substances that are broadly anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic
Change is definitely in the air, but we will have to wait a bit longer to witness the change we want to see.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Strength Wk3 W/O2

Ok - so the golfer's elbow might be no more of a strain of the muscles affected by GE!  But there is still discomfort - again I have to watch things on the chinning!  Arguably heavy DLs are going to be a challenge on this injury.

Fast DB Presses are in, in place of MBTs.  The focus is on speed, not the weight.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)
1. Deadlift (5x55, 5/3x95, 1x135, 1x140, 1x145, 1x150)
2. DB Press (Handwalking, 6@10kg, 5@12kg, 4@14kg)
3. ICMs (6, 6, 6, 6)
4. Wall Walk : BackBridge (2 reps, 15s, 15s)

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Strength Wk3 W/O1

I did some hard traversing on some limestone crags near where I work on Friday night. The fingers are lacking endurance but the arms and upper body in general felt good.

I have a little soreness on the inside of my left elbow from OACs.  It is Golfer's Elbow - which, with rest, should pass.  I need to moderate the intensity a bit....will suck it and see, and adapt as required.  Some deep massage will also be required.

Tonight's session will be as follows:

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25 mins)
1. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
2. Stairgators (1)
3. Planche Variation (1x20s, 1x20s, 1x20s)
4. Scissor Splits/Cuts (3, 3, 3)
5. Basic MU Ring Routine to Lever (1x3-20s, 1x3-20s, 1x3-20s)
6. Barefoot Kill Carry (1)

Friday, 17 September 2010

Stairway To Heaven (Tower Climbing)

Follow this link and (if it has not been taken down), prepare for a scary few minutes of viewing!

Strength Wk2 W/O3

Today's routine:

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (40 mins)
1. Pillar Jump (6, 6*, 6)
2. (Assisted) One Arm Chins (4x55, 2x60, 1x70, 1x70, 1x70, 1x70, 1x70, 10-Two Arm Chins)
3. 4-Way Rotator-Cuff Rehab
4. Squat (6x20kg, 4x40kg, 2x80kg)
5. DB Press/HSPU (6x10kg, 4x12kg, 2x14kg, 1xBW, 1xBW, 1xBW*, 1xBW, 1xBW*)
6a. RLL (6, 6, 6)
6b. Planche Press Ups (6, 6, 6)


Rests were kept to less than a minute.  This started off well but turned in to a dog of a session.  I shouldn't have gone with the squats, and the impromptu rotator cuff stuff should have come at the end.  I took a tumble on the last rep of the second set of pillar jumps (on the high pillar).  Ouch.  Need to jump with conviction each and every time!

This unnecessary addition of squats meant by workout was at least 5 minutes longer than I wanted and so I lost momentum.  Same for the rotator cuff stuff - really it should have come at the end.

Glad to see the return of the HSPU.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Strength Wk2 W/O2

Another strength session.  Aim is to ramp things up a bit on the DL.  An extra set and some extra cookies (small weights).  The speed work must be explosive with a goal of around 5-8 reps.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)
1. Deadlift (5x55, 3x95, 1x135, 1x135, 1x140, 1x145, 1x145)
2. 5kg Vertical Medicine Ball Throws (6, 6, 6, 6)
3. Fast Chins - Alt Regular grip and Hammer Grip (6, 5, 6, 4)
4. Wall Walk : BackBridge (2 reps, 15s, 15s)

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Strength Wk2 W/O1

I am doing two 'Finger Strength' workouts a week.  These comprise of:
  • some wrist push ups.
  • rope climbing,
  • pinch grip pull ups (assisted) and then either:
  • a 321 workout  (front 3, back 3 - both with open and crimped) or 8a Hangboarding.
Reckon I might invest in a Lapis Rollybar.  I used one the other day and they are fun.  Pinching roof beams will have to do until then.

