Friday, 28 May 2010

Strength Wk3 W/O3

I am taking next week off to relax and play. So I intend to leave my 'cookies' in this workout.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25 mins)
1a. Deadlift (5x95, 3x115, 1x128)
1b. HSPU/Press/Snatch ( 5x16kg, 3x18kg, 1+x21kg)
2a. One Arm Chins (5x42kg, 3x47kg, 2/1+x67/53kg)
2b. Pseudo/Planche Press Ups (5, 3, 1)
2c. Splits (1x30s, 3x15s, 5x10s)
3a. Ice Cream Maker Tucked/Lever (5, 3, 1)
3b. Left/Right Cuts (3x30s)

I think I could have squeezed more reps out of the DL but it is an exercise that I am slightly in awe of. My planching works my back and I probably do more DLing than some would recommend, so I am happy to quit the set whilst I am ahead. I messed up the weights on my OACs so just pushed an extra rep at 67kg.

This evening I am off on a hike that should take around three and a half hours. It will be leisurely and a nice end to the week (and indeed to this phase of training).

Next week will be spent mostly in a pool!

*Update: Last night I completed my final training walk for the Welsh 14 3000s. It was a ten mile hike through the Peak District carrying my full kit and water requirements (approx. 8kg).

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Strength Wk3 W/O2

Time for a update shot methinks. Not sure I am much leaner since Christmas overall. I reckon I am steady at around 10%BF, maybe less.

The gains in strength keep coming - particularly on the big compound movements.

The motivation and drive are from within, but the use of detailed records ensures that I don't go light - and closes the gap between "how hard I think it is, and how hard I can go".

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (35 mins)
1. Rowing (L10; 500m, 00:01:40)
2a. Pistols (5x70/55, 3x70/63, 3/1+x92/70)
2b. Wall Walk/BackBridge (2, 3, 4)
2c. Left/Right Cuts (3x20s)
3a. Tuck/Frog Planche (1x3s, 1x30s, 1x30s)
3b. Splits (3x20s)
3b. Straight Back Lever (3x20s)

(5 mins extra; two reps of each, pass through twice)
- Pillar Jumps
- Pillar Jump Split
- Handstand
- Cartwheels

Something is definitely awry with my RM. After my rowing I felt brutal and threw caution to the wind on the pistols. I knew I had more in me and so pushed the weights big time (for me).

I came in much heavier on the pistols and finished the last set with three reps (two extra), on body weight plus a 10kg plate in hand! This is definitely a new high for me. The planches and levers felt good (I pushed the volume on the former having started with a strength-oriented version on my first set). I only hope that this Friday my OAC comes good.

I am going to take a break next week (active rest), and then will have to retest my RM on my return to the gym.

I am not sure whether to embark on another four weeks of strength or whether to do some plyometrics. I like to keep it fresh and am aware that gains can quickly go to your head - leading to injury. Next week will emphasise play and relaxation. But on my return......

Monday, 24 May 2010

Strength Wk3 W/O1

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (35 mins)
1a. Light Sprinting (1x20s, 1x15s, 1x10s)
1b. Light Frog/Tuck Planche (5x3s, 3x6s, 1x21s)

2a. Four MUs to Ring Routine to Lever/RopeClimb (20s, 20s, 20s)
2b. Ring Splits to Cuts (3, 3, 3)
2c. Fingerboard Laddering and Hangboarding (5x5, 5x5, 5x5, 5x5, 5x5)

3. Handstand Straddle (Play@LGKF for time)

The sprinting felt great. It was a very hot day, but only three reps wasn't too taxing in the heat (although I did max out on intensity). The MUs were curtailed to four per set although I had intended five. The fingerboard work sucked - but I had climbed yesterday so put it down to fatigue.

The usual mixed bag of results then, but 40 minutes well spent nonetheless.

Friday, 21 May 2010

L'Cygne Noir**

The beer belly appears to be linked to a risk of dementia,

  • A US study of more than 700 adults showed that being overweight is associated with smaller brain volume, a factor linked with dementia.

