Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Volume Week 4 W/O2

Shoulders feel a bit tired today, so I need to autoregulate.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (25 minutes).
1a. Pistols (8x17.5 assistance, 8x15 assistance, 8x12.5 assistance)
1b. Handstands (over 5-10 minutes)
2b L-Sit/Manna Variation (for time)
3a. OAC (4x62kg, 5x57kg)
3b. Backlever (5s, 5s, 5s)
4. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (12)
5. Two-Way DB Rotator Cuff (10 x external and internal shoulder rotations)
6. Wrist PUs from the Knee (12)

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Volume Week 4 W/O1

I need to refresh my workouts.  I've been planning a refresh for some time, but this has added impetus since reading Overcoming Gravity.  Unfortunately time is at a premium at the morning so I am just going to roll with what I have, not that my current routine is that bad.

Between family, work, an ever growing reading list and social engagements, notwithstanding Lau Gar and climbing interests, I do have to be flexible. I've got to keep Mrs A sweet as well - not an easy task ;)

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (30 minutes).
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
3. Planche Variations (25s, 25s, 25s)
4ai. Rope Climb (3)
4aii. MU to Ring Routine (3, 3, 3).
5. Scissor Splits (3x '2L, 2R, 2C')
6. Barefoot Kill Carry (1)
7. 321 (All 4 down the rung sizes)

Friday, 27 January 2012


"The only reason anyone is 'moderate' in matters of faith these days is that he has assimilated some of the fruits of the last two thousand years of human thought (democratic politics, scientific advancement on every front, concern for human rights, an end to cultural and geographic isolation, etc.).  The doors leading out of scriptural literalism do not open from the inside.  The moderation we see among nonfundamentalists is not some sign that faith itself has evolved; it is, rather, the product of the many hammer blows of modernity that have exposed certain tenets of faith to doubt.  Not the least among these developments has been the emergence of our tendency to value evidence and to be convinced by a proposition to the degree that there is evidence for it.  Even most fundamentalists live by the lights of reason in this regard; it is just that their minds seem to have been partitioned to accommodate the profligate truth claims of their faith."

Sam Harris 2006, The End of Faith, (p20-21)

Volume Week 3 W/O3

I see a renewed push for the CICO and ELDM approach.  Forget it.  CICO just restates the problem.  ELDM is vague and simplistic.  What is of importance is 'calories your body allows you to expend' versus 'the calories your body forces you to seek'. The solution is endogenous, not exogenous. Give your body appropriate nutrients, and respite from poison.  Allow your body's mechanisms that have evolved to stimulate you to be active (to seek/hunt), to express themselves.

Energy systems and energy flows within the human body are information rich. If we don't traverse the full range of energy systems through acute stress such as exercise, dietary variety and variance in energy flow, hormonal mechanisms and physiologic adaptions designed to respond favourably to activation of these energy pathways and energy flows become desensitised - they lose information which is crucial for informed adaption (and don't forget that the brain is plastic - which may have consequences when it comes to trying to 'unlearn' maladaption).

I've a three hour hill walk this evening so I cannot '321'.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (30 minutes).
1. Handstand work (10 mins)
2a. Chin Variations (Two Arm + 25kg x 8, +40kg x 4, Slow One-Arm Eccentric 1 x each arm)
2bi. Headstand RLLs (6, 6)
2bii. Deadlift (single 150kg)
2c. Manna (three rounds for time)
2di. Wall Walk (3, 3)
2dii. Backbridge 15s
3. Two-Way DB Rotator Cuff (12 x external and internal shoulder rotations)
4. Wrist Push Ups from the Knee (12)
5.  321 (8/8L, 8/8L, 8/8M)

