Friday, 27 July 2012

Bit of Lifting

I missed "531 Wk2 W/O3" so will add in some deadlifting and handstands today with loads for the missing week.

1. Handstanding for time
2. Deadlift (3x110kg, 3x126kg, 3x142kg)

Spice Yourself Thin

Experiments in rodents show that the colder it is, the more energy they burn off as their body seeks to maintain body temperature.  There is intriguing evidence that spicy foods activate nerve receptors that trigger the same brain response as being cold does as reported by New Scientist,
  • Experiments in rodents have shown that the colder it is, the more energy they burn off in this way to produce heat.

    As babies, we also use this system to produce heat. But there is increasing evidence that many adults retain enough active brown fat, or adipose tissue, to do it too. [Investigator
    Andy Whittle at the University of Cambridge], reckons this process is controlled by the brain, which orders the extra burning of fat in brown adipose tissue when it gets cold.

    Recent research has revealed that spicy food - such as cinnamon or capsaicin in chilli peppers - can activate nerve receptors in the skin, gut and mouth, triggering the same brain response as being cold does.

    Whittle's colleague Maarten Soeters cites findings from Japan published this year showing that men with active brown adipose tissue burn more energy than normal when given capsules of capsinoid compounds, similar to capsaicin (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.111.018606).

    Now, Whittle is hoping to see if a mixture of ingredients like capsaicin can trick the brain into thinking it is cold, and coax brown adipose tissue into burning just a little more fat than normal, helping people to lose weight over years. He is keeping the exact ingredients secret for now.
I don't generally do spice (not since my vegetarian days), but it might be time to break out Dave's Insanity Sauce one again!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Government and YOUR Diet

Another interesting  bit from The Food Program.  All the usual suspects are here - 'nutritionism', saturated fat (and Denmark's Fat Tax), sugary drinks and so forth, all against the back drop of (bwa ha ha), voluntary codes of conduct implemented in the UK:
  • Can Health Secretary Andrew Lansley change Britain's bad eating habits? Sheila Dillon hears how the debate is shaping up on the "responsibility deals" aimed at changing our diet.
    With over 60 per cent of the British population now overweight or obese everyone agrees that change is needed in how we eat and what we eat. One part of the government's strategy involve so called responsibility deals, agreements with the food industry based around a series of pledges.
    A growing number of food manufacturers and retailers have signed up, pledging to reduce calories, remove salt and harmful trans-fats from food. But will it deliver a big enough change in the nation's diet?
    Sheila Dillon finds out how the Danish government has recently opted to place a tax on nutrients like saturated fat and sugar, meanwhile in New York City, mayor Michael Bloomberg has placed a ban on ingredients like trans-fats and is now placing restrictions on the size of soft drink portions.
    So, to tax, ban or adopt voluntary agreements on food? Sheila hears how the three different ideas are being developed.

Good listening. 


Just Eat Real Food....

...and you will likely eat at a calorific level commensurate with the evolved physiological trait of human daily energy expenditure!
  • Western lifestyles differ markedly from those of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, and these differences in diet and activity level are often implicated in the global obesity pandemic. However, few physiological data for hunter-gatherer populations are available to test these models of obesity. In this study, we used the doubly-labeled water method to measure total daily energy expenditure (kCal/day) in Hadza hunter-gatherers to test whether foragers expend more energy each day than their Western counterparts. As expected, physical activity level, PAL, was greater among Hadza foragers than among Westerners. Nonetheless, average daily energy expenditure of traditional Hadza foragers was no different than that of Westerners after controlling for body size. The metabolic cost of walking (kcal kg−1 m−1) and resting (kcal kg−1 s−1) were also similar among Hadza and Western groups. The similarity in metabolic rates across a broad range of cultures challenges current models of obesity suggesting that Western lifestyles lead to decreased energy expenditure. We hypothesize that human daily energy expenditure may be an evolved physiological trait largely independent of cultural differences.
From 'Hunter-Gatherer Energetics and Human Obesity'.

