Friday, 29 July 2011

Strength Phase1 W/O3

I have to suck and see the initial weights, particularly on the SGDLoaD. LGKB was VERY intense this week so might need to autoregulate a wee bit as well!

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (40 minutes).
1. DE Snatch-Grip Deadlift Off a Deficit (2x57kg, 6 sets)
2. ME HSPU (1, 6 sets)
3. Kneeling Wrist Push Ups (10)
4. Five-Way DB Rotator Cuff (10 reps each way)

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Our Ancestors Had It Right

I am a big fan of black pudding and have just made my 25th blood donation.  The ever useful PaleoHacks site brought both of these to mind, featuring this letter by William J. Rowe, MD sent to The American J. Cardiology 86:256, 2000:
  • The absorption of just the right amount of iron through the intestine (duodendum) might have provided significant cardiovascular advantages to early man, the Masai of today, and conceivably has been advantageous to an extraordinary urban athlete. Excess iron may be more detrimental than iron deficiency, because high iron levels can lead to the formation of highly reactive hydroxyl radicals and lipid peroxidation, conducive to early atherosclerosis. Furthermore, there must be enough protein in the diet to sequester iron.(1)

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Double Meteor Shower

A heads-up for another celestial spectacular that should both feed your mind and grow your soul!  The following is courtesy of National Geographic:
  • A celestial traffic jam may be on tap this week as two meteor showers combine forces to put on a brilliant sky show.

    One of the best shooting star events of the year is the annual August Perseid meteor shower. However this year's peak, on August 12, happens to coincide with a bright full moon—drastically cutting down the number of meteors visible to the naked eye.

    Yet while the main event might be blocked out by the blinding moonlight, the opening act promises to be much better.

    This year the lesser known Delta Aquarid meteor shower is expected to peak on Friday night, when the Delta Aquarids' more productive Perseid cousin is just starting to ramp up.

    Together the showers will produce anywhere between 15 and 30 shooting stars per hour under clear, dark skies.
If Mrs A allows it, I hope to wake Flash and Captain Kid up to enjoy this spectacle!

Strength Phase1 W/O2

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (40 minutes).
1. ME Deadlift (140 - 150kg, 6 sets)
2. ME Weighted Chins (60 - 65kg for 6 sets)
3. DE DB Press (2x12kg for 6 sets)
4. Wall Walk (2, 2, 2)
5. Reverse DB Wrist Curls (10, 10)

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Nutraceuticals: Plant Sterols

Plant sterols - great things eh?  I mean they lower cholesterol so they have just got to be good right?  Ignore the massive mark-up afforded the manufacturer for a minute and trust that the guys who manufacture and market this stuff have your interests at heart!  Call me a cynic but I am VERY unhappy at mass medicalisation of our lifestyle - from flouride in our water to various additives to our (processed) food.  It is hard to avoid all processed food, but there is one branch of processed food I try to give a wide berth...
  • "The range of industries rushing to cash in on these cholesterol-lowering additives exposes the catch in this pharmocological approach to food of course.  We are told that sterols and stanols are as effective as, if not more effective than, drugs, but compounds as potent as this are usually administered under the supervision of a doctor in controlled doses , for good reason.  Who will monitor the levels of those vitamins that sterols appear to compromise in the consumer who assumes that more might be better, and so buys sterols with everything?  Who has checked what the long-term effects of blocking absorption of cholesterol are?"
The above was taken from Felicity Lawrence's 'Eat Your Heart Out'.  The particular chapter from which I drew the quote above suggests that plant sterols are likely to manifest in a whole range of foods in the near future - from Coca Cola to baked goods and trail bars. 

Remember my caution to avoid food that can easily change its nutritional stripes, reflecting the nutritional fad of the moment?  Well it seems the margarine is no the only mainstream food-chameleon we have to worry about. 

The chapter finishes with this rather enlightened quote from Professor Michael Crawford "You abandon evolutionary nutritional principles at your peril".

Amen to that.

Strength Phase1 W/O1

I have had the best part of two weeks off from all lifting.  Last weekend I completed the Trans Pennine Coast to Coast (which I intend to write up, but which did not contain any paleo-pimped angle, unlike my Welsh excursion last year).  Three days of cycling exacted a price on my thighs, butt and the fingers of my left hand (feels like vibration white finger in the ring and pinkie, possibly due to compression of the ulnar nerve on the handlebars).  Still, it was damn good fun!

But back to the lifting to reach my 160kg DL again (and then some).  So here goes....

I have added in and extended some specific elbow work to prevent the problem I had previously with my OAC. I also still want to keep work sets under 45 minutes.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (40 minutes).
1. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
2. DE Fast MU to Ring Routine (1x1, 1x1, 1x1)
3. Stairgators (1x1, 1x1, 1x1)
4. Scissor Splits (2, 2, 2)
5. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (10, 10)
6. Barefoot Kill Carry (1)
7. 321 (All 4, Frnt 3, Back 3)

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Another Spontaneous Workout

Singles up to max (but not RM)

1. Deadlift (150kg+ )
2. Weighted Chins (55kg+ )
3. Dumbell Press (22.5kg)

The two 150kg+ DLs were tough on the grip.  I need to up the volume and work on that finger strength.  The chins were steady up to 55kg.  I tried 65kg and nearly closed it out, but not quite.  I was then fighting for weights (the gym was busy and space and iron was at a premium).  Having dispensed with the 15kg weight, I could only find a 5kg 'biscuit' to add on to my belt.

