Sunday, 28 December 2008

Zooropa

Just before Christmas the BBC reported that Elephants 'Die Earlier in Zoos'. Now this should reach deep in to your consciousness and give you a good shake as the researchers involved in this story found that:

1) obesity is a major cause of death,
2) they also cite stress as the key factor in the death of young captive animals

Khyune Mar from the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at Sheffield University noted the following:
  • "[Zoo elephants] have a very monotonous lifestyle, every day is the same for [them], they have to live in the same compound, with limited roaming, this makes them more stressed,"

A member of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) was quoted as saying 'diet and lifestyle are the key factors influencing elephant lifespan in zoos'. Now I don't want to state the obvious - but does this scenario ring any bells yet? An obese population, chronic stress, early death?

Dr Mar went on to draw parallels with working elephants who enjoy greater health and longevity:

  • "We keep working elephants in the workforce for no more than six to eight hours a day. For the remaining hours we let them loose in the forest, they live like wild elephants, they can meet and mate with wild elephants, they have a full elephant life, good exercise and good food"

I am no elephant expert and don't want to draw too many parallels between elephants and humans, but this story has brought a smile on my face.

The underlying message here is that of following innate behaviours and especially the 'seeking out of novelty'. Now as usual, I am sure many of us would disagree on what constitutes 'good food' and 'good exercise'. I feel that whilst Dr Mar would classify good exercise as that prescribed by 'life in the wild' - as would, I am sure that the good doctor would NOT go so far as to state that good foods are also those prescribed by life in the wild. (I would actually like to challenge the doctor on this).

For those who do no exercise, or follow some heavily-blanded gym routine (including everything from 'classic' weight routines to spinning and jogging), and those who eat junk food (the traditional kind and the 'health food' kind of junk food), this is your wake up call.....!

I have read before that the brains of wild animals weigh more than their domesticated cousins. I have also seen animals looking hopelessly glassy-eyed in zoo enclosures. In 2009, I for one will try to limit work to eight hours - after which I will let myself loose in the forest!

Friday, 26 December 2008

Bettystown Swim

So today I did my annual 'Bettystown Swim'. Bettystown is just north of Dublin and home to probably the shallowest sea ever!

The beach was busy with walkers (all wrapped up), taking in a 'constitutional' after 24 hours of excess. It was VERY cold getting out of the car. I walked as close to the sea as I could and then stripped off to my shorts (no wet suit,naturally!).

I then began sprinting in to the sea. And I kept sprinting. After 100m my knees were barely in the sea so I had to keep going. Eventually it became waist deep and so I went for a dive under.

I could eventually feel a numbness setting in to my feet after a few minutes, but really, I was surprised at how 'OK' it felt. After two years of cold showers I think my body has adapted well to working in the cold. A few minutes was enough - and out I came.

Whilst on the beach Captain Kid was scared of crabs and sand worm tracks. Flash was amused be her Dad's behaviour as much as the surf - but we all returned to the warmth of the car with colour in our cheeks and feeling better for the fresh air.

I am looking forwards to next year.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

The Ground of Artes

What is the least you can do each week? What are the most functional exercises? What are the most basic activities you could or should perform? What exercise gives you most bang for your buck?

Such question often flow through my mind. Sometimes I go off route with my training. I devise all manner of routines and am guilty of trying to achieve too much at once.

I am seeing growing evidence of beneficial cross training effects - most recently my handstands have improved without practice. What I had been doing was a lot of kneeling to headstand leg raises which unexpectedly led to my suddenly finding that my handstands moved up a gear. Similarly a lay off from planches earlier this year led to some PBs when I went back to them.

To cut a long story short, I need variety and novelty. I want to be a generalist, but I deep down I want to be a generally good specialist! I keep in mind my paleo compass - so when I do get side-tracked by curling (rarely) or deadlifts (occasional), I can promptly get myself back on course.

To this end I have begun to distill my exercise list down to a handful that I perform at least once every week, and which I supplement with more specialist exercises. Here then are my choice of the most important, fundamental and beneficial exercises.

1) Paleo Exercises
Here is my choice of the four greatest and best and most excellent exercises!

Sprinting
This is THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL, FUNCTIONAL AND IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR TRAINING! It is never 'big beats the small', it is the 'quick that beat the slow'.

In my opinion you should (and indeed must), sprint at least four times a week (on separate days). This might comprise of one or two formal sprinting 'sessions'. For the remainder you might only perform a quick 10s sprint or sprint as part of a game of football or 'chase' with the kids. But make sure you open your after-burners and give it full-throttle with a degree of regularity.