I typed 'beer belly', but this could just as easily be described as a 'grain belly'. I wonder how much artery clogging fat there is in beer? I guess about zero. Somehow dementia seems to be tied up with whatever causes obesity:

  • Dr Susanne Sorensen, head of research at the Alzheimer's Society, said: "We have all heard how a beer belly can be bad for our heart, but this study suggests carrying excess abdominal weight could also increase your risk of getting dementia.

    "This is not really surprising as a large stomach is associated with high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes - all major risk factors for dementia."

This is interesting. Given the geographical profile of it, it is as if dementia, heart disease and all these other nasties are simply expressions of a common underlying problem.

Now assuming that these small-brained victims of dementia are not disproportionately represented by vegetarians, what we, The Great Unwashed want to know is, 'how can we protect ourselves from this condition?'

Avoiding vegetarianism would appear to be one approach (oh and if you think that vegetarianism leads to a slender physique you should ....well given the readership of this blog I cannot really post a picture, save to say one of the most dedicated vegetarians I know has one of the most prolific 'abdominal cornice' you could imagine). The other recommendation is to follow a 'Mediterranean Diet';

  • Latest work in Archives of Neurology shows sticking to a diet rich in nuts, fish and vegetables significantly cuts the chance of developing Alzheimer's.

    A "Mediterranean diet" containing plenty of fresh produce and less high-fat dairy and red meat has long been thought to improve general health.

Ah yes - they mythical 'Mediterranean Diet'. This phrase sets my BS-detector a-buzzin' along with that other well-worn phrase 'a balanced diet', not least because several studies that come out in support of the Mediterranean Diet were based upon religious orders who undertook periodic fasting. Interesting eh?

When you look at typical 'Mediterranean Diets' you see plenty of wine, meat (goat and sheep), cheese as well as the regularly touted 'nuts, fish and vegetables' that so easily follow any explanation of this diet.

So why the coyness when it comes to mentioning the red meat and saturated fat that is also a significant part of Mediterranean cuisine? Ah, yes that's right, because red meat and saturated fat lead to (ahem), coronary heart disease.

This then, brings us to the French Paradox. Being English I have a natural in-bred enmity towards the French* - I mean they are stubborn and arrogant, put a premium on family life, have great food, an excellent national football team, play some fine rugby, produce superb wine, have fantastic scenery, lots of mountains, some very good music (rapping in French is the coolest), produce great films (eg. L'Haine). Yep, I hate them all right!

But the real reason they get my goat is that they drink wine, eat rich food high in saturated fat and smoke hard....yet seem to have low levels of coronary heart disease. This is known as the French Paradox. Damn those cheese eating surrender monkeys!

In the 16th century the term 'Black Swan' was used to describe an impossible event. This was based upon an assumption in the old world that 'all swans were white' - as could be attested to by the fact that all records of the time only ever spoke of swan-feathers as being white.

In 1697, Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh was sailing on the Swan River in Australia and witnessed the existence of black swans.

Rather than coming up with the philosophical notion of the 'Black Swan Paradox', we have moved on from the redundant idea that 'all swans are white'; we know this statement is actually wrong. We call black swans, black swans.

With so many of the threads of modern ailments leading back to quite common dietary/nutritional profiles, it can't be long before the absurdity of maintaining "Le Paradox de le L'Cygne Noir**" is realised and the term 'French Paradox' is seen exactly for what it is; not a paradox at all, just wrong.

*Joking. Apparently I have French lineage***.

**Apologies for my poor French

***Part English and part French - "means I have bad-breath and I'm shit in bed!" (Ricky Gervais). I am also part Scottish.

Strength Wk2 W/O3

This evening I intend to complete another 3hour hike over the local moors. Summer is truly at the door and I am looking forwards to getting my 'greens'.

But to business...