UPDATE:  This finding above is similar in conclusion to the following study:
  • TEE adjusted for weight and age or PAL did not differ significantly between developing and industrialized countries, which calls into question the role of energy expenditure in the cause of obesity at the population level.
Energy expenditure in adults living in developing compared with industrialized countries: a meta-analysis of doubly labeled water studies.

Never Leave the Playground*

Have you ever noticed how the same injury is diagnosed in various ways dependent on your age?  When you get injured as a youth the diagnosis is that "kids will be kids".  If you get injured in your middle years onward you are told you are "too old to do it/it's arthritis/you're getting on".  The underlying message is that you should slow down!

A similar thing happens when we express our natural desire to seek out novelty.  If you seek out novelty as a kid its the old 'kids will be kids' chestnut.  If you attempt to do new things after school age, your behaviour will be classified as either immature or, the older you are, a 'mid life crisis'.

People seem to forget that seeking out novelty is innate and the natural behaviour of a healthy organism.  Enrichment is fundamental to quality of life.  We are edge feeders.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Spontaneous Workout

The Truth About LookingYounger was basically a paleo diet - until such time as they can come up with cramming veggie antioxidants in to a pill.  Avoid the sun on your face (UVA Ages and UVB Burns), and be aware of the very strong correlation between sugar and wrinkles!

Although I've enjoyed respite from the awesomeness of 531, I dug out my bike and headed down to the local park for the following:

1. Muscle Ups (5, 5, 3/5)
2. Chins (12, 12, 12)
3. Handwalking (for time)
4. Planch Variations (25s, 25s, 25s)

I couldn't complete the last reps of the last set of MUs, the chins gassed me a bit as well.  Handwalking was a gas, but the teenagers on the mini-track stopped me from attempting handwalking over various ramps and other obstacles (something I've been inspired by since watching Unbeatable Banzuki).

Summer has recently come to the UK, so the last few days have been a blur of climbing, wildswimming, trampolining ("1, 2, 3, 4,  We Are Playing Pooh-Ball") and cycling with the kids.  Flash has discovered her cycling mojo and Captain Kid has recently taken to going off-road on her mountain-bike.  All good stuff.

Although I have to 'give-out' to them on occasion, they are great fun to be around.  I love how kids live in the here and now; never burdened by the past, nor by fear of the future.

I might deadlift on Friday and then rest.  We are off Glamping in Norfolk (living in a teepee), where we hope to do some sea-shore foraging.  I've also got my my eye on some wild swimming at one or two locations but will generally explore the area and see what turns up.  Should be fun.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Truth About Looking Younger

The Beeb's prolific output of 'The Truth About....' themed programs shows no sign of abating!  The latest installment is called 'The Truth About Looking Younger':
  • Plastic surgeon Dr Rozina Ali leaves the operating theatre behind for the frontiers of skin science and asks if it is possible to make your skin look younger without surgery.

    She discovers the latest research about how the foods we eat can protect our skin from damage, and how a chemical found in a squid's eye is at the forefront of a new sun protection cream.

    She also finds out how sugar in our blood can make us look older, and explores an exciting new science called glycobiology which promises a breakthrough in making us look younger.
This one interests me because of its apparent emphasis on food quality and aging.

BBC2 Horizon: Mon 23 Jul 2012 @21:00hrs.  Should be available on iPlayer.

Friday, 20 July 2012

531 Wk4 W/O3

Deadlift day!  Last day of this cycle.  I think I will repeat this cycle (although holiday will get in the way).  I am looking to use this routine to push volume through reps as follows; 5->8, 3->5, 1->3.  With DLs I will keep to a 531 template.  I need to perhaps try to work on strength for one more cycle and use RMS from an earlier cycle. 