Muscle Up (MU)
There are only a few times in my life where I have sat back and thought "Fuck me!". You know those moments when you just cannot believe what you are seeing. I was taking part in an assault course and there were a few gym rats there. The were big. Very big. Decorated even. The could lift some heavy weights - particularly in the bench press and squat. Could they get over 9ft wall unassisted? Nope. Could they perform several proper pull ups (palms out, from straight arm to 'neck above the bar')? Nope.

If you cannot lift your own body weight with a degree of comfort, it is too heavy or you are too weak (or a combination).The muscle up provides a way or rapidly propelling yourself upwards through trees. It has the advantage or comprising a pull and a push that works most of the muscles in the arms, shoulders and back. You get a gold medal for nailing the muscle up, but if you can only do a pull up and get stuck at the 'transition', close but no cigar!

I would say that one Muscle Up is the benchmark paleo strength test. I rarely do pull ups due to my climbing activities, but I always do muscle ups on a weekly basis. Chins (palms in) don't count for nothing!

I would add rope climbing to this category, as you can also work your pressing strength as long as you reach high up the rope as you climb. In fact you can also 'lock-off' with one arm between each grab. Full marks if you DON'T use your legs - and maintain them in an L-Sit position.

Kill Carry
I am sure there are many of us that have read of the benefits of deadlifting. Lifting a heavy weight from the ground is a fundamental exercise that engages and trains a whole chain of muscles. From a paleo point of view, I can't help thinking that this exercise is a wee bit pointless. I really cannot think of an event where you would be called upon to do this. When was the last time you needed to lift a very heavy weight a few feet off the ground for a few seconds? Sure it targets a load of muscles and if you want a quick workout, it ticks the boxes, but it lacks functionality.

However, think of lifting a big weight and carrying it - I can come up with a few scenarios such as carrying a carcass back to camp, or moving to a new camp.

My favoured position is weight I can carry on my shoulder (I use a heavy duty punch bag). Option B is carrying my youngest around in a papoose but really, an asymmetric shoulder-load has a paleo edge over a Berghaus rucksack - no matter how heavy the rucksack. In fact with a shouldered load, you have to continually use your arms and torso to control the load thus targetting deep core muscles.

No only do Kill Carries target a chain of muscles but can also be adapted for added functionality. Thus you can accentuate speed (move faster) or endurance (go for longer), or add weight for test of strength.

Throwing
I was going to suggest a 'Press Above Head from Floor' as my final exercise of choice, but in many ways, a well chosen object launched at speed will target much the same muscles - legs, core and shoulders. In addition, throwing has greater utility - think spear-work in an attempt to kill an animal or rock throwing as a form of defence.

My personal choice here is Medicine Ball Throws (MBT), which I perform one arm at a time. For variation I will either chose a heavier medicine ball and concentrate on control of the negative phase of the exercise (catching the ball one handed), or chose a lighter ball and emphasise explosive throwing on the positive phase of the exercise ( again, catching the ball one handed).

I will shoe-horn and One-Arm Snatch from the Floor in to this section as it does fit mechanically in to this section (ish), but MBT feel way more Paleo! Lifting a weight from the floor to an overhead position is the epitome of chain-strength throughout the body. Remember to keep your form with your back straight and driving with the legs.

2) Play Exercises
So having identified THE fundamental paleo exercises, I will now list further exercises which are drawn from the concept of play.

Next summer head down the park. In amongst the free-play you will see amongst the kids, when given an open space and only their imagination to play with and you will witness role-play, chasing games and more importantly cartwheels, handstands and back bridges (unless you are in an Australian school). Of these exercises handstands and backbridges really interest me as they offer rich functionality to our bodies.

Handstands
Where do I start with these? They really work your shoulders. With practice you can hold them still and work your core. Or, walk around on your hands and feel the hit on the complete shoulder girdle. With time you should be able to perform a handstand press up (HSPU) which will give you an almost complete upper body workout.

Handstands and their associated variations epitomise philosophy and value of bodyweight exercising without any equipment (event he pull up needs a bar!). In two words, handstands are 'The Daddy'.

Backbridges
What I mean here is a Back Limber and a Front Limber. Limbers work your core and encourage spinal flexibility. I see so many kids doing these kinds of moves at my park last summer it really made me determined to re-master such a skill.