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25 mins)
1. Deadlift (3x93, 3x108, 3x122)
2a. HSPU/Press/Snatch ( 3x15kg, 3x17kg, 3+x19kg)
2b. One Arm Chins (3x39kg, 3x45kg, 4/3x50kg)
3a. Pseudo Planche Press Ups (3, 3, 3)
3b. Splits (1x20s, 1x20s, 1x20s)
3c. Ice Cream Maker Lever (3, 3, 3)
3d. Left/Right Cuts (1x30s, 1x30s, 1x30s)

I had to race through this workout! There was no time for the splits or cuts (but they will get done later). The deadlifts felt stiff on that last set. The OACs felt pretty steady though - as did the dumbbell press. PPPUs are never easy - especially whilst trying to push your (elevated) feet against a wall to gain traction.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Strength Wk2 W/O2

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (35 mins)
1. Rowing (L10; 500m, 00:01:45)
2a. Pistols (3x52, 3x59, 6/3+x67/66)
2b. Wall Walk/BackBridge (3, 3, 3)
2c. Left/Right Cuts (3x20s)
3a. Tuck Planche (3x15s)
3b. Splits (3x20s)
3b. Straight Back Lever (3x15s)

- Pillar Jumps
- Pillar Jump Split
- Handstand
- Cartwheels

I did double pistols on my last set (and at a greater weight). The wall walks felt tough so I did three rather than four reps for each of the sets.

The levers were quite strict and I reckon there is gain there. As ever, the planches kind of disappoint. I think my shoulders are getting bigger, but not necessarily stronger in the planche.

Still, I will keep varying the sets and reps. I am aware that a lot of my training targets the shoulders so as long as there is progress in some of the shoulder work, and I remain injury free, I must be happy.

The final play section was good fun. The pillar split jump is a laugh. It can only be a matter of time before I miss and hurt myself. Should be comedy-gold!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Strength Wk2 W/O1

I have increased the number of MUs for this week

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (40 mins)
1a. Light Sprinting (1x15s, 1x15s, 1x15s)
1b. Light Frog/Tuck Planche (1x20s, 1x20s, 1x20s)
2a. Four MUs to Ring Routine to Lever/RopeClimb (20s, 20s, 20s)
2b. Ring Splits to Cuts (3, 3, 3)
2c. Fingerboard Laddering and Hangboarding (5x5, 5x5, 5x5, 5x5, 5x5)
3. Handstand Straddle (Play@LGKF for time)

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Skater Boy/Man

I was out and about in the park today on my new pair of blades. The damn laces broke within seconds of drawing them in. And then a velcro ankle strap snapped. I still managed to skate.

I sold my last pair of roller skates about twenty five years ago and have only skated once in that time for any length of time (and that was about twenty years ago at a roller disco), and also had a quick go on a pair of blades - but no more than for about fifty meters. Other than, that I tried my mates blades a few weeks ago, again for a distance of about fifty meters.

So today was a rather novel experience. My actions raised a few smiles from the teenagers in the park. I definitely improved over the hour I was on them. At one point a kid of about ten glided past me on his blades on one foot - the other blade tipped on end and being stylistically weaved behind him (I guess to cooly slow himself down). Thankfully I was sitting down so could give him 'the nod' as a fellow skater without him knowing how crap I was. Not only did he pretty much blank me, but the crappy disco colours of my boots probably made me stand out of a muppet.

Somewhat later I found a bit of smooth tarmac to ride on. Great news....except for the fact that I was sharing it with two girls of about three - who were practicing on their scooters. Maaaan I felt like a chump.

Flash and Mrs A were on the swings so I must have looked to everyone like a lonely old guy trying to be 'down' with the kids.

Did I have fun. Hell yeah. Do I know no shame? Erm....nope. It is going to be one hot summer. One hour down, nine-thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-nine to go! Awesomeness WILL be mine! lol

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Crib Goch and Padarn Wild Swim

In preparation for the Welsh 14 (15) Three Thousands I did a recce over Crib Goch and a decent back in to Nant Peris. After a lunchtime break I undertook a short recon from Nant Peris towards Elidir Fawr. I have done the route before but made a few navigational errors that I don't wish to repeat. We covered about ten miles in all and are well placed to complete the walk proper.