I have picked up a slight soreness on the inside of my left elbow, so need to adjust intensity and volume accordingly.  Last week should have been less instinctive and more of the prescribed light session I had intended!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Ming Nails the Problem with Modern Nutrition and Fitness

"Are your men on the right pills...? Maybe you should execute their trainer!"

Profound words from Ming (1'05").

Friday, 10 September 2010

Ze Game

Alongside Shut the Box, Perudo and the Rubiks Cube, this is one of the most addictive and innovative games I have played:

Strength Wk1 W/O3

Today's routine:

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (40 mins)
1. RLL (6, 6, 6)
2. DB Press/HSPU (6x14kg, 4x18kg, 2x20kg, 1xBW, 1xBW, 1xBW, 1xBW, 1xBW)
3. Pillar Jump (6, 6, 6)
4a. (Assisted) One Arm Chins (4x55, 2x60, 1x70, 1x70, 1x70, 1x70, 1x70)
4b. Squat (6x20kg, 4x40kg, 2x60kg)
4c. Planche Press Ups (6, 6, 6)

DeVany's Laws

Over time I have collected more than a few ideas from Arthur DeVany.  Today, his blog carried another excellent addition to my list (the one about homeostasis). 

Here are my top five DeVany words of wit and wisdom:

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Strength Wk1 W/O2

Having hit a stubborn fat plateau, I am training on Sunday, Tuesday and Friday (as opposed to Monday, Wednesday and Friday).  This means that my Lau Gar sessions on Monday and Wednesday now fall on a 'non strength training day'.  This rejigging means that I no longer fast for 24hrs before sparring - so I expect to get hit a bit more!  Fasts will fall to a standard 16 hours.

Finger strength will be a focus on Fridays (using a 321 model), and Monday (using a deadhanging sequence).   Both sessions will involve some rope climbing and some wrist push ups.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)
1. Deadlift (5x55, 3x95, 3x95, 1x135, 1x135, 1x135)
2. ICMs (4, 4, 4)
3. Fast DB Press (6x12, 6x12, 6x12)
4. Wall Walk : BackBridge : HyperX

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Fat; A (Sophisticated) Battery

More 'revelations' that fat is not simply a dormant storage mechanism for 'excess calories' and is in fact, part of a vastly more complex system. 

In 'New Evidence That Fat Cells Are Not Just Dormant Storage Depots for Calories' it is noted that fat "is an active organ that sends chemical signals to other parts of the body".  The article reports on 20 different hormones and other chemical that are used to manage the sub-system as a whole.  Some of us have come across the basics -  leptin (controlling appetite) adiponectin, but the article goes on to mention that,
  • "...scientists identified 80 different proteins produced by the fat cells. These include six new proteins and 20 proteins that have not been previously detected in human fat cells. The findings could pave the way for a better understanding of the role that hormone-secreting fat cells play in heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases."

Gettin' Medieval on Yo' Ass

The paleo approach is simple.  If you look back far enough in history, you can see how we were forged in the fires of evolution.  You could go back to the 1970's for nutritional direction , and your diet would probably be better than what is available now.  You could dip a bit further back - to what your great grand-parents ate and things would be better again.

What about going further back?  You might think that an Egyptian diet would be agreeable but evidence of tooth decay and arthritis in their skeletal remains suggest otherwise.  The Roman diet favoured by gladiators led to obesity and should similarly be avoided (obesity being a visible marker of a whole host of nasties).  A growing body of evidence suggests that an optimal diet requires that you go back at least 10,000 to leverage the pre-agricultural advantage...

Strength Wk1 W/O1

I have had three weeks off training apart from some random planching, chinning etc... nothing too formal.  The recreation continued last night with a gig (Muse) and now I really ought to get back with some intense workouts.  Last weeks intended 'come-back' workout never happened!