The only other thing I want to do is to put in some exercise variation on occasion - bar MUs in particular.  Something for me to think about....but broadly I am happy with my routine atm.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (35 minutes)
1. Handstand (air squats + side lunges, front lunges + floor touches, front/side/turning kicks)
2. Manna Progression (three rounds for time)
3. Deadlift (5x63, 5x79, 5x95)
4. Wall Walk (3)
5. Backbridge (15s, 15s)

Shoulder Prehabilitation
6. External Shoulder Rotations (12)
7. External Shoulder Rotations (12)

8. 321 (8L, 8L, 8L)/Bouldering

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Truth About Sports Products

We've had  The Truth About Exercise and The Truth About Fat.  Well, tonight we had The Truth About Sports Products:
  • As many of us try to get fitter in this Olympic summer, Panorama investigates the sports products that promise to boost your performance. Are those pricey trainers worth the money? Can sports drinks really help you work out for longer? Are protein shakes any more effective at honing the physique than ordinary food?

    With exclusive access to the findings from a unique study by the British Medical Journal and Oxford University, reporter Shelley Jofre tests the science behind the bold advertising claims made by some of sport's biggest brands.

Follow the Money

Money pushes out other norms of behaviour, most recently evidenced by the phone hacking scandal in the British Media.  Money can't buy you love, but it does give you power (and if it doesn't give you power it is a surrogate for power).  Bankers, Pharma and Politicians have all fallen victim to this behavioural modification and as the Catholic Church has illustrated with such clarity, nothing will corrupt as much as a desire to protect power.

As the major pillars of our civilisation crumble around us, it should come as no surprise to find that the fitness industry is similarly devoid of integrity.  The Guardian today ran with the following story, 'Research pours cold water on alleged benefits of sports products':
  • "There is a striking lack of evidence to support the vast majority of sports-related products that make claims related to enhanced performance or recovery, including drinks, supplements and footwear," conclude researchers led by Dr Carl Heneghan of Oxford's centre for evidence-based medicine.
    Makers of sports drinks have succeeded in persuading people that they need to drink them, rather than water, and forged links with leading sports bodies in a bid to gain the public's trust and normalise their use, according to a joint BMJ-BBC investigation.

    Phrases such as "stay ahead of thirst", promotion of the "science of hydration" and advising sports enthusiasts to consume sports drinks before starting to exercise have helped create a global industry that forecasters Mintel estimated will be worth $1.6bn by 2016, they say.
The best line goes to Dr Colin Cable, the pharmaceutical science information officer at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society,
  • "However, for the vast majority of sporting participants, it is questionable whether any form of supplementation will be necessary, as a healthy balanced diet will provide their body's requirements for protein, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals,"
I hate to be a cynic, but where there are big profits to be made, wherever people have power, where there is a lack of transparency or where people don't have any skin in the game, don't expect individuals to escape such behaviours.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Bankers vs Big Pharma

Dr Briffa put up an excellent post about some of the recent illegal activites of Big Pharma here.  Illegal activites that affect peoples' health but for which no one has been brought to account. 

'This is Money' ran with the theme and made an interesting observation:
  • There has been much talk of late about the moral turpitude of bankers living in a bubble of their own. Many of the same complaints could be made about parts of the drugs industry, where executives claim that because they are in an international market place their pay has to be set at stratospheric levels.

    Yet little of the opprobrium that has attached to the bankers, and kept them out of the honours system since the 2008 crash, has been directed towards the pill factories’ top executives.


    The GSK and Roche cases show that UK drug companies have been less than prudent in seeking to make as much profit as possible in the shortest timeframe.
Read more at This is Money.

Myths About Your 5-A-Day

Dispatches (Channel 4). Available to watch now on 4OD.  A hit-and-miss program (the suffer from saturatedfatophobia) on a nutrition-basis, but one that does a good and job of showing how profit push out other norms of behaviour.  In this instance, putting various Food and Drink associations in charge of the DOHs '5-a-day' program has lead to baked beans, fruit bread and chocolate cookies qualifying as one of your '5-a-day':
  • Dispatches reveals how the crucial five-a-day message has been hijacked by the food industry and manufacturers use their own five-a-day labels on certain processed foods with high sugar, fat or salt content.One ready-meal bearing a 'one of your five-a-day' logo contained almost 8 grams of salt - more than is recommended for the entire day.And we uncover how the government is failing to curb the problem, leading to increased consumer confusion as to exactly what counts as part of our five-a-day under the original intentions of the scheme.When the campaign was first launched in 2002, the Department of Health specified that fresh produce as well as frozen, tinned, juiced and dried fruit and veg all constituted part of our five-a-day. But these were only guidelines.