Nice little session.  I am enjoying these simple workouts.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Climbing Workout

Another quick workout, grabbed at the end of the day.  Flash trained with me which added rather a lot in terms of variety and spontaneity.  The basic workout was three of each of the following:

1. Sprints
2. 4xMU to Ring Routine
3. Fingerboard

I have a big epic coming up this weekend (a three day cycling event, so I will write that up).  I am toying with fasting and only eating once a day.  Not sure yet...

Trans Fats

The ever-wonderful Radio 4 delivers the goods once again.  This weeks episode of The Food Program investigates hydrogenated fats:
  • Sheila Dillon investigates the issue of trans-fats in our food, and asks whether a voluntary agreement by the food industry to eliminate them by the end of the year is enough to prevent the kind of health problems associated with a diet heavy in industrial cooking fats.

The program makes no bones about the problems of allowing the food industry to 'self regulate'.  It is available to listen again here.

Business at the most capitalist end of the spectrum, pushes the profit margin by exploiting regulation and costs at their leanest.  Profit is internalised and the cost is externalised.  Despite what ANY advertisting says, know this.

The program's website offers up an interesting link to The Food and Behaviour Research organisation:
  • Nutrition can play an important role in the prevention and management of many kinds of difficulties in behaviour, learning and mood. These include:

    •Everyday difficulties in behaviour, learning or mood that can affect children and adults - at home, at school or in the workplace.
    •Developmental conditions - such as ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and autistic spectrum disorders. •Mental health conditions - such as anxiety, depression, bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder and schizophrenia.

    Diet is important not only for physical health, but also for optimal mental development and functioning. Scientific evidence shows this, but clear and reliable information on this kind of research is not easily available to many people who are interested in its practical applications.

    As well as our own published papers and factsheets, we regularly trawl through the scientific press to bring you the latest information on the subject of nutrition and behavioural disorders. In some cases, these resources will link to information held on other websites, and in others, they will offer information to download in pdf format. If the resource is a book, we will give you a link directly to Amazon for you to purchase it directly.

Thursday, 7 July 2011


Wise Words

Jerry Coyne "...true harmony between science and religion requires either doing away with most people's religion and replacing it with a watered-down deism, or polluting science with unnecessary, untestable, and unreasonable spiritual claims."

Robin Ince: "After death, we're totally recyclable & there are no different bins. That's spirituality."

Fat Regain

An interesting segment on the SciFri site (available as a podcast) titled 'When Packing On Pounds, Location Counts':
  • It's not just the quantity of body fat that affects health--it's where the fat settles, too. Ira Flatow and guests discuss research that suggests belly fat poses the biggest risk for patients with heart disease, and why fat sucked from the thighs and hips tends to reappear shortly after on the waistline.
Highlights include:
  • Evidence that lipsouction leads to fat regain within a few years to the same level as before!
  • Fat may be removed from waist and thighs, but comes back above waist only. This presents the idea that maybe it cannot form back in thighs due to cell destruction?
  • A further idea discussed is that fat is metabolically active and informs the brain. When fat cells are removed, a source of information/signalling to the brain is lost. Cells cannot signal 'we are full' so the brain drives further 'fat storage'.
  • The obesity paradox (Higher BMI reduces risk of CHD). Note: whenever someone appends the word 'paradox' to matters of diet/nutrition, be sure that the hypothesis on which this is based is simply wrong!
  • Fat influencing menstrual cycle and early puberty.
  • Robert Eckel (Past President, American Heart Association and Professor, Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine) is disparaging about the idea of a body fat set point. He disagrees with the concept, but fails to consider it might be dynamic, depending on environmental/hormonal cues.
Some of the comments found my favour!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Cancer and Baked Goods

On a day we discover that 'Processed Meats Declared Too Dangerous for Human Consumption' (a subject ably covered by David Calqhoun), it is worth mentioning that food dangers are not confined to the flesh.

I first mentioned acrylamide back in 2008Wiki elaborates on this carcinogen,
  • Acrylamide...occurs in many cooked starchy foods and is of concern as a possible carcinogen. Acrylamide was accidentally discovered in foods in April 2002 by scientists in Sweden when they found the chemical in starchy foods, such as potato chips, French fries, and bread that had been heated (production of acrylamide in the heating process was shown to be temperature-dependent).  It was not found in food that had been boiled or in foods that were not heated.

More Deadlifting...

Another quick workout:

1) Snatch Grip Deadlift with a Deficit (5x5@70kg)
2) OAC (3x5@55kg)
3) Medicine Ball Throws.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Quick Climbing Workout

I am still in the thick of it, so am having to squeeze workouts in here and there.  I am trying to 'apply' physicality rather than train to improve it - so I have had a few climbing sessions and plenty of 'paly' with the kids.

The lack of 'formal' workouts has been something quite beneficial.  I tried some handstands yesterday and did a couple of solid ones for 20 seconds.  Very happy.  Today I did some MUs and a fingerboard routine.  Whilst my fingers were seemingly weaker, the 3x3 MUs I did prior to each ring routine where easy.  reckon I could have gone for 3x5 or 5x3.  Shoulders feel good and strong.

Just as 'optimal nutrition' is a moving target, so is optimal exercise.  I like to keep my body guessing, keep it simple, but add in novelty based on mostly functional exercises (why curl when you can chin?).  I am mindful of overuse injuries (particularly with elbows and shoulders), but also a need to be specific enough to get an improvement on that exercise.  I have some ideas I will be implementing around this....once my life settles down a bit in a couple of weeks' time!