With my recent HSPU success I want to build on my strength gains and am trying to focus on my OAC somewhat.  I am looking at about 65% of RM (ish) today and will ramp up the numbers over the coming weeks.  Bottom line is to stop short of failure and genearlly auto-regulate.  Feel it; don't fail it.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (<40 mins)
1. Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
2. Stairgators (1)
3. Planche Variation (1x20s, 1x20s, 1x20s)
4. Scissor Splits/Cuts (3, 3, 2/3)
5. Basic MU Ring Routine to Lever (1x3-20s, 1x3-20s, 1x3-20s)
6. Kill Carry  (1)

With the lever and planche I am looking for a minumum hold time of 3s a rep, working the hardest variation of each that I can, with a maximum 20s.  I might throw in an easier variation of 20s or so on the final rep just to maintain volume.  Similarly I might have a few goes at the hardest variation.

Stairgators make a welcome return to my routine.  I start from my kitchen on all fours, moving backwards through the house and up the stairs.  At the top of the stairs I move forwards, down the stairs back to the kitchen - as fast and as smoothly as I can.  Good fun.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

E Numbers: An Edible Adventure

Another good spot of informative broadcasting from the BBC.  'E Numbers: An Edible Adventure' provided an intriguing look at E numbers and their use in our food:
  • Food writer Stefan Gates sets off on a three-part adventure to uncover the truth about those notorious food additives, E numbers. He wants to find out where these chemicals come from and what they actually do in our food.

Friday, 20 August 2010


I have spent the last week in London on business.  Training has had to adapt.  Hotel rooms are dull places and hotel gyms are as far from paleo as you can imagine - typically comprising of a small room with a long mirrored wall, piped music/wall-mounted TV, some dumbells with biscuit-sized weights on each end, a stationary bike or treadmill and that is about it.  The gym at the Copthorne Tara Hotel in Kensington was no exception.  No pull up bar is a real shocker, even for a Crap Gym.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Thursday, 12 August 2010

In Defence of Meat (beware food that changes its nutritional stripes)

 I have just finished Michael Pollan's 'In Defence of Food'.  It is odd that a book that does so much to promote our re-engagement with 'real food' should start off with a modern vegie-centric mantra of 'Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.'  This is doubly perplexing given that Pollan doffs his cap to the research of Weston A Price who found (my emphasis),
  • '...populations that thrived on seafood diets, dairy diets, meat diets, and diets in which fruit, vegetables and whole grains predominated.  The Masai of Africa consumed virtually no plant food at all, subsisting on a diet of meat, blood and milk....The Eskimos he interviewed lived on raw fish, game meat, fish roe and blubber, seldom eating anything remotely green....Price found groups that ate diets of wild animal flesh to be generally healthier than the agriculturists who relied on cereals and other plant foods; the agriculturists tended to have somewhat higher levels of tooth decay...'

Saturday, 7 August 2010

I See Stripes

The Tiger That Isn't is a hugely entertaining looking in to the persuasive power of numbers.  Reducing complexity down to a single number is fraught with danger.  That this self same value can then be seized upon by politicians and others with power (and an agenda), which can then be used as a crude tool with which to heard the masses through a combination of pseudo science and, basically, fear, is reason enough to read this book:
  • Seeing a pattern of stripes in the leaves, we would run from what looks like a tiger.  There are illusions in numbers too, often just as intimidating.  This book reveals what the numbers really show, and exposes that tiger that isn't.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Volume Wk6 W/O3

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (45 mins)
1a. Deadlift/RLL (one or two warm up sets, 5x95, 3x120/118, 1x140/135, 4xRLLs)
1b. Assisted HeSPU : Snatch: Press : MTBs (8x18kg, 8x18kg, 8x18kg)
2. Assisted OACs (8x49/47kg, 8x49/47kg, 6/8x49/47kg)
3a. Tucked Ice Cream Maker (8, 8, 8)
3b. Wall Planche Press Ups (8, 8, 8 dropped intensity by moving hands forwards to reach target)
3c. Kneeling Wrist Push Ups (3, 3, 3)