There are variations such as 'Kneel Backs' (where you lie on the ground with your knees touching and your toes pointing behind you. Your feet/heels should be outside of your buttocks. Now lean back. You should feel a warm stretching sensation along your thighs. You should be able to lean all the way back so your back comfortably rests on the floor.)

Other variations are standard back bridges which can be made easier by having your feet on a platform. Once happy with this position, you can then do Wall Walks where you back bridge with your hands close to a wall and then walk your hands up the wall until you are standing upright. You can also reverse this latter move.

Experts can go on to perform a 'limber'. Get yourself to GymnasticBodies.com for further details.

3) Other Exercises
One of the keys to paleo living is to develop strength through a more general paleo-centric behaviours. For me, three activities stand out.

Climbing
Climbing is highly specialised now, but with its general development of upper body strength I would sincerely recommend it to anyone as an integrated way of developing strength in the back arms and shoulders. Climbing would have been a fundamental skill on the plains of Africa.

A tree would have provided an optimal defensive position amongst other apex killers! You certainly wouldn't have tried to out run a lion and a spear is useless against a pack animal, particularly if you are on the ground. Much better to head upwards...!

Martial Arts
I personally think that combat would have been a familiar ingredient in paleo life. Fighting for women, territory and resources (has anything changed?). Both striking arts and wrestling (including things like Judo) will fit the mould.

Training, particularly with arts like kickboxing, involve intense shorts bursts of activity followed by rest. This is a classic paleo activity profile and one that should filter through in to your training mentality.

One minute front-kicking a kick-shield will break you, especially when your pad-man starts walking towards you! If you ever get the chance to train with a boxer, you will truly see what fatigue means. The fighting arts can milk every part of your body.

Gymnastics: The Planche and the Lever
The planche and lever are totally UN-PALEO. I cannot possible shoe-horn them in to the paleo-training model. But if there were two exercises that I would advise anyone to perform other than the four at the top of this post, these would be them.

The planch and lever engage just about every muscle in the body. They both offer several progressions and variations meaning they are two exercises from which you can make continual gains. You can even integrate them with the exercises above (planche to handstand or Muscle Up to a ring routine involving levers).

Conclusion
So there you go. These are my paleo staples. If you do the paleo and play exercises at least once a week, you will indeed develop your paleo-athletic qualities. The 'other sports' I suggest will similarly develop your athleticism. Any comments, thoughts and insults will be gratefully received.

I hope to post up some routine ideas in the new year and show how I integrate these ideas/concepts in to my training.

I should point out that I will undoubtedly fall off the paleo cart over the coming weeks. In fact the cart will be rolled on its roof and torched! However, on Christmas Day I will go for a paleo-dip in the Irish Sea (no wetsuit). And, I will try to get out and perform one or two sprints, planches and a few handstands.

I am happy to kick back a bit as I know it will refresh my hunger for 2009!

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to one and all!

Asclepius

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Fat Kids

Here is a story I just have to bring to your attention. Obesity in kids is 'set' before the age of five and according to Lead researcher Professor Terry Wilkin, of the Peninsula Medical School, Plymouth,
  • "What is causing it is very difficult to know."
The article notes that "...there must be a factor now that was not there 25 years ago which is making today's children obese." He is getting warmer....we live in a low-fat and high (refined) carbohydrate environment now. There is definitely more refined carbohydrate and other processed foodstuffs like HFCS in our diets now.

With no development of this idea he falls back on the traditional line,
  • "It is entirely possible that the calorie density of food and portion sizes could be higher."
Unless he gets a copy of 'Good Calories, Bad Calories' in his stocking this Christmas, there a lot of kids out there who will be looking at a low fat, complex carb and fat future of failure.

As a paleo eater who chows down without restriction on lots of fat, meat and vegetables and takes part in only episodic strenuous exercise, I can only imagine how hard the future of these kids will be. They will be encouraged to eat a lot less than me, and probably be forced to do more.

Crackers.

Three Free Books

Like many paleo-types I am a polymath with an inclination towards autodidacticism. To put it another way I find loads of stuff interesting and 'devour' books and other media to 'bone-up' on whichever subject is currently floating my boat. (I suppose this could be a symptom of ADHT butI guess I will diagnose that when I read a book about it)

To tackle the pulling apart of studies I have a number of sources to hand. Ben Goldacre's Bad Science has been the significant find this year. In addition, Michael Eades can always be relied upon to give a superlative dissection of any paper that crosses his path (his current blog on 'Making Worthless Data Confess' exemplifies both his intellect and humour). In the same breath I will also mention Dr Briffa who also offers scalpal like precision when it comes to cutting through the BS surround diet and nutrition research.