    It also created an official logo which can only be displayed on foods that don't contain added salt, sugar or fat, but the food industry saw the advantages of promoting its products with a five-a-day message and started to create their own labels with no such restrictions.

    Simon Capewell, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology, University of Liverpool, says: 'The own brand fruit and veg logos that the different companies have made up are unregulated, they're unrestricted, it's complete open season out there.'
We've got to the stage where 'fractional' values apply - such that a manufacturer may claim that their product is 'half of one of your 5-a-day'. 

Use of 'half' in this case is ironic because that also happens to be the combined IQ of those who thought up this policy.

Baise Moi!

531 Wk4 W/O2

Final week in this cycle.  Last night's Lau Gar has left me a bit juiced - lots of sparring so the traps and shoulder are feeling particularly tired.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (35 minutes)
1. Handstand (air squats + side lunges, one legged floor touches + front lunges, front/side/turning kicks)
2. Pistols (5x31, 5x38, 5x46)
3. OACs (5x29, 5x36, 1x43)

Forearm and Wrist Prehabilitation
4. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (10)
5. Wrist Push Ups (10)
6. Reverse Wrist Curl (10)

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Learning to Use Fat

I was looking for more detail on Bradley Wiggins' diet and it seems that nutrition in cycling has undergone some quite dramatic changes in recent years.  One of the leading nutritionists is  Bob Seebohar.  I subsequently found this piece on PezCyclingNews called Cutting Edge Nutrition Strategies,
  • "According to Seebohar the process of actually changing your metabolic efficiency takes a couple of focused efforts. First you have to change your nutrition, then you have to change your training. The change in nutrition requires you to dramatically cut the starches and whole grain carbohydrate load in your diet. This is no small feat for endurance athletes and may require up to four or more weeks to accomplish. In addition to changing the total CHO load it is advised that the athlete change their CHO utilization prior to, and during training. In essence you want to avoid dumping a bunch of carbohydrate into your bloodstream in the hour before you start training. This will help manage the insulin response and allow your body to begin using fat more efficiently."

Paleo Diet for Wiggins?

History beckons for Bradley Wiggins.  Today he became the first Briton to wear the Yellow Jersey for the seventh day.  There is a great likelihood of him winning the Tour De France. 

The French are suspicious of British economics, British Food and British alcohol, but it seems they have a soft spot for our cyclists.  I wonder what they'd make of his diet?

The Sunday Times today reports that Wiggins has shed several kilograms in preparation for this year's Tour De France (being lighter helps in the moutain stages)! 

Wiggins (6ft 3in), has gone from the 82kg (180lb) he was when he won two golds at the Beijing Olympics, to just under 73kg today.  His training has gone from a 'peak power' emphasis to the 'maximum amount of power he can sustain over time'.

Nigel Mitchell, nutritionist with British Cycling looked to fuel Wiggins training but limited certain foods - as the Sunday Times reports,
  • "With Bradley we looked at the minimum amount of food he needed to do the training and get the recovery, but also looked at the structure of the food he was eating so there was no waste".
So we seem to looking at some form of calorie restriction.  The Sunday Times goes on,
  • "In layman's terms, there were no junk calories, so carbohydrates were restricted and white sugar was out."
Makes you wonder what foods would have constituted 'junk calories' in our evolutionary past. We can guess why we'd choose to engineer food that qualifies as 'junk calories'; profit. What I can't fathom is why anyone would want to eat such fare.