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Volume Wk6 W/O2*

*Technically this is Week 7, Workout 1, but for my records it is easier to incorporate my last week off and keep with the naming convention of the intended training session.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)
1. Rowing (5x100m:15s rest)
2a. Pistols/Pillar Jumps (8/10x58/57, 8/10x63/57, 8/10x63/57, 4xBW Wall Jumps - high)
2b. Straight Back Lever (3x3s, 3x3s, 3x3s)
3a. Wall Walk : Back-Bridge : Hyper-extension (1x4, 1x15s, 1x15s)
3b. Tuck Planche (3x3s, 3x3s, 3x3s)

Tuesday, 3 August 2010


Keep It Simple Stupid.  Sound advice, and for me, perhaps the biggest hook in paleo.  It occurred to me several years ago, to consider what I would actually eat if I were trapped out in the wilderness for a year (answer: anything I could hunt with the addition of some seasonal vegetation).  Suddenly WHAT I should be eating came sharply in to focus.

Tamir Katz was the first author whom I came across who had actually articulated this very proposition as a guide to how we should eat - a moment etched deeply in to my psyche.  An idea so fiendishly simple and yet so profound.  Katz' book 'TBK Fitness Program' became my first piece in the paleo jigsaw.

With such simplicity we avoid prescriptive RDAs, dietary programs involving the maintaining of cumulative figures for each of the macro nutrients that we each day (and a whole host of other measures), calculations concerning protein to lean bodyweight and we avoid worst of all, traffic light systems (how many 'ambers' can you eat in a day?).  With paleo we avoid hunger and the misapplication of maths.

So I was pleased to see that someone has tried to run with this idea of simplicity....

Monday, 2 August 2010

More on Vitamin D

Another Radio 4 program investigating Vitamin D (available for only six more days).  The Food Program looks at the mounting evidence in support of supplementing with D (notwithstanding Ken's comments):
  • A growing body of evidence suggests we may need more Vitamin D. But since access to the sun is limited and people are wary of skin cancer, should we be fortifying more foods with Vitamin D or consuming supplements?Health professionals have been appalled at the return of rickets in some communities and studies have shown that infants can be at risk of heart failure if the mother is lacking in Vitamin D. Current guidelines are based on the avoidance of rickets rather than on an optimal amount of Vitamin D for health. Why is the UK apparently behind other countries in its recommendations and in supplementation and fortification of foods - and does this need to change?

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Merlene Ottey

Merlene Ottey is an awesome athlete and at 50 she will today become the oldest athlete to compete at the European Championships should she be selected to anchor Slovenia's (her adopted country), 4x100m relay team.

She registered on my radar back in 1984 at the Los Angeles Olympics (along with 'Flo Jo'). I remember my dad (a big athletics fan) telling me to 'keep an eye on her' - something I have done for the past 26 years! In that Olympics Otteys grace (and beauty), really made an impact on me. I am guessing dad's 'keeping an eye on her' wasn't similarly restricted to 'athletic interest'!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Vitamin D

Another episode from BBC Radio 4's Case Notes, this time on Vitamin D:
  • After a cold winter with little sunlight lack of vitamin D is common, but how do you know if your levels are too low? Traditionally lack of Vitamin D is linked with poor bone health, but new studies suggest that milder deficiency may also be linked to asthma, some cancers and diabetes. Dr Mark Porter investigates and hears from a night shift worker who had such excruciating pain in her hands she thought that she had arthritis - when her doctor checked for vitamin D levels, 3 weeks of supplements cured the pain.
They discuss the role of vitamin D in diabetes, cancer (of the colon), colds, flu, TB and the immune system in general (including allergic disorders like hayfever, exzma and asthma).

"What Controls Physical Activity in Children?"

