Tuesday, 31 March 2009
It was another sunny lunchtime. It is nice to feel the warmth of the sun reaching in to your body. The whole session was brisk using about 50% RM:
Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (15 mins)
1a) Frog Planche (3x10s)
1b) Shuttle Sprints (4), Low Wall Jumps (8), Assisted Pistols (4 per leg)
1c) Pistols (3x40s)
2a) HandWalk (3x 'for time')
2b) Kneel Backs (3x30s)
2c) Row Stretch (3x30s)
2d) Splits (3x30s)
3a) Body Levers (3x10s)
3b) Assisted Muscle Ups (3x8)
Each cycle through section '1' I changed the exercise from Shuttle Sprints to Low Wall Jumps and finally to Assisted Pistols.
I actually felt surprisingly worn out after this session. I am not sure if it is the 'kicking' I got or the effects of the clock change.
Sunday, 29 March 2009
I tried to fight back a bit but was out of gas after the first two rounds. The tempo was high and the shots were aimed at the head and face with a degree of passion. I really need to pick up my GPP and try to build a bit more anaerobic volume in to my training if I want to keep kickboxing up.
Fighting really is exhaustive and if you are fighting a rhino or another tribe, surely we had to work with the lactic acid?
Anyway, today I took it easy with just a bit of deadhanging and and headed off to the garden center to get some supplies for our garden. I am trying to get Flash and Captain Kid in to growing their own food. We are Very Modern Foragers, but hope to regress to wild foraging this summer. After getting our gardening supplies we headed off to a local park.
The park we go to has a deep sand floor. The kids love it and instinctively dig. Flash had only been to this park once before but her need to 'burrow' was quickly visible. Everywhere you looked there were kids digging with enthusiasm - just making holes and then filling them in.
On returning home it was my turn to dig. Captain Kid wanted to help but the risk of finding a worm kept her from coming on to the soil (or at least digging with any degree of productivity). Flash was keen to assist but settled for flicking soil in the air from around the edges of the plot.
After a job well done (the fruit bushes are now in place and the beetroot has sprouted), I sat back and reflected on digging. I had enjoyed digging a trench for the raspberries. Flash and Captain Kid had loved digging in the sand. My thoughts turned to the beach and then to 'Competitive Dads'. You must have seen 'Competitive Dads' - they can be found on most beaches in the summer trying to dig as deep a hole as they can.
Each year I happen on at least one beach where 'Competitive Dad' (usually watched by an offspring who may have initiated the digging, but by now is demoted to bucket carrier or some other trivial task), is trying to bypass Australian Immigration Control.
So what is it about digging that is so compelling to us? Could this be an instinctive part of our makeup (just as dogs bury bones)? An echo of our early history foraging for roots? Or is it simply a manifestation of our ego. A statement of our physical prowess by digging the deepest hole on the beach?
Certainly for Flash and Captain Kid, there is no ego - only the fun of the dig. For me, today's digging was rooted in the same spirit!
Friday, 27 March 2009
The weather was cloudy today but I managed 10 minutes of my routine outside and the sun shone for that brief period!
Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (20 mins)
1a) Frog Planch (4x15s)
1b) Assisted HSPUs (4x8)
1c) Splits (3x60s)
2a) HeadStand Leg Raise to Handstand (3x6)
2b) Wall Walk (3x2)
2c) Row Stretch (2x60s)
3) Body Levers (4x15s)
I need to crank up the Planche work and get back to tucks. The Frogs are getting too easy! Wall Walks are still brutal and I am not sure my form is the best (toes are pointing out). The Assisted HSPU is getting better so I may opt for a harder version.
Thursday, 26 March 2009
I had fasted all day (no problem with hunger pangs), and returned home to enjoy my usual fast-breaking meal of liver and steak lightly fried in chicken fat, steamed broccoli and cauliflower topped with (full fat) grated cheese and a side order of boiled eggs.
For the fat-phobic who recoil at the use of chicken fat, full fat cheese and eggs in my diet I should point out that I was BodPodded at 10.3% body fat last week. I do no 'cardio' as such although the Lau Gar does go in to cardio territory but seldom for more than two minutes 'under tension'. So much for conventional advice on lowering bodyfat!
What really got me choking on my refined-carb free feast was an advert I saw on TV. It came with the link to a program called FatSatNav. This hit me for several reasons not least because of another story appearing in the papers over the weekend.