This also gave me a chance to try out my Vibrams in a more severe setting. They performed excellently over the ridge and I have full confidence now in completing the Fourteen Three-thousands in them in a month's time.

One area of concern is walking in the dark with them. Stubbing a toe or a footfall on to sharp rock can smart a wee bit. When tired at the end of a long route, and in failing light, you cannot simply bulldozer through rough ground in VFFs the way you can in boots. But I feel sufficiently adapted in them to complete the tricky last section of this walk in them if we can optimise completion of the first two sections of this walk (to Ogwen Cottage).

We were treated to some fantastic weather in the afternoon, and on packing our tents/kit away, headed in to Llanberis were I took the opportunity for a quick dip in to Llyn Padarn. The water was much warmer than the Irish Sea over Christmas - but still refreshingly cool and rather invigorating (and still 'Five Fingered' as you can see above!).

A quick towel-dry and then off to Pete's Eats for a spectacular 'Even Bigger Breakfast' - aka 'The Big Jim', and a couple of mugs of coffee with some complementary cake. The service was excellent and the food exceedingly good.

A great weekend - satisfying throughout and my return tonight offers the chance to spend tomorrow with my kids. I can't wait to tell them about the trip and to formulate our own little plan to get them up in to high and wild places in the not-too-distant future!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Strength Wk1 W/O3

With a big walk planned for Saturday I am not sure how much I want to push the Deadlifts in this session:

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (35 mins)
1. Deadlift (5x88, 5x101, 5x115)
2a. HSPU/Press/Snatch ( 5x14kg, 5x16kg, 6/5+x18kg)
2b. One Arm Chins (5x36kg, 5x42kg, 8/5+x47kg)
3a. Planche Press Ups (5, 5, 6/5+)
3b. Splits (1x20s, 1x20s, 1x20s)
3c. Ice Cream Maker Lever (5, 5, 5+)
3d. Left/Right Cuts (1x20s, 1x20s, 1x20s)

(Some fingerboarding was done on Thursday evening as I will leave for Wales straight away on Friday - leaving no time to get some climbing in!)

Bolded figures are extra achieved - otherwise the reps, sets and weights achieved are as shown.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Strength Wk1 W/O2

Today should be lower body focused. However, due to testing my 8RM on pistols during Monday, and given that I will be undertaking a major hike up Snowdon this weekend, I am giving pistols a miss today.

The planche and lever work will be light. I need to save my shoulders for Friday. All this jigging around makes space for some leg stretching (but the effect of Monday's ring splits/cuts is still noticeable).

I will chose the Wallwalks over the Backbridge to add variation and to work my abs a bit more. A light rowing warm up should ease me in to this workout.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (35 mins)
1. Light Rowing (L10; 500m, 00:01:38)
2a. Wall Walk/BackBridge (2, 2, 2)
2b. Left/Right Cuts (3x20s)
3a. Tuck Planche (3x10s)
3b. Splits (3x20s)
3b. Straight Back Lever (3x10s)

- Pillar Jumps
- Pillar Jump Split
- Handstand
- Cartwheels

The weather was brilliant today - more blue skies between the lumps of cumulus - so I tried to be outdoors as much as possible.

The leg stretches definitely worked me a bit. All a consequence of the ring splits and ring cuts on Monday (which are essentially a strength exercise)

The WallWalks were easy. The backbridges are obviously working on my spinal flexibility. It might be time to try some flick-ups from the off my back.

The levers and planches felt a bit tough so I did three sets rather than the planned six. This freed up time to do some handstands and cartwheels (leading with each hand).

I also did a few pillar jumps and managed to find two pillars a few feet apart. I jumped from btween them landing with a foot in each pillar (straddling the gap between them). All in the name of fun and self-amusement.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Vibram Accessory Idea

I have been wearing Vibram Five Fingers for several months now. I have used the Classics and am currently spending significant time hiking in a pair of Flows. One thing I have noticed is that in cold condition, my toes go numb and this numbness can progress to the rest of the foot quite quickly.