I posted a while back here about a free online book called Testing Treatments which shines a light on to medical research. It is very accessible and worth a read. I have since found three other books which are similarly worthy reads. The are available from Trinity College Dublin and cover subjects that will resonate with paleo types:
  1. Death of Humane Medicine
  2. False Premises, False Promises
  3. Follies and Fallacies in Medicine
After reading this selection, you will be suitably armed to identify medical humbug! Read and enjoy!

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Noetic License

There is something noetic about the paleo model. Make no bones about it. You might tell somebody that you don't eat bread, rice, pasta, cereal/grains, potatoes and dairy - and they may well roll their eyes and mutter the dietary millstone of "Atkins".

If you talk of very short, high intensity training based around sprints, basic lifts and so forth, and they look at you with a degree of incredulity under the misapprehension that 'lots of cardio is the only way to burn fat'. You might also receive a caution about being 'muscle-bound' with HIT.

Our friend will undoubtedly continue on a their theme of health, exercise and nutrition which will share a platform with that held by the wider public, namely to 'eat less, do more', or 'cut fat and run distance'. These are reflex answers from decades of social conditioning.

But, as soon as you ask them what they would eat if stranded away from civilisation - the shackles of twentieth century diet and exercise dogma fall away and the paleo model appears clear and well formed.

Some cannot see, and will not, and may never see this innate beauty in the paleo model. Or, may be unable to transfer it to their present day condition. Otherwise will gape in awe at how easy it seems. Too easy? Possibly. But then how did health and fitness ever come to arrive at a place where it wasn't easy? We have had two million years to practice with mother nature drawing us on and the skilled knife of evolution cutting away at the inadequate and unsuited.

We think of ourselves as a single self - a whole entity. In reality we are a coalition. Billions of cells have risked all to become specialists, depending on each other as much as other cells depend upon them, to build YOU- thus resulting in a 'greater than' sum of parts. In the game of survival, freeloading is a heavy burden and is poorly tolerated. The result? Efficiency. An organism tailored to the environment. You.

With modern advice to get fit there always seems to be lots to remember. There is both a complexity to the information and copious amounts of it. All the while there seems to be an emphasis on counting and measuring, be it calories, grams of fat, reps and weights, distances and time. In stark contrast, I like many people reacted to the paleo model with the sound of KFC (kerr-fucking ching), and an audible "Aha!".

Ultimately the modern concept of exercise and nutrition are conceptually unsatisfying answers for us, the paleo crowd, and are physically unappealing drivers even to those who espouse them. They are repeated mantra-like, but never strike a chord within us. Have you ever thought about that?

My own epiphany is recorded here and detailed further here. As soon as I was asked what I would eat to sustain me if stranded on a desert island, all became clear. I was shaking with the revelation. KFC indeed!

In the comments to this post Marc offers an extract that similarly expresses how profound was his 'conversion':
  • If you look at nature, it expends a big time effort in sustaining itself, but it does not struggle.Does the tiger get up in the morning and say "I'll struggle like crazy today and hopefully by dinner time I'll get something to eat? No Way! It just rises, has a little sniff under it's tigers armpits or does whatever tigers do at breakfast time, and heads out.At noon there on the path is lunch, provided courtesy of the great spirit.

We often look for confirmation bias. We often see patterns where there are none. We can be tricked and mislead by our minds. In light we see something in the shadows and in the dark we see phantoms. But, with considered experiment, we can verify. By adopting a paleo model I found living proof of 'the way'.


This year I feel a transition from a position of knowledge to that of wisdom. There is still much for me to learn but there is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom out there to draw from (see the links to the right of this page).


Various factions of the scientific community also seems to have shifted their position slightly this year. Science is discreetly shuffling in its seat, moving ever closer to advice based upon our ancestral patterns and practices. I really like Bertolt Brecht's opinion on the objectives of science in 'Galileo'. He says,

  • "The chief cause of poverty in science is imaginary wealth. The chief aim of science is not to open a door to infinite wisdom but to set a limit to infinite error"

This is a noble objective for all of us. Be careful of the goals you set yourself in 2009!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Weekend Climbing Workout

I have still felt my shoulders are a bit sore from recent training so have cut back a bit more. I completed four sets of the main routine:

Warm Up (5 mins)

Main (mini circuit of about 15 minutes)
1) Sprint (8s, 9s, 10s, 11s)
2) Basic Ring Routine (2xMUs on the first two sets and then 4xMUs on the final two sets)
3) Ring Splits (5:20s, 6:15s, 7:10s, 8:5s)
4) Fingerboard

Extended Kill Carry with +10kg (9.5 mins)

I am really enjoying the Kill Carry training. I extended the original route to take in a big hill and it gave me a good test! The Muscle Ups (MUs) felt hard but the levers in the ring sequence felt pretty easy.

