Monday, 22 February 2010

Gymnastic Pull Workout

I took last week off and so am raring to go this week.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25 mins)

1) Street Sprints (6 x 10s x 50s rest)

2a) Muscle Up to L-Sit to Basic Ring Routine to Tuck Lever (5, 4, 3 MUs, 20s Lever)
2b) Laddering

3a) Ring Splits/Cuts (3x3 each way with hold for time)
3b) Tuck/Frog Planche (for 60s total - usu. 3x20s)
3c) Deadhang Repeaters (1x 3a:7r:120s on big rungs)/Foot Off Laddering (2x10)

The first of the sprints was a warm up. Sprint five was a deload. The rest were all-out and I felt fleet of foot. The MUs were controlled and smooth both up and down.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

All the Different Seasons

The snow returned today and this evening, after supper and before their batch, Captain Kid and Flash wanted to go for an evening walk around the block in the dark. They donned head torches and lamps and off we went.

This seems to have brought out the creative side of Captain Kid as she penned this poem on her return (with a little help from Mrs A):
  • In summertime it's very hot,
    We like to play outside a lot,
    In autumn time the leaves turn brown,
    We like to watch them all fall down,
    In winter time comes the snow,
    And Father Christmas don't you know,
    In springtime the leaves grow back,
    And little ducklings go quack, quack, quack!

    By Captain Kid (Aged 5)

Media Bits

  1. I have found the John Durant episode of the Colbert Report on for those outside the US who could not get the original online version. The relevant bit is at 14:10. (The streaming from this site wasn't too great for me).
  2. Today's Observer had an article on freerunner Johnny Budden who plans to free-run
    from John O'Groats to Lands End. His training is described thus:
  • "Budden has no training schedule, no coach, no nutritional advice. Every day he rises at 7am, chooses a nearby mountain, and runs to the top. If he makes it back by early afternoon, he turns round and does it all over again. Some days he sets himself extra tasks – 1,000 squats, 200 chin-ups, or, if it has snowed overnight, to complete his run barefoot."

If that isn't enough to get your paleo-juices going then he also fits in a bit of wild swimming:

  • "The afternoon we meet, we go to the local golf links, on a wild, exposed peninsula he runs to every morning. 'It's the best way to start my day,' he says, pulling his hood over his head and throwing a few shadow punches. Looking down on the freezing waters, he points out two houses on either side of the bay, a couple of miles apart, that he swam between yesterday. Five different peaks glower at us from the coastline. Budden has already run them all."

He plans to complete the trip carrying a tent on his back and suggests he might take to washing in streams. Hardcore!

Friday, 19 February 2010

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

I have read lots of anecdotal evidence over the years of domesticated animals exhibiting human detrimental human conditions. There was a story of a bear in Canada that was feeding off Pizza scraps out the back of a restaurant. Apparently he developed diabetes!

I know of a few fat cats (not the Merril Lynch kind) that are fed a diet in low levels of poor quality protein (read: 'bulked up with carbohydrates') and a walk around my local park shows plenty of fat dogs (followed by fat owners).

It looks like hedgehogs can also achieve morbid obesity when removed from their natural environment. They are usually fattened up on a diet of bread and although some of them are put on a calorie controlled diet to lose weight, the lucky ones are trimmed down with an Atkins style diet.

So the anecdotal evidence is that we can really screw up animals by feeding them what we eat. However, we can also learn a thing or two by looking at animals in the wild.

This story was posted on the London EF Meet Up site; Dolphins Have Diabetes Off Switch. Dolphins share our large brains which demand a lot of glucose. Dolphin have an ability to flip their insulin sensitivity on and off as they move from daytime feeding to an overnight fast. The effect of insulin is negated during the fast.

One of the researchers, Dr Venn-Watson, suggested this mechanism evolved to cope with their high protein, low carbohydrate diet of fish. He went on to add,

  • '...we have found changes in dolphins that suggest that [this insulin resistance] could get pushed into a disease state. 'If we started feeding dolphins Twinkies, they would have diabetes.'

Who'd have 'thunk' it?

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Bigger Doing Nothing

The HST site has an article concerning hypertrophy minus the workout!
  • Summary: Shorebirds such as Red Knots (Calidris canutus) routinely make migratory flights of 3000 km or more. Previous studies on this species, based on compositional analyses, suggest extensive pectoral muscle hypertrophy in addition to fat storage before take-off. Such hypertrophy could be due to power training and/or be effected by an endogenous circannual rhythm.