I have alleviated much of this discomfort by wearing two pairs of tracksuit bottoms (Ron Hills if you must know), in a bid to keep the lower leg warm. This has worked quite well and meant that only my toes remain cold - the rest of the foot warming up in all but the coldest weather.

I am currently in the process of experimenting with 'leg warmers' made from the ends of an old wetsuit in a bid to keep the lower foot warm (think of a 'gauntlet' for the lower leg). I considered an alternative approach to try and make a full Five Finger neoprene stocking (like a flexible/neoprene wellington) - although with the disadvantage that you'd be unable to remove the upper section in hot and dry weather.

It occured to me on my last hike in cold and wet conditions that the Flows were working on the same principle as a wet suit and that a pair of neoprene gators/leg warmers/stockings might well aid in keeping the lower leg warm and so perhaps the whole foot - thus being a useful addition to the range of Five Finger accessories.

Time to get stitching and cutting.


All of my RMs seem to have improved. I tested myself this lunchtime against RM and 8RM.

For me, the biggest gain was in the OAC. Assuming BW of 82kg, ten weeks ago I used to load of 62kg (meaning I used 20kg assistance). Today I used a 72kg load (so only 10kg assistance). The assistance was barely used as I broke from straight-arm and the leverages became more favourable; at which point my legs tucked up. I tried an 8RM which improved from 32kg (so 50kg assistance), to 52kg (meaning 30kg assistance).

Pistols were at an 8RM of 42kg (thus 40kg assistance). But now I can 8RM at 62kg (so now only require 20kg to hit all eight reps).

My deadlifting RM was set a week or two ago at 150kg - and I don't want to test that unneccessarily. I will just roll with this number; almost at double bodyweight! I need to mix in some reverse leg lifts to my schedule in place of deadlifting.

Although my handstands are getting firmer and of a better quality, my RM for dumbell military press is stuck at 24kg. I just couldn't shift the 26kg weights. But on an RM8, I went from 16kg to 20kg. Variety here is key. I need to focus on wall-assisted handstand press ups to try to move things along.

A lot of these gains come from simply adopting a more formal and measured approach to my loading. As I am focusing on the numbers over effort, the numbers are falling/gaining as I push myself to improve.

Underlying all this is the fact that I am getting stronger without getting injured! Injury free gains are my favourite. ;)

Strength Wk1 W/O1

So after a 10 week volume phase, I need to flesh out my strength. I am going to be using a broad 5:3:1 protocol over the next four weeks.

I will re-test my one rep maxes this lunchtime but then revert to my basic climbing/gymnastic oritented workout (as I do most Mondays). The mix of ring work will shift from Chins to Muscle Ups.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (40 mins)
1a. Light Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
1b. Light Frog/Tuck Planche (1x20s, 1x20s, 1x20s)
2a. Three MUs to Ring Routine to Lever/RopeClimb (20s, 20s, 20s)
2b. Ring Splits to Cuts (3, 3, 3)
2c. Fingerboard Laddering and Hangboarding (5x5, 5x5, 5x5, 5x5, 5x5)
3. Handstand Straddle (Play@LGKF for time)

All done with a mind to my RM tests earlier. I didn't push it...except on the Rings.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Volume Wk10 W/O2

Another Birthday. Steak tonight along with some cake and wine - before heading out on my new roller blades. Some guys get a sports car to appease their middle age desires - me, I get skates!

Another blue sky-day. I added some easy planche work to extend my workout outside in the sunshine.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)
1. Rowing (L10;00:01:32x500m)

2a. Wall Walk/BackBridge (15s, 15s, 15s)
2b. Splits (20s, 20s, 20s)
2c. Cuts Left/Right (20s, 20s, 20s)
2d. Tuck Planche (20s, 20s, 20s)

3a. Pistols (32kg, 32kg, 32kg)
3b. Tucked Lever (20s, 20s, 20s)
3c. Two-Arm Chins (5, 5, 5)

All of this was done at de-load intensity. I added some chins in for a bit of easy extra volume.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Volume Wk10 W/O1

Upper body focus. I would have worked out on Monday (lower body), but the hike across the Edale Skyline took it out of me. We covered 20 miles in around 8 hours. It rained heavily at times and in places was very boggy underfoot.