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Meat Fail

100% this does not pass the PGZ test:
  • "Mironov is certain tissue-engineered meat will eventually be developed: "Of course there are people who think this is Frankenstein food. They see it as unnatural, but there is nothing unnatural here. We use animal cells and grow them in a cultured media. The only difference is that we don't kill any animals." The first-generation products are most likely to be chopped meat, with a long-term goal to grow muscle tissue. Potentially, any animal's muscle tissue could be grown through the in vitro process, as well as milk, cheese and eggs. So far all the meat "made" has been nearly colourless, tasteless and lacking texture. Scientists may have to add fat and even lab-grown blood and colourants."
Race to server up artificial chicken from The Guardian.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Pan-Fried Heart Attack

The rehabilitation of fat and the fry-up continues after decades of vilification!  A new study has just emerged titled 'Consumption of fried foods and risk of coronary heart disease: Spanish cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study':
  • Conclusion In Spain, a Mediterranean country where olive or sunflower oil is used for frying, the consumption of fried foods was not associated with coronary heart disease or with all cause mortality.  
Obviously correlation does not equal causation etc... but lets recognise what a step this is, given the 'heart attack in a pan' mantra that we've been hit with for the past forty years. 

Regulars will be aware of my own fondess for a fry up (check out The Doctor).  I try not to fry my foods at a temperature that causes the oil to smoke or spit (ie at as low a temperature as possible), and I also favor saturated fat (lard) for frying (or olive oil).  As for the bacon and sausages (Does Bacon Kill You?), I don't really worry about the link to cancer.  And whilst we are talking about the Big 'C' - that photo of The Doctor was taken on a hot, sunny day on which I sunbathed without sun-tan cream.  Crazy eh?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Volume Week 3 W/O2

Again with the gymnastic emphasis and prehabilitation.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (25 minutes).
1. Pistols (17.5/28kg assistance 68.5/56kg working weight: 8, 8, 8)
2a. Handstands (over 5-10 minutes)
2b L-Sit/Manna Variation (for time)
3a. OAC (4x56kg, 5x51kg)
3b. Backlever (5s, 5s, 5s)
4. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (12)
5. Two-Way DB Rotator Cuff (10 x external and internal shoulder rotations)
6. Wrist PUs from the Knee (12)

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Volume Week 3 W/O1

I've trimmed down my ring routine to focus primarily on a MU, STC, back lever (which I am lame at), and front lever.  (The primary gymanstic skill I am working on overall through the week is the planche.)

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (30 minutes).
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
3. Planche Variations (25s, 25s, 25s)
4ai. Rope Climb (3)
4aii. MU to Ring Routine (3, 3, 3).
5. Scissor Splits (3x '2L, 2R, 2C')
6. Barefoot Kill Carry (1)
7. 321 (All 4 down the rung sizes)

Friday, 20 January 2012

Overcoming Gravity

It seems books on strength are like buses.  Nothing for ages then several come along at once!  Chris Highcock's Hill Fit gives a solid program for fundamental strength gains aimed primarily at the hill walker and mountaineer but with wider application.  'Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength' by Steven Low targets a much more specialised audience:

Volume Week 2 W/O3

Deloaded to about 90%.  I am thinking of dropping the Deadlifts for some other bodyweight/gymnastic move - perhaps upping the planching and lever work instead to push progress on these moves.  I also want to develop my handstand.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (30 minutes).
1. Handstand work (10 mins)
2a. OACs (4x49kg, 5x44, 2-arm 10xBW in L-Sit)
2b. Headstand RLLs (5, 5, 5)
2c. Manna (three rounds for time)
2d. Wall Walk (2, 2, 2)
3. 3-Way Shoulder Prehab (12)
4. Reverse Wrist Curls (12)
5.  321 (8/8L, 8/8L, 8/8M)

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


I recently received a copy of Chris Highcock's Hill Fit.  For those that don't know, Chris Highcock runs the Conditioning Research blog - a hugely respected and popular fitness site pertaining to health, performance and fitness in general.

Chris has identified an obvious but much neglected niche in the armoury of the dedicated hillwalker and rambler; strength.  While most outdoor enthusiasts will pay attention to their primary hardware (gore-tex shell, fleece, footwear, rucksack, GPS etc....), few would consider strength to be important. 