So what was 'in'?
  • "'It's not rocket science.' said Mitchell. 'It's simple stuff'.  On the Tour, Bradley will eat porridge in the morning or rice and an omelette.  On the bike he's taking in 60-90g of carbs per hour in rice cakes, energy gels or sports drinks.  The evening meal is carefully planned so there's protein for recovery and carbs for energy.'

    A rider's calorie intake on the Tour ranges from 4000 to 9000 calories per stage."
This is an approach that looks every bit compliant with The Paleo Diet for Athletes.

531 Wk4 W/O1

I think that the deadlifts on Friday took more out of me than I thought!  Not feeling that fresh for this morning's session.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (30 minutes).
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Planche Variations (25s, 25s, 25s)
3. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
4i. Rope Climb (1)
4ii. MU to Ring Routine (1, 1).
5. Scissor Splits (3x '2L, 2R, 2C')
6. Barefoot Weighted Kill Carry (1)
7. 321 (8L, 8L 8M)

Friday, 13 July 2012

531 Wk3 W/O3

Deadlift day!  Not looking forward to that 150!

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (35 minutes)
1. Handstand (air squats + side lunges, front lunges + floor touches, front/side/turning kicks)
2. Manna Progression (three rounds for time)
3. Deadlift (5x118, 3x134, 1+x150)
4. Wall Walk (3)
5. Backbridge (15s, 15s)

Shoulder Prehabilitation
6. External Shoulder Rotations (12)
7. External Shoulder Rotations (12)

8. 321 (8L, 8L, 8L)/Bouldering

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


The superlative Alex Hannold soloing Mt Watkins.  This guy is perhaps the coolest man on the planet.  His soloing exploits are legendary. Solo means 'no ropes' (although he does aid some of this route as you will see).  For a quick taster of the man's grace under pressure check out the following footage - and especially the foot-slip at 1:18!

For a bigger picture of what the man is capable of, check out his solo on Moonlight Buttress below.  It is hard to state how mind-blowingly scary this is - even to hardened 'trad' climbers (including guys like Dave Birkett - no stranger to the dangerous end of rock climbing). The climbing varies from E4 to E6 on occasionally sandy rock.  Fast forward to 6:25 and (please), keep watching...he reaches the crux at about 8:30 and it is terrifying:

Part two of this series shows Hannold soloing up Half Dome.  The climbing is technically easier (I believe), than Moonlight Buttress, but he has a 'moment' when he loses focus...the ledge he is standing on is a pretty horrific place to have to recover your 'mojo'. (Skip to about 8:20 to get to the start of the good bit):

Out there!

Guts: The Strange and Mysterious World of the Human Stomach

A heads up for viewers in the UK;  Guts: The Strange and Mysterious World of the Human Stomach on BBC Four at 21:00 BST on Thursday 12 July (or watch online afterwards via iPlayer):
  • Now, you might think that just reducing the size of the stomach would be enough to sort out Bob's problems, because the smaller the stomach the less you eat.

    But that does not seem to be what happens according to his surgeon, Mr Ahmed Ahmed, at London's Charing Cross Hospital.

    "The modern thinking is that by doing the surgery you're producing changes in various hormones, chemical messengers which affect hunger levels and fullness levels, which in turn cause the weight loss.

    "Bob's gastric bypass surgery separated off and isolated the part of his stomach which produces most ghrelin, a hormone which appears to play a key role in making you feel hungry."

    The hope was that this would result in a permanent fall in production of ghrelin. His new shrunken stomach was then attached further down his small intestine, to a section known as the ileum which secretes a different gut hormone, PYY, which is responsible for making you feel full.

    When we eat, it normally takes 20 minutes for food to get from the stomach to the ileum, causing the release of PYY and the message to the brain, "I'm full".

    That is why it is better to eat slowly, to give the stomach a chance to tell the brain you have had enough before you overeat.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Pathological Science

We have to make decisions - and often have to act with incomplete knowledge and limited information.  Stuff appears to work but when probed to scientific depth, we might not be able to explain exactly why - or rather our reasoning breaks down under reductionist pursuit.