The Vibrams were okay - but I want to make some leg warmers out of an old wet suit as I think that this would keep my lower legs much warmer when wet (and in Vibrams, they ARE going to get wet).

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (35 mins)
1a. Deadlift (one or two warm up sets, 5x82, 5x95, 5x107)
1b. HSPU/Press/Snatch (12x12kg, 12x12kg, 12x12kg)
2a. Tucked Ice Cream Maker (8, 8, 8)
2b. Regular Chins (12, 12, 12)
3a. Planche Press Ups (8, 8, 8)
3b. Splits/Cuts (1x20s 1x20x 1x20s)

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Phenotypic Expression in Action

Researchers have identified a link between certain types of cancer and the activation of dormant DNA:
  • 'Long terminal repeats' (LTRs) are a form of 'junk DNA' -- genetic material that has accumulated in the human genome over millions of years. Although LTRs originate from viruses and are potentially harmful, they are usually made inactive when embryos are developing in the womb.

    If this process of inactivation doesn't work, then the LTRs could activate cancer genes, a possibility that was suggested in previous animal studies. This latest research has now demonstrated for the first time that these 'rogue' active LTRs can drive the growth of cancer in humans.

Phenotypic expression in action?

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Bring Before Me What Is Mine*

Another paleo check-box got ticked by the mainstream media today. The Telegraph announced that "Five minutes exercising in the countryside boosts mental health",

  • “A walk a day should help to keep the doctor away – and help to save the country money. There is a large potential benefit to individuals, society and to the costs of the health service if all groups of people were to ‘self-medicate’ more with green exercise.”

Who'd have thunk it? 'Experts' were quoted thusly,

  • Experts claim the combination of exercise and the sense of escape that being surrounded by nature and “fresh air” can bring, provides a psychological boost.

Wow, a recommendation to work out outdoors. Recognition that humans like to be on the hills, in a forest or beside the seaside*. Experts should turn their attention to telling us where bears like to do their 'business'. The siloed nature of medicine, health and fitness really doesn't do us any favours - and arguably leads to damage. This is as you'd expect from an agenda that recommends you defy the laws of nature and come out alive*.

I like the notion of 'self medicating with green exercise', but the important bit for me is the implication that if you 'get' the paleo concept, and buy in to its fundamentals, you will see the bigger picture straight off the bat rather than being handed individual pieces of the jigsaw by your doctor, nutritionist and personal trainer (and all in a reactionary fashion as a means of treating condition/syndrome/symptom 'x', 'y' or 'z'), with no real idea of how to fit them all together and no idea if you have all the pieces.

That is the thing about the paleo concept; sure it might lend itself to accusations of romanticism - but this approach drops you in to Paleo Ground Zero (PGZ). Try it; you will get good results and are unlikely to turn back to your former ways (I swear that you'll be mine!*).

Once at PGZ you should be engaging in sporting activity involving short bursts of speed with changes of direction, predominantly bodyweight strength training, some distance work carrying weight for time, and lots of walking. Food wise you will be eating lots of animal and some seasonal fruit and vegetables. Of course getting our doors to play and exercise (and barefoot/Vibramed), will be an obvious choice, as will the emphasis on sleep and limiting exposure to artificial light (for hormone-signalling reasons more than anything).

You don't have to limit yourself to just these things and you should be willing and able to flex both diet and exercise accordingly. But PGZ is a great place from which to start your experimentation.

And then in a few years time some scientist pick up another piece from YOUR jigsaw and proclaim its magical properties on physical and mental well-being.

* Queen - Seven Seas of Rhye.