From Radio 4's Case Notes program; Childhood Obesity:
  • Dr Mark Porter reports on the unique study that is tracking obesity from childhood. Researchers in Plymouth have been following the progress of a group of 300 children since they were born. Now they are teenagers, and data from taking blood samples and weighing them has helped the scientists to reveal that obesity follows gender lines and that diet is more important than exercise when it comes to losing weight.
At 14:30 one of the researchers says:
  • "I think if you were to ask a health strategist who believed that physical activity was important in the management and prevention of childhood obesity I think he would say 'well what I want to know is what controls physical activity' because I need to know what controls it before I can do anything about it.

    And I think if you put that question to the public at large they'd give you the environmental answer - it's green spaces, it's physical education at school, it's leisure activities after school, it's parental encouragement.

Pretty Fly for a White Guy*

Lemaitre storms to victory (despite a poor start).  At 20 years old, time is on his side.  Awesome potential.

*"Talking about white sprinters, I find this absurd," he said. "I had a good race, I broke the record, but there is not much more to say. I did what I had to do, that's it. This story is too much. I don't like it."

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Running After Antelope

This is primarily one for the paleo-runners our there, but even for the non-runners, there is some beautiful prose here (fast forward to about the six minute mark; it runs until about the 50 minute mark), courtesy of This American Life
  • Stories of people engaged in a battle with nature — a battle they don't stand much chance of winning. Most of the show is Scott Carrier's story of trying for twelve years to chase down and catch an antelope by foot.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Caution With Numbers

With someone like Art DeVany so long at the helm, it was only a matter of time before 'Paleo' was subject to an outbreak of Mathematics.  Denise Minger and The China Study have opened up a whole swathe of interest in statistics that is really great to see.  Who'd have thought that having prised open nutrition, biology, anthropology and various branches of medical research, such an abstract discipline would be next on the list?

Continuing on from my earlier theme of maths books you really should read, I would like to add "1089 And All That" to the list.  This is a great read, much in the vein of "The Most Beautiful Mathematical Formulas: An Entertaining Look at the Most Insightful, Useful and Quirky Theorems of All Time".  And from it, I would like to offer this little anecdote:
  • "[an] astronomer, a physicist and a mathematician ...were on a train journey together in Scotland.  Glancing from the window they observed a black sheep in the middle of a field.
      'How interesting!' said the astronomer.  'All Scottish sheep are black!'
      The physicist, rather startled, said: 'Surely you mean some Scottish sheep are black?'
    But the mathematician viewed even this as a bit rash.  'I think what you both mean,' he said, 'is that there is at least one sheep in Scotland which is black on at least one side.'"
Let's hope that similar caution is applied to the results of TCS!

Volume Wk6 W/O1

I am chuffed to see an outbreak of theology on Free the Animal.  I similarly drew attention to the link between dietary dogma/fanaticism and theology some time ago.  Looks like they have more in common than even I thought - or is it simply the human condition?

I don't put myself above such criticism.  I evangelize, but heck, at least the roots of paleo are consistent with anthropology, anatomy, evolution, Darwinism, physics, biology etc... even if my particular implementation is not. 

We are in an odd situation where we want to trust Science, but Science has been abused and we have had reason to doubt that which came under the umbrella of science.

Nutrition science in particular has been ridden hard and put away wet for nigh-on 50 years!  I like to look on the bright side and, as the Internet has brought transparency, so Science is looking to scrub-up quite nicely.  Never again will it be so sorely treated.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)
1a. Sprinting (10s, 10s, 10s, 10s)
1b. Advanced Frog Planche (1x20s, 1x20s, 1x20s)

2a. L-Sit Rope-Climb to Lock Offs to One Arm Lowers (2, 2, 2)
2b. Cuts to Split Scissors (3x3, 3x2, 3x1)

3 Fingerboard Routine (10min)
4. Handstand (Play@LGKF for time)

Feeling a little 'tweak' in my right elbow.  This could/should be a time to take a week off....