Ok - so this might be of greater interest to Bill Oddie rather than Bertil Fox, but it is an interesting reminder of how we cannot escape the long shadow of evolution and how it may be both more productive and easier to work with it than against it.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Reps and Sets Random Thoughts

I see potential value in trying to use dramatically different rep ranges within a workout, not just between workouts.

I figured I should quickly draw up a list of what and where I wanted to improve. The thoughts behind all of this have been brewing for some time...

I have been GTGing with my finger tip pull ups and tuck planche in a bid to boost strength but want to see if I can implement a 5/3/1 type approach on specific exercises. I kind of do this anyway, but reckon I should follow the percentages mentioned in the link above.

The main exercises to use this approach would be:

  1. Pistols
  2. Lever
  3. Handstand/Press
  4. Muscle Ups
  5. Deadlift
I was looking at this a few weeks ago and have since come across this recommended loading from Jim Wendler:

Wave 1: 65%x5, 75%x5, 85%x5 or more
Wave 2: 70%x3, 80%x3, 90%x3 or more
Wave 3: 75%x5, 85%x3, 95%x1 or more
Wave 4: 40%x5, 50%x5, 60%x5

The percentages are such that you save your cookies for the last set - "the one that puts hair on your balls!" Problem is making such specific percentages translate to the planche and lever, or even to pistols, handstands and muscle ups. I could use time - I sure as hell am not about to add weights to my MUs. In fact time would appear to be all I can use ATM.

In addition there is the 5x5 program (kind of a 5/3/1 with stabilisers), where you can implement rests of three minutes for strength and 90 seconds or so if it is hypertrophy you desire. Areas where growth is of primary concern amongst blokes is the guns I guess - and that means chins! Chins give a lot of bang for the buck and if you cannot chin - and I mean PROPER chins (straight arm to sternum), you are a weak, misguided fool. Hmmmmm. Vanity is leading me astray. The 5x5 involves less messing around with percentages. You pick a load and go. Much easier.

Back to 5/3/1 - the trouble is also in translating these percentages to the campus board. The most obvious thing to do is to mark out 20 rungs and add weight. This means I can cut things to 5%. I am not strong enough to drop fingers but this would also be an option as would using smaller rungs or adding weight.

Friday, 12 February 2010

12-8-4 Pyramid W2

Week 2 on the 12-8-4 routine.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25 mins)
1) Rowing (L8:500m:moderate)
2) Dumbell Press (10kgx12, 12kgx6, 14kgx4)
3) Deadlifts (2x2x60%RM)
4) Weighted Chins (12xBW, 4x10kg, 4x12kg)

5a) Wall Walks (2x2)
5b) Tuck/Extended Levers (30s, 20s, 10s)
5c) Frog/Tuch Planche (30s, 20s, 5s, 10s)

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Alan Aragon

There is a post on Alan Aragon's blog which should be required reading for everyone. The post itself concerns Dr Robert Lustig's recent video on the dangers of fructose in the modern diet. Aragon makes a convincing stab at taking much of what Lustig says apart.

Where things really get interesting is in the comments section where Lustig himself turns up to defend his position. Subsequently the usual themes and defenses are offered up by assorted contributors with varying degrees of success.

The thread highlights how confusing and conflicting nutritional advice is. It also highlights the problems of a guru based approach to diet and training.

For me, I know that the 'paleo' approach is simple and gets me most of the way there. But that does not mean there isn't another approach that could deliver the same results or better. What I do may not be optimal but I find it an easy approach to health and fitness. I tweak stuff and experiment. 'Paleo' has given me a good starting position but it does not provide all the answers.

Aragon's post is a good reminder that we should not ignore research that tackles cherished beliefs.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Rope Climb and KC

The main workout for Tuesday:

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30mins*)
1a) Barefoot Sprints (15s, 12s, 10s)
1b) Frog/Tuck Planch (30s, 15s, 5s)
1c) Tuck Lever (30s, 15s, 5s)
1d) Laddering

2a) Ring Splits/Cuts (3, 2, 1 each way)
2b) Rope Climb to Cirques (3, 2, 1)

3a) Kill Carry* (+20kg weight vest)

4a) Fingerboard

The session time was around 30 minutes but the fingerboard workout actually ramped up the overall time by a further 10 minutes.

UPDATE: I am feeling this workout today (Wednesday). I think Friday's workout will be a deload session.

Monday, 8 February 2010

GTG 123123123

This weeks GTG is three laps of the one rep, two rep then, three rep progression. Take as long as you can between reps and sets.