The first point I'd like to make is that we really do seem to be coming to a point in nutrition where the media (and so popular consciousness) is isolating refined carbohydrate as enemy number one rather than fat (with salt coming in third). And secondly, the thrust of FatSatNav is clearly an attempt at the rehabilitation of fat (albeit the WRONG fat!).
So what does FatSatNav advise? Here are their (Unilever's) Fat Facts:
- Fat Fact: Margarine can be a great source of mono - and polyunsaturates (like Omega 3 and Omega 6), and a good source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E Fat
- Fact: Most margarines contain only trace amounts of trans fats (bad ones!), whereas butter typically contains 3% trans fats
- Fat Fact: Some margarines can contain up to 78% less saturated fat than butter
- Fat Fact: Four slices of bread spread with margarine could contain as much as 15% of your daily requirement of good fats (Omega 3 and Omega 6) and as little as 5% of your daily calorie intake or GDA for calories
- Fat Fact: Switching from butter to margarine as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle can help to manage your cholesterol level
There is also a debate embedded in the piece devoted to saturated fat. Sadly it is ruined by talk of 'consensus' rather than robust science. Worse still is the lame idea of 'everything in moderation' that permeates several of the addresses.
Dr John Briffa is involved in the debate and gives a sound performance but the whole piece from beginning to end is steeped in fat-phobic verbiage. The questions section at the end is a bloody travesty of editing where there seems to be favourable bias given to those speaker in support of the fat-phobic line.
Briffa is the only one that actually seems to refer to specific scientific literature whereas the rest give either anecdotal evidence or vague references to 'scientists think this...', 'we know that saturated fat does that...' and '...we have 50 years of evidence the other.... Sadly his contribution seems to have been limited in the debate so much (presumably because he was not 'on-message'), he comes across as a bit isolated and out-of-step with the others.
There is some agreement amongst the panel about giving percentage breakdowns of fats, sugars etc...but I have addressed the difficulties of maintaining a daily running total of how much you have eaten of a particular food group before. It will not work!
For me, I just follow my paleo compass. If you can eat it raw, eat it. Eat seasonally. Sprint, throw and climb a bit. Walk and carry frequently.
I do take heart that the usual 'fat message' is HAVING to adjust and that the spotlight of obesity is being retrained on refined carbohydrate and HFCS. Mahatma Ghandi said "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." We have left first base!
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25 mins)
1) Field Sprints (3x10+s)
2a) Pillar Jumps (3x8)
2b) Partner Medicine Ball Throws (3x8 per arm)
3a) Muscle Up On Rings (3x6)
3b) Ring Rows (3x8)
We kept things pretty brisk and up-tempo. The field sprints were brutal - or rather the last 30m of the last set put me right in the hurt-locker. I left the gym feeling 'oiled' but not burnt out. A good session and nice to train with a partner for a change.
This evening I did some deadhanging (7s load, 3s rest x 7 sets) for each of the three main grip positions on the lounge doorframe (don't tell Mrs A).
Monday, 23 March 2009
I like it because it gives me some support to my idea of whatever I do, I want to hit my body from all angles and get out of the gym in 30 minutes!
I am in a great position to assess the impact of this advice on body composition and will post further on this in the near future. In the meantime it looks like I will be doing even less in the gym! Bwahahaha! ;)
The paper itself is published by the Journal of Exercise Physiology online (Official Journal of The American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP) , ISSN 1097-9751 An International Electronic Journal Volume 7 Number 3 June 2004)
The Least You Need to Do!
- Select a mode of exercise that feels comfortable throughout the range of motion. There is very little evidence to support the superiority of free weights or machines for increasing muscular strength, hypertrophy, power, or endurance.
• Choose a repetition duration that will ensure the maintenance of consistent form throughout the set. One study showed a greater strength benefit from a shorter duration (2s concentric/4s eccentric) and one study showed better strength gains as a result of a longer duration (10s concentric/4s eccentric), but no study using conventional exercise equipment reports any significant difference in muscular hypertrophy, power, or endurance as a result of manipulating repetition duration.
• Choose a range of repetitions between three and 15 (e.g., 3-5, 6-8, 8-10, etc.). There is very little evidence to suggest that a specific range of repetitions (e.g., 3-5 versus 8-10) or time-under-load (e.g., 30s versus 90s) significantly impacts the increase in muscular strength, hypertrophy, power, or endurance.