I am currently looking at revising my training slightly. I need to balance my specialised climbing and gymnastic training in light of my broader paleo goals. I am distilling the exercises down to those with broad functional application. I will post that up as and when I complete it.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Thought for Food

I try to keep an eye on the news for anything with a 'paleo' angle.....I think it is called confirmation bias!

I read today that Blueberries can reverse memory loss. No doubt we will see cereals and other foodstuffs with added blueberries (I think you might already be able to get this), or blueberry drinks. Marketing will want to drive blueberry health your way - principally adding blueberry to processed foods. You will also get blueberry pills in time.....and I firmly predict the blueberry cash cow will result in one of two headlines:

1) Blueberry cereals/drinks/pills do not protect against memory loss
2) Excess blueberry consumption causes illness 'x'

Also, there has been a story about the benefits of nuts in the diet. Now bar the hazard of choking on nuts, nuts probably cannot kill you. Before someone mentions it, I should add that peanuts are legumes - trivia fans and pedants take note! Nuts in the paleo diet (Pecan, Brazil, Hazelnut, Almond and Walnut), are both fruit and seed.

No doubt there will be a redoubling of efforts to get us to eat more nuts. As always this will come from a marketing effort to place nuts in to processed food - and eventually to bottle 'nut goodness' with the aim of making a pill. 'Pill-ation' of nuts will then undoubtedly lead to a scare and thus it will be found that:

1) Nut cereals/drinks/pills do not protect against whatever they are currently held to do,
2) Excess nut consumption causes illness 'y'

Finally, in the news is this story linking circadian rhythms and diabetes. (I have just finished reading 'Lights Out' and hope to blog about it soon - save to say that if you ever think you have found a new angle on Paleo living, visit Conditioning Research first as Chris is a Paleo-Amundsen and will undoubtedly have found some useful stuff about it already! You may also want to check out Dr Briffa's site for similar broad content.)

The long and the short of it is that the media latch on to a variety of health revelations. These revelations appear to have their roots in a paleo concept and are subsequently verified by 'science'. But the underlying driver of these revelations are implicit in paleo living. Blueberries? Check! Nuts? Check! Cycling with our circadian rhythms? Check!

And that is what I want to reaffirm. Paleo would appear to put us ahead of the health curve. The best that science can do is play 'catch up'. The best that marketing can do is shoe-horn this benefit in to some processed offering and trumpet the news. The best the meeja can do is sensationalise each health item as a revelation....until such time as they can perform an about turn and sell another load of papers to an increasingly confused and worried readership. This will come on the back end of a particularly un-paleo implementation of whatever health benefit was originally proposed.

For the rest of us, de-industrialise your diet and exercise. Go low-tech. That real food and primal activity is of benefit is indeed a revelation - but only amongst those who have forgotten their animalistic roots.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Finger Strength

I ventured out for a quick workout last night. It was another cold and clear winter evening. I placed emphasis on the climbing aspect - particularly finger strength.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (mini circuit of about 15 minutes)
1) Sprint (8s, 9s, 10s, 11s)
2) Fingerboard
3) Ring Splits (5:20s, 6:15s, 7:10s, 8:5s)
4) Fingerboard

Kill Carry with +10kg (4 mins)

I completed a total of four sets the exercises above, one each of 1-4 counting as one set/circuit. The fingerboard routines were based around laddering. I use a variety of hand positions including open and closed positions and crimps. I also vary the width of rung I pull on.

For each pass through I increased the sprinting by a second. I addition I incremented the number of ring splits but reduced the 'time under tension' of the 'hold' (I always hold the last split for time).

I finished with a kill carry wearing my weight vest - which is my new favourite exercise.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Max Strength

As I suspected, I needed to roll back a bit today. I was messing around with some handstands on Wednesday night and could feel a bit of fatigue in my shoulders.