1) L- Sit Fingertip Pull Ups (pause at the top - one, two, three)
2) Tuck Planche (one second, 2s, 3s)
3) Assisted Pistols (one rep, two reps, three reps)

Got to make sure I go in to the planche with high hips from the outset.

Sugary Drinks and Cancer

Reuters ran with this story today: Study links sugary soft drinks to pancreas cancer. Some of the theories raised have had a degree of prominence on the paleo forums for some years - the theory being that sugar fuels tumors:
  • "The high levels of sugar in soft drinks may be increasing the level of insulin in the body, which we think contributes to pancreatic cancer cell growth," ...Insulin, which helps the body metabolize sugar, is made in the pancreas.

Association does not equal causation etc...and as noted by researchers in the article, soft drink consumption in Singapore "was associated with several other adverse health behaviors such as smoking and red meat intake, which we can't accurately control for."

DC has a great post about the 'dangers' of eating red meat and processed meat.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Observer Sport Monthly

The Observer's Sport Monthly supplement had an atricle on barefoot running today.

In the article there is caution about simply moving straight in to barefoot running and about progressively relearning to run unshod; allowing the bones, muscles and ligaments of the legs and foot to adjust.

It concludes thus;

  • "It's an exciting thought that if barefoot running is all it's cracked up to be, we might soon see the elites shedding their shoes and reaching new heights (well, speeds) in competition. In my opinion, however, such an outcome is unlikely. Barefoot running may be 'all about' a lot of things but it is far more about natural, healthy movement – getting back to your roots, quite literally – than about speed."


Friday, 5 February 2010

12-8-4 Pyramid

OK, I have decided to focus a bit on this 12-8-4 routine. I want to see its effects. I reckon that this will be my basic workout for the next month.

I also need to perform more wall walks (particularly instead of kneel backs) to work the core. I will suck it and see tomorrow. The shoulders get a hard workout from this routine. Might have to limit planching and levers to the GTG routine.

*Update - I felt ropey on entering the gym so switched stuff around. For some reason I front-loaded the session with another O'Neill Test which nearly killed me. Oh ego, why dost thou drive me thus?

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25 mins)
1) O'Neill Test(L3:4":1158m)
2) Dumbell Press (10kgx12, 12kgx6, 14kgx4)
3) Deadlifts (2x130kg, 2x120kg)
4) Weighted Chins (12xBW, 4x10kg, 3x10kg)

WRT the resistance, the Concept2 site advises:
  • The settings 1-10 on the Indoor Rower are not work level settings or fitness level settings. The intensity of your workout is controlled by how hard you pull on the handle and is calculated and displayed by the electronic monitor as you row. Your accomplishment is indicated by the monitor, not the setting of the wind damper.

The ONT really did wipe me out. The only thing I should not really have dropped was the wall walks. But apart form that, this is a superb little workout. I will be happy to stick with this for a while....oh, and I simply have to get in to the 'Good' range for the ONT!

Damn my ego. :)

The other thing I will mention is that I am now up to just under 84kg. I am assuming that the scales I use at the gym are accurate and if so, then this is another significant increase in weight of late. I was thinking that I look lean at the moment so this *might* be an increase in muscle.

My routines involve novel movements changed on a weekly basis, along with novel sets and reps. This is how I try to implement 'power law' training. I am happy to do this as I know that strength does NOT increase in a linear fashion which is why I shy away from linear training programs. But similarly growth is far from linear.

My experience is that you cannot forecast it! All you can do is give your body the impetus to grow (intense exercise), give it the nutrients to grow (nutrition), give it time to grow (rest) and create a suitable hormonal environment (IF). The rest is all downstream of your control.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Test Your 'Flight' Reflex in 15 Seconds

Best viewed with sound for the full effect! Watch the car closely.

Colbert Report

The Colbert Report did a feature on John Durant's Evolutionary Fitness Group in NYC. Sadly the link above does not work for those in the UK - but hopefully someone will rip it to YouTube!

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
John Durant

Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorEconomy

Alternatively you can install Tor or use HideMyAss.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Don't Grow Old

The BBC's Horizon program goes from strength to strength with yet another interesting episode - this time on aging:
  • For centuries scientists have been attempting to come up with an elixir of youth. Now remarkable discoveries are suggesting that ageing is something flexible that can ultimately be manipulated.