• Perform one set of each exercise. The preponderance of resistance-training studies shows no difference in the gains in muscular strength, hypertrophy, power, or endurance as a result of performing a greater number of sets.
• After performing a combination of concentric and eccentric muscle actions, terminate each exercise at the point where the concentric phase of the exercise is becoming difficult, if not impossible, while maintaining good form. There is very little evidence to suggest that going beyond this level of intensity (e.g., supramaximal or accentuated eccentric muscle actions) will further enhance muscular strength, hypertrophy, power, or endurance.
• Allow enough time between exercises to perform the next exercise in proper form. There is very little evidence to suggest that different rest periods between sets or exercises will significantly affect the gains in muscular strength, hypertrophy, power, or endurance.
• Depending on individual recovery and response, choose a frequency of 2-3 times/week to stimulate each targeted muscle group. One session a week has been shown to be just as effective as 2-3 times/week for some muscle groups. There is very little evidence to suggest that training a muscle more than 2-3 times/week or that split routines will produce greater gains in muscular strength, hypertrophy, power, or endurance.
Less IS more.
Friday, 20 March 2009
As predicted it was sunny but still nice and cool. I hacked about with my intended workout so that it was outdoor based. The workout was a bit longer than normal - largely due to the sunbathing aspect!
Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (35 mins)
1) Field Sprints (5x10+s)
2a) Walking on Hands (4x60%RM)
2b) Kneel Backs (4x60s)
2c) Frog Planch (4x15s)
2d) Cuts LHS (3x30s)
3a) Feet Elevated Inverse Row (4x7 60%RM)
3b) Tuck Lever (4x15s)
2c) Cuts RHS (3x30s)
The planche and levers were well within RM - around 60%. I will start to look at reintroducing the Tuck Planche and extending my legs on the levers, next week.
I tagged another workout on my return home this evening. Captain Kid wanted to run about and given the field sprints earlier, wesimply ran around playing chase for 20s or so. I also go to use my new tug-o'-war rope!
1a) Chase (4x20s)
1b) Ring Routine (x4 light)
1c) Ring splits 4x8
I interspersed this sequence with several sets of ladders, changing between the three main grips. I did a total of about 7 sets of laddering and finished with a two sets of rope climbs and rope lock-offs.
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
In my late teens and early twenties there was one activity that was popular amongst climbers - particularly drunk climbers, that gives a full body workout. It is a 'pull and press' workout but will test your core strength, climbing strength and your grappling skills!
Now, a decade on, this self same exercise would appear to be a fantastic training exercise that complements a set of Stairgators (the alcohol is optional).
Google the words 'table' and 'climbing' and the forthcoming result-set will yield lots of links to South Africa and Table Mountain. But, right at the top of the list in pride of place you will find a YouTube clip dedicated to the black art of 'Table Climbing'. The only kit that is required is a sturdy (preferably freestanding), table. A table for four or six is optimal but masochists may wish to opt for a banquet sized structure. Although table shapes may vary, a square or rectangular table is traditional!
If you have never tried it before, Table Climbing looks to be a simple exercise in cocking about, but there are rules:
- Start from the top of the table.
- Leave the table top (head or feet first), at one of the table's narrowest ends.
- You must climb BETWEEN the legs of the narrow end.
- At NO point must you touch the floor (and the elite may wish to avoid touching the table's legs)
- Traverse along the underside of the table to the opposite end.
- Ascend back on to the top of the table.
- Heel hooks and hands may reach around the broad side of the table - but no other part of the body.
- The 'athlete' has completed one circuit when successfully back on top of the table.
Here is a second link showing that even small tables can be used.
No iron. No need for specialist equipment. Short, brutal, functional and intense. No guesses for what Captain Kid and I will be doing this weekend!
This exercise is part of a game I used to play as a child, and is something that was re-inspired by watching Flash working out how fast she could negotiate her way down the stairs (she settled for belly down and feet first).
- Start on the landing of your house.
- Get down on to all fours (feet and hands - not the knees).
- Walk down the stairs on all fours (but do NOT use your knees), head first.
- When at the bottom of the stairs (that means both hands and feet are off the stairs), reverse the process walking back up the stairs on all fours, feet first.