In fact, short of running around the block a few times a week to improve 'cardio', few walkers I know would actually engage in serious strength work.  This is a mistake - something Chris makes a compelling case for in Hill Fit.

Chris takes you through the research and helps you put together a simple, short but effective routine that relies primarily on bodyweight and low-tech equipment (something which gets the Natural Messiah thumbs up!).  Easy and advanced variations are given for each exercise which you can work through, ensuring intensity is maintained as your strength progresses.

The book is 'focused on something that every walker, hiker and backpacker needs' and certainly, if you've never considered training for strength before heading to the hills, I'd recommend you get your hands on a copy.

Scale of the Universe

Excellent application here!

Volume Week 2 W/O2

I am focusing on handstands in a bid to improve my HSPU.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (20 minutes).
1. Pistols (35kg assistance: 8, 8, 8)
2a. Handstands (over 5-10 minutes)
2b L-Sit/Manna Variation (for time)

3. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (12)
4. 5-Way DB Rotator Cuff (10)
5. Reverse DB Wrist Curls (12)

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Volume Week 2 W/O1

Jeez - I've awoken to a very sharp frost.  Not looking forwards to barefooting...

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (30 minutes).
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x15s)
3ai. Rope Climb (2)
3aii. MU to Ring Routine (2, 2).
4a. Scissor Splits (3x '2L, 2R, 2C')
4b. Planche Variations (20s, 20s, 20s)
5. Barefoot Kill Carry (1)
6. 321 (All 4 down the rung sizes)

Friday, 13 January 2012

Volume Week 1 W/O3

Heavy day!  Deloaded.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (30 minutes).
1a. Deadlift (4x122, 5x110)
1b. OACs (4x40kg, 5x36, 2-arm 10xBW)
2. Back Bridge (15s, 15s)
3. Manna
4. 321 (Optional)

Wise Words

“The world today is made, it is powered by science; and for any man to abdicate an interest in science is to walk with open eyes towards slavery.” —J. Bronowski, Science and Human Values

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Speed Climbing

Can't say I've ever been taken with the notion of speed-climbing....until now!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Volume Week 1 W/O2

Behold - L-sits and manna vaiations are back on the menu!
Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (20 minutes).
1. Pistols (BW: 3, 3, 3)
2a. HSPU/Handstand(1, 1, 1)
2b L-Sit/Manna Variation
3. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (10)
4. 5-Way DB Rotator Cuff (10)
5. Wrist Press Ups (10)

Sunday, 8 January 2012


I am sure most people in the paleoshere are aware of the concept of neuroplasticity; the ability of your brain to change and adapt (both structurally and functionally) to various input in your environment.  In the UK a commonly cited example of this is in the brains of London cab-drivers who develop an evolved hippocampus as their knowledge of The Knowledge grows.  Other common examples are concerned with phantom limbs where the amputated limb can be stimulated aead of 'remapping' in the brain of those neurological parts formally accomodating the lost appendage.

In 'The Brain That Changes Itself', Norman Doidge looks in to the Brain Science behind neuroplasticity.  I am only half way through it but one paragraph leapt off the page to do with the work of Posit Science who are,
  • "...working on 'gross motor control'.  A function that declines as we age, leading to loss of balance, the tendency to fall, and difficulties with  mobility.  Aside from the failure of the vestibular processing, this decline is caused by the decrease in sensory feedback from our feet.  According to [Dr] Merzenich, shoes, worn for decades, limit the sensory feedback from our feet to our brain.  If we went barefoot, our brains would receive many different kinds of input as we went over uneven surfaces.  Shoes are a relatively flat platform that spreads out the stimuli, and the surfaces we walk on are increasingly artificial and perfectly flat.  This leads us to dedifferentiate the maps for the soles of our feet and limit how touch guides our foot control.  Then we may start to use canes, walkers, or crutches or rely on other senses to steady ourselves.  By resorting to these compensations instead of exercising our failing brain systems, we hasten their decline.