    Horizon meets the scientists who are attempting to piece together why we age and more vitally for all of us, what we can do to prevent it. But which theory will prevail?
    Does the 95-year-old woman who smokes two packets of cigarettes a day hold the clue? Do blueberries really delay signs of ageing or is it more a question of attitude? Does the real key to controlling how we age lie with a five-year-old boy with an extraordinary ageing disease or with a self-experimenting Harvard professor?

    Could one of these breakthroughs really see our lives extend past 120 years?

We see the usual suspects such as event driven aging, calorie restriction and telemere length. All the kind of stuff that you are probably aware of. Around the forty-three minute mark one of the scientists involved identified three genes that were associated (over-represented) within centenarians. It was noted that:

  1. Two of the genes increased 'good' cholesterol (HDL) in a 'significant way',
  2. A third gene seemed important to 'prevent diabetes'

Now where have I heard of a diet that performs something similar? The guy says adds that no drug he knows of performs a similar increase in HDL. Hmmmm. Well, I guess you could always await the manufacture of some drug that mimic the same behaviour.

Of additional note is a scientist who destroyed the myth surrounding the notion of 'oxidative stress causing aging and the consequent benefits of antioxidants' (20:00). She stated that,

  • "People didn't want to accept what we found because there is too much investment in this area of research. Antioxidants are a multi-million dollar industry as you know..."

Nothing new with this attitude then.

The final section of the film follows some research from the 1970s where several pensioners were moved off to live in a place where they HAD to be self-sufficient. After a few days they showed significant improvements in their health markers. After a week many of them showed improved gait, improved eyesight and hearing, and, improved IQ!


This week I am 'feeling it' a bit. The L-sit fingertip pull ups are easy but the pistols and tuck planches are feeling laboured.

I have moved to assisted pistols and the planches are now in the 'frog' position - but for the same short duration.

I have omitted the odd heavy workout this year already, but think I might need to deload for some time more 0n the GTG work.

Listen to your body. Adjust.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

5/3/1 Finger Strength

I have been looking for some time at the 5/3/1 workout and trying to figure out how I could incorporate it in to a finger training routine.

No program works forever (hence I utilise a huge variety of exercises and rep schemes in my workouts), but the basic approach seems to lend itself to the laddering work I do for finger strength.

The idea works on a four week cycle:
  • Week 1: 3 x 5
  • Week 2: 3 x 3
  • Week 3: 3 x 5, 3, 1
  • Week 4: deloading

You need to base the weights on 90% of your RM. So assuming the numbering down the left is the week, then the reps and percentages follow ('+' means to failure):

  1. 5x65%, 5x75% 5+x85%
  2. 3x70%, 3x80%, 3+90%
  3. 5x75%, 3x85%, 1+x95%
  4. 5x40%, 5x50% 5+x60%

After completion you add 5lbs (or in the laddering case, another step on the rung), to the RM and go again. T-Nation has an breakdown here.

It is a bit prescriptive for me. I like to simply use 'grrrr' rather than specific weights and measures. But as always, I like to look at other tools to get the job done. I will stick with the GTG and more instinctive approach for now but will look to implement this approach in to the mix in the future.

Climbing and Rings

The weather is still continuing to hover around zero degrees. The garage is cold to work in so I have increased the sprint activity as sprinting in gloves warms the hands up a treat.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25 mins)

1) Street Sprints (6 x 10s x 50s rest)

2a) L-Sit Muscle Ups to Basic Ring Routine to Tuck Lever (5, 4, 3 MUs, 20s Lever)
2b) Laddering

3a) Ring Splits/Cuts (3x3 each way)
3b) Frog Planche (2x 20s)
3c) Deadhang Repeaters (2x 3a:7r:120s on small rungs)

The full set of sprints were performed as a discrete bit of training. Then I moved on to three sets (unless stated otherwise), of each of the following groups or exercises.

I had to keep the lever and planche down to 20s from an intended 30s hold as the shoulders quickly fatigued. Nothing wrong with a lighter session though.

The MU's were chracteristically brutal. I had to work for the last rep in each set....and THEN go in to the basic ring routine. Finishing on a lever really is a killer.

Monday, 1 February 2010

GTG 123123123

This weeks GTG is three laps of the one rep, two rep then, three rep progression. Take as long as you can between reps and sets.

1) L- Sit Fingertip Pull Ups (one, two, three)
2) Tuck Planche (one second, 2s, 3s)
3) Pistols (Alternate leg, one rep, two reps, three reps)

I have jigged things around a bit. I need a harder variation of the fingertip pull-ups and I have replaced the HRS with pistols. I swap legs after each pistol - regardless of how many in the set. The focus with the planche is to develop the 'leaning forwards'.