It is much harder than you think and way more fun than you can imagine. It is also highly productive.
Take care with it and above all enjoy!
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25 mins)
1a) Assisted Pistols(3x12)
1b) Frog Planche (4x15s)
1c) Cuts (30s Per Side)
2a) Headstand Leg Raise (3x8)
2b) Assisted Handstand PressUps (3x12 steps)
3a) Kneel Backs (3x15s)
3b) L-Sit Stretch (3x 60s)
4a) Tucked Body Lever (4x15s)
4b) One Arm Lowers (One Per Side)
The OALs were single reps and pretty easy. In fact, only the pistols and Assisted HeSTPUs milked me! Rests were kept short (hence the smaller combinations of exercises).
That night I performed a Stairgator to test my upper body strength. It was tough but not that bad (at least as not as bad as I remember).
Sunday, 15 March 2009
Friday, 13 March 2009
Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (20 mins)
1a) Pillar Jumps (4x8)
1b) Medicine Ball Throws (4x8 per side)
2a) Headstand Leg Raise (4x4)
2b) Handstand Walk (4x10 steps)
2c) Wall walk (4x2)
2d) Frog Planche (4x15s)
2e) Cuts (3x30s LHS)
3a) Rows (4x8)
3b) Body Lever
3c)Cuts (3x30s RHS)
Volume in the jumps and throws really kicked in on the final reps for the final sets. My knee feels fine after the recent injury - but I still need to be mindful and moderate the running given the amount of jumping I do.
Wall Walks hit back flexibility, shoulders and your abs. The are a cruel exercise but strangely addictive. As with many of my exercises, they target chains of muscles and one feels satisfied after a set!
The cuts are actually an excuse to rest for an additional 30s between the hard stuff! The rows are usually done on a Smith Machine with bar set low and feet elevated on a bench. I varied it with some dumbell bent over rowing and even did some one arm lowers from the pull up bar by hooking my feet on to additional equipment (prompting one gym-goer to suggest I get a prize for Most Innovative Form of Self-Torture).
In the evening....the emphasis was on finger strength and so the following laddering was spread over 7 sets. In each set I worked each of the three main grips up and down the rungs, mixing the order of the grip.
Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (20 mins)
1a) Ring Routine (starting and ending with a Muscle Up)
1b) Ring Splits (4x8reps)
The laddering was liberally spread in and around the exercise-pair above. The fingers feel very strong at the moment. I am mad-keen to get on real rock.
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Age has mellowed me and an innings of 'three score and ten' seems fitting. But there's the rub. Seventy is not a badge to collect nor a box to tick. Getting to 70, 80 90 or 100 is more than feasible with modern medicine but what is important to me HOW I get there!
This is something that DOES still trouble me. I don't fear getting old, I fear 'losing it' and being forced to live beyond my health. This is what drives me even today - and ensures that idleness nor chronic exercise hasten my demise.
A few years ago my grandfather was sent to a home. This place was pretty grim and like many care homes, despite whatever the marketing blurb says, had the feeling of a departure lounge for 'Air-Reaper'.
I knew that my grandfather was due for 'check out' and with each weekend I went to see him, the number of empty chairs was testament to turnover of this place. Sure they had entertainment (books, TV, radio etc...), and home cooked food but there was little 'movement' amongst the residents unless it involved a box that was 6ft by 3ft.
One visit in particular stuck in my mind. I was in the lounge and a nurse burst in to the room asking for my help lifting one of the residents who had fallen over. I was lead to a bedroom where 'Tom' was sitting on the ground looking up at me. His eyes were wide with fear.
I smiled to ease him but he was terrified. My hands reached for his torso but found lots of clothes and then, finally some bones. It kind of felt like picking up an old deckchair - all canvas and frame. I lifted him up with ease and although his face relaxed a bit, I could see the helplessness in his eyes. I can still picture him today. This is someone I never knew, met once and will never see again - but he has had a massive impact on my life....
I knew then that I NEVER wanted to get to that stage of ill health and general helplessness. Sure the pills and the care kept him alive (the table next to his bed was crammed with medicine), but he struck me as someone too weak to protest and fight the torment that his life had become. He was trapped alive.