    As we age, we want to look down at our feet while walking down stairs or on slightly challenging terrain, because we're not getting much information from our feet.
I know this is cherry-picking, but it is great to see different disciplines tie an idea together from their respective angles.

I intend to blog a bit more about kinaesthetic awareness and neuroplasticity in general.  There seem to be a great many mental consequences to how you live your life and how you train in general.  It is easy to think that your mind is rather static, and compartmentalised.  But Doidge suggests it is highly plastic and adaptable - even in to old age.  More importantly, as with any other muscle in the body there is a 'use it or lose it' principle at work, but things go a bit further with the brain.

Unlike a muscle that will atrophy with a lack of use, brain function can be co-opted for processing of sensor input from other sources.

This is actually quite profound.  In the great Taubes vs Guyenet debate (and I continually find both of their arguments quite persuasive - lipodystrophy is one curious feature that make me think that a reward hypothesis is limited), we have to consider the dose and response of hormones, and how these are managed, and consequently how neuroplasticity might affect outcomes (and given that these maps repond to stimulus, you have to wonder what the neural implication is of seldom if ever draining muscle glycogen stores - could this be the real value of exercise on bodyfat levels rather than the idea that we simply exercise to 'burn fat').  Sure we know quite a bit about sensitivity to ghrelin, insulin etc... - thresholds can change over time, but throw in the fact that measures and triggers themselves might also be subject to a loss of control as brain function is co-opted or neural maps maladapt, it is no surprise that fat loss is such a contentious subject.

UPDATE: I blogged earlier about how thoughts can manifest in physical behaviour over VERY short timescales, which you can read about here.

Volume Week 1 W/O1

I've picked up a cold in the last day or two so I have to take it easy tonight. As usual I am going to have a week or two deloaded, and then ramp it up for a six week period or so...chucking in some 'instinctive adjustment' and all.
I also seem to have sustained wrist injury that hurts when I'm in a press-up position. I am not sure what I am doing that is aggravating it. It could be planching so I will have to adjust the positioning and experiment.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (30 minutes).
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
3ai. Rope Climb (1)
3aii. MU to Ring Routine (1, 1).
3b. Scissor Splits (3L, 3R, 3C)
3c. Planche (20s, 20s, 20s)
4. 321 (All 4 down the rung sizes)
5. Barefoot Kill Carry

Friday, 6 January 2012

Rehab workout.

I'm doing this workout mainly for the rehab side of things. My right wrist has developed a twinge (no laughing at the back). Might be from planching.

Training 'proper' will commence next week.
Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (20 minutes).
1. Pistols (20kg assistance/64kg working weight: 8, 8, 8)
2. HSPU (as many as I can over three sets)
3. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (12)
4. 5-Way DB Rotator Cuff (10)
5. Reverse DB Wrist Curls (12)

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Fat, Fate and Disease

New for 2012, Fat Fate And Disease by Peter Gluckman and Mark Hanson.

  • 'Why are we losing the war against obesity and chronic disease?' This is the simple question Peter Gluckman and Mark Hanson ask, exploring the dominant myth that the exploding epidemic of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes can be tackled by focusing on adult life styles. Addressing the flawed approach of the weight-loss industry, they explain why a continued focus simply on diet and exercise will fail. Highlighting the implications of the growing burden of these problems in the developing world, they show that the scientific enterprise ignores the reality of the social, cultural, and biological determinants that make different populations and people respond differently to living in the modern nutritionally rich world. Gluckman and Hanson review the overwhelming scientific evidence that much of the problem emerges in early life and even before birth, identifying that to address these issues requires considering development in two dimensions - a life course approach and addressing the developmental challenges of countries emerging through the socioeconomic transition. Asking why the major global bodies and vested interests fail to consider these dimensions and continue with failed approaches, they conclude by discussing the complex interactions between health and the food industry, and suggest that the food industry must be co-opted as an ally in this battle, providing a clear pathway forward.
Looks interesting....