I nipped out at lunch for a quick workout thus:

Warm Up (usual 5 mins)
Main (10 mins)
Sprint (10s, rest 1min)

Dumbbell Squat to Press
One Arm Dumbell Row

The dumbbell work was performed as a mini-circuit at 'max-strength' for the given number of reps. I did four sets (8, 6, 4, 2) with little rest between exercises. (So I did 8 of Dumbbell Squat to Press, then 8 of One Arm Dumbell Row, then back to 6 of Dumbbell Squat to Press, then 6 of One Arm Dumbell Row and so forth).

I walked back in the winter sunshine - knowing that I need to lay off hard exercise for a few more days.......

Monday, 1 December 2008

Negatives Routine

I think I might be over-doing it a bit but I headed to the gym at lunch for a quick workout. I took it hard on the training last night so today's session was rather easy and involved some skill work.

I performed my usual warm up followed by a pyramid as follows, with an emphasis on lowering the weight SLOWLY:

1) Two Dumbbell Split Snatch (8, 6, 4, 2) - increase the weight by 2kg each rep.
2) Pull Up Lowers (12, 8, 6, One arm)

Notes: As noted above, the snatch involved a 2kg increase in weight with each set. Also, the pull ups involved +3kg for the second set, and +4kg for the third set. The last set involved lowering on one arm (alternating the arms accordingly) rather than adding weight.

I complete all the sets for one exercise before moving on to the next. The rest between sets should be around 10s! This is quite exhausting and takes under 10 minutes to complete - including the warm up.

I finished off with some optional extras - headstands, planches, levers, back bridges and cuts work. All skill based and below 'max' levels.

I am off to Lau Gar tonight, but will take it easy. Tomorrow I will rest completely.....although Captain Kid will be wanting to wrestle as soon as I get home from work! No rest for the wicked eh?

;)

Kill Carry

So last night I headed out for another quick workout. Again it was designed towards climbing strength - fingers and upper body but with two notable additions.

The first of these was some sprinting. I work out in and around my garage and at 2000hrs last night when I began my workout it was sub-zero. The prospect of pulling on small holds without being fully warmed up is pretty frightening. After my usual round of joint rotations and limb swings (full warm up here), I progress to sprinting. Sprinting is something I have found to constitute THE most effective phase of warming up extremities and thoroughly preparing my fingers for some small-edge action! Make sure you have performed quality rotations and limb swings before lighting the afterburners - and take the first sprint at 75%.

The second addition was what I call a 'Kill Carry'. After finishing my workout I shouldered my punch-bag (all 35kg of it) and went for a walk around the block! This is meant to replicate the carrying of a kill back to camp.

When performing Kill Carries I imagine that other hunters (both human and animal), might be after my prize. Carrying a load makes you vulnerable and some predators might see an opportunity of getting two meals for the price of one! Speed is of the essence.


Warm Up - (5 mins)
Main (20 mins):
1) Four-Way Sprints (Running for five double-steps sidewards, backwards and then forwards)
2) Retreat to garage and do a simple ring routine (muscle-up, skin the cat, levers) - which takes about 30 seconds (Adding an extra muscle-up for each set)
3) Ring Scissors (reducing the number by one each set but increasing the hold time)
4) Fingerboard Laddering/Dead hanging sequence

Extra
5) Kill Carry (4min 30s) - done after four 'cycles' through 1-4 above.


Notes: I complete four sets in total . The sets comprise of one each of exercises 1-4 above (as a mini-circuit).

The first time through I start off with one muscle-up when starting my ring routine. The second time through I perform two muscle ups prior to starting the ring routine, for the third set, three MUs and four MUs for the fourth.

The Ring Scissors involved a dropping pyramid. The first time through I did 5 ring scissors, the last one I held for 5 seconds. Next time through I dropped to 4 ring scissors and held it for 10 seconds. Set three comprised three ring scissors and a 15s hold, whilst set four was also of 3 reps but with the last one held for 20s.

After the main workout I shouldered the punchbag (35kg) and went for a walk round the block. I switched shoulders and moved quickly in the cold night air - looking extremely dodgy in the process! I intend to add weight and increase speed in future. I came back and did one more lap on the fingerboard (a bit of plyometric work).

Job Done.

The whole workout was a bit longer than I had anticipated, but the 'Kill Carry' was a fun way to end and a brisk walk under the cold and starry sky was invigorating. If you don't want to do the splits nor have strong fingers, then simply substitute an alternative skill and/or choose an alternative exercise. But, make sure your alternatives don't exhaust the same muscles used in sprinting or ring work.