Best to stick with the bigger picture if it leads to favourable outcomes (Devany's Fifth Law).  But it is also wise not to burden oneself with 'pathological science' as cautioned by Sam Kean in The Disappearing Spoon:
  • David Goldstein, a Cal Tech physicist, summed things up in an excellent essay on cold-fusion: "Because the Cold-Fusioners see themselves as a community under seige, there is little internal criticism. Experiments and theories tend to be accepted at face value, for fear of providing even more fuel for external critics, if anyone outside the group was bothering to listen. In these circumstances, crackpots flourish, making matters worse for those who believe that there is serious science going on here." It's hard to imagine a better, more conscise description of pathological science.

531 Wk3 W/O2

'Life' is getting in the way of things again.  It is hard to flow with it - but there is little choice at times.  The weekend involved some spontaneous and intense pull up work at the park with Flash and then Captain Kid hanging on to my legs.  I was surprised that I could not chin nor pull-up with them hanging on to me at the same time!  I was denied as I couldn't get my chin over the bar.

Oh well...

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (35 minutes)
1. Handstand (air squats + side lunges, one legged floor touches + front lunges, front/side/turning kicks)
2. Pistols (5x57, 3x65, 5/1+x73)
3. OACs (5x54, 3x61, 1+x68)

Forearm and Wrist Prehabilitation
4. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (12)
5. Wrist Push Ups (12)
6. Reverse Wrist Curl (12)

Sunday, 8 July 2012

531 Wk3 W/O1

I missed Friday's workout (deadlifting).  Kind of missed it, but standing in the mud watching The Stone Roses play Phoenix Park wasn't too bad an opportunity cost.

I spent some of yesterday bouldering in between the rain showers so no 321s or fingerboard work today.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (30 minutes).
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Planche Variations (25s, 25s, 25s)
3. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
4i. Rope Climb (1)
4ii. MU to Ring Routine (1, 1).
5. Scissor Splits (3x '2L, 2R, 2C') 
6. Weighted Barefoot Kill Carry (1)

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

531 Wk2 W/O2

I did some awesome (for me!), handstands last night.  One in particular hit over 20s.  My approach of doing less reps, increasing my rest and generally focusing on quality seems to be paying dividends.  I need to work on consistency so that all my handstands are of high quality.

I should point out that with the weights I use in Pistols and OACs below, I round up or down to whatever resolves to the weights available for the kit I am using.  With Pistols I can get to the nearest 2.5kg. 

With OACs it is to the nearest 5kg (unless I chose a smaller weight to pick up and hold in my spare hand).  So the numbers below should be considered as guidance only.

One other consideration; last week I was surprised not to add more reps to the last set of OACs.  But I am doing several warm up sets at the moment, which might have an impact.  I am also driving up and lowering with real intent, so each rep in general takes a little more out of me. 

I will be interested to see how today goes give that I kept something back from Sunday's workout.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (35 minutes)
1. Handstand (air squats, front/side lunges, one legged floor touches, front/side/turning kicks)
2. Pistols (3x54, 3x61, 3+x69)
3. OACs (3x50, 3x57, 3+x64)

Forearm and Wrist Prehabilitation
4. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (12)
5. Wrist Push Ups (12)
6. Reverse Wrist Curl (12)

Sunday, 1 July 2012

531 Wk2 W/O1

I was at a wedding last night and the alcohol mixed with hardcore Ceilidh dancing (Scottish) including the Rubik-like 'strip the willow', has left me feeling a big fragile this morning.  A stiff Full English and some gardening in blustery conditions has left me feeling a little better - sufficient to attempt the following workout.

I am stripping back on the volume a bit, given my Wendler emphasis two other days of the week.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (30 minutes).
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Planche Variations (25s, 25s, 25s)
3. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
4i. Rope Climb (1)
4ii. MU to Ring Routine (1, 1).
5. Scissor Splits (3x '2L, 2R, 2C')
6. Barefoot Kill Carry (1)
7. 321 (8L, 8L 8L)