On reflection how could Tom or anyone in that home ever hope to become anything other than helpless? The residents were seldom encouraged to go outdoors or move about. Their meals were brought to them. The TV was controlled by remote. Residents where wheeled or zimmered from A to B. More importantly in Tom's position, the simple skill of getting up off the ground - that first complex balancing skill we learn as an infant, had become lost. The flexibility left him and the muscles in his legs and arms had atrophied. The strength he worked upon in that first year of life had now deserted him.
Since that time I have regularly sat on the floor at home rather than sitting on a chair. I usually sit cross legged but will lean back against the furniture which seems to have developed pelvic mobility. Standing up demands a pressing action in the arms and can also be an excuse for a pistol.
My new found perspective on life is good in many ways. Seated, I am at head height with Flash standing, and both she and Captain Kid like to sit in the 'crook' of my crossed legs to watch TV or read a book.
Sitting on the floor (and for that matter squatting down), feels comfortable surprisingly quickly. It works your body through a significant range of motion. It is a credible test of a child's development so why not that of a pensioner's demise?
For me this is a personal indicator of when I need to make one last fight. This then is my benchmark and one skill that I work on EVERY day.
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
1) Open Handed Hang (7s x 3s x 1m10s)
2) Closed Crimp Hang (7s x 3s x 1m10s)
3) Half Crimp Hang (7s x 3s x 1m10s)
The way this works is 7s under tension, then three seconds rest - repeated seven times. All this was done on a sturdy door frame in between cooking and watching TV. (Classic isometric training).
The hangs were two-handed and I assisted as necessary. I rested about 5 minutes between each grip type.
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)*
1a) Assisted Pistols (4, 4, 2, 2)
1b) Frog Planche (4x15s)
1c) Cuts (30s per side x 4)
1d) Kneel to HeS Raises (4x4)
1e) Assisted HeSPUs/HeS Lowers (4, 4, 2, 2)
1f) BackBridge (4x15s)
2a) Tuck Body Lever (4x15s)
2b) One Arm Lock Off to Lower (4x5s)
So I did 4 sets of the 1a-f and then 4 sets of the 2a-b. I had to add a long rest in between sets of 2a-b, but the sun was out so it was easy. It was cloudy and wet for 1a-f so that was indoors :(
I felt pretty good on most exercises. The pistols were a struggle and required assistance but the planch and especially the levers felt good.
* I kept going outside in to the sunshine to rest for several minutes between sets of the last two exercises. Thus I could have finished quicker but was enjoying the rays.
Sunday, 8 March 2009
I helped some other parents do some gardening at Captain Kid's school yesterday which was a nice opportunity to do some light carry work, wheel barrow pushing and spade work. Although our ancestors were unlikely to perform much of the work for which we bred beasts of burden, anything involving a bit of carrying and some digging (we foraged for tubers), must surely get the thumbs up.
It was nice to be doing something voluntarily and with a real community spirit. We shovelled soil and planted some vegetables. Anything that links kids to real food has to be good.
Getting back in to the swing of workouts gave me another opportunity reflect on how reviving I find 'paleo centric' workouts:
1) Sprinting is the 'daddy'. You lose your speed and evolution will weed you out. Be quick or be dead. Sooooo happy to be back to this work.
2) Rings - not paleo but our ancestors got it right when they headed for the trees. Pre-empting the fun of modern day climbing by several million years, the apes were also on to a winner when it came to developing upper body strength by lifting themselves off the ground. However the tables have turned and we have now stolen a march on the apes, for while the branch is a mighty training tool, gymnastic rings offer a superior range of movements. When you watched the old Tarzan films, did you ever see Cheetah do an iron cross or handstand on rings? That is because he couldn't. Probably.
3) Heavy Punch Bags are great. As a mechanism for stress release, kicking and punching one of these is unsurpassed. Fighting is in our DNA and best expressed on a heavy lump of suspended padding that cannot hit back. But the best thing I ever did with a heavy punchbag was to pick it up and carry it. This is something I still do. Who would have thought something developed to work our limbs can also be used so effectively to build a solid core.
Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25 mins)
1a) Sprint (4x10s)
1b) Ring Routine (Emphasis on fast MUs and holding an L-Sit position at the top before continuing)
1c) Ring Splits
I cycled four times through 1a-c above and interspersed randomly with a total of about 7 fingerboard sequences working with each of the three main grip types.
I finished with a shortened and unweighted kill carry (so only the punchbag, no weight-vest) and some deadhanging to end with.