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Anti-Gravity Insanity

I am not really a petrolhead.  I like gravity sports and games; those that rely on propulsion from the human engine and/or gravity, with the addition of a few simple tools (bike, canopy, rock boots etc...).  But I do make the odd exception.

Behold Levi LaVelle and Robbie Maddison in a truly FM moment:

Lazy Weight Loss

At this time of year we get the usual 'eat less, do more' message.  This may work short-term.  Whether it leads to sustainable weight loss is another question.  At best it seems to be simplistic and at worst it is the very thing we'd recommend to compel ourselves to eat more.

New Scientist has a nice little article on weight loss (Eight lazy ways to lose weight), which highlights several ways in which weight change has been observed without calorie counting and chronic cardio, through:
  1. Vaccination
  2. Stress Reduction
  3. Cold Exposure
  4. High Protein
  5. Packaging and Endocrine Disruption
  6. Circadian Rhythm and Blue Light
  7. Air Pollution
  8. Sleep
We paleotards will be familiar with all of the above.


Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Warm Up Workout

Just easing myself in to 2012!

Warm Up (15 minutes)
Main (25 minutes).
1. Sprints (5 x sprint, 1 min rest btw)
2a. Snatch Grip Deadlift off a Deficit (5x5xBW)
2b. Chins (10, 5, 5, 5, 5)

The SGDLs and Chins were interleaved with one min rest between each exercise.  Man this one was tough - even though I was trying to go light.  I simply stopped as soon as it got awkward.

Gotta say that my inner thighs and butt are aching now.  The sprints are the only thing that felt good and breezy.

Weight is 86kg (plus a bit), and general hustle is at best 'modest'.  Not feeling strong and ripped.  Motivation is high.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Hitchens on War

I've just finished Christopher Hitchens excellent memoir, Hitch 22.  He seems to divide people in equal measure, but whatever you think of his political persuasion, Christopher had a certain gravitas that is rare amongst public speakers and almost absent among politicians.  His command of the English language coupled with a sharp wit, logical mind, broad knowledge of literature, and experience from the world's trouble-spots made him an accomplished journalist and raconteur.  He was an engaging and forthright speaker and fearless in defence of his opinions.

One point in Hitch 22 that particularly jumped out at me (and which is something that I had long suspected but have never seen any public figure actually tackle), is the damaging conceit afforded to those leading 'resistance' campaigns around the world,
  • "The local leaderships that are generated by the troubles in such places [as Lebanon, Gaza, Cyprus, NI and several other 'hot spots'], do not want there to be a solution.  A solution would mean that they were no longer deferred to by visiting UN or American mediators, no longer invited to ritzy high-profile international conferences, no longer treated with deference by the mass media, and no longer able to make a second living by smuggling and protection-racketeering.  The power of this parasitic class was what protracted the fighting in Northern Ireland for years and years after it had become obvious to all that nobody (except the racketeers) could 'win'.  And when it was over, far to many of the racketeers became profiteers of the 'peace process' as well."
As Orwell wrote, some animals are truly 'more equal' than others. 

Hitchens goes a long way to explain his move from the left (he was a Marxist in his youth), but it would be too simplistic to suggest he simply lurched to the right.  His Marxism was fuelled by an anti-fascist instinct - an instinct that lead him to support the war in Iraq.  He didn't really move from the Left, it is just that the Left became impotent.

It is at this point in the book that Hitchens takes a brief detour to document the life of Mark Jennings Daily - someone with similar instincts to Hitchens and in part motivated by him.  This story in the LA Times gives a background to Daily and Hitchens' influence upon him.  I can't really do it justice here, but both Daily's actions to fight for what was morally right, and Hitchen's actions in taking time to honour Daily (in both word and deed), makes for moving reading.  There is a you tube video here in which Hitchens narrates the relevant extract.