Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Greatest & Best Diet in the World (Tribute)

Britain's ITV station has been running a two part 'Tonight' special titled "The World's Best Diet". the goal of the diets was to:
  • "...see which one generated the greatest benefit to health based on common markers of good health, such as cholesterol levels, liver function tests, and body mass index"
The diets were followed be several fat 'celebrities' and can broadly be categorised thus:
  1. Japanese (lots of sushi and vegetables)
  2. British (traditional 1950's meat & two veg)
  3. Mediterranean (Italian pasta, heavy on fish and vegetables)
  4. Indian (vegetarian curries made from rice and vegetables)
  5. US (low-carb - meat and vegetables)

You will notice all of them are heavy on the vegetables/plant bits. You will notice that a few of them are heavy on the meat. You will also notice that although two of them feature rice and one of them features pasta, they are all light, in general, on sugar, bread, cereals, pastries, fizzy drinks and other processed foods.

Winner Doesn't Take it All

So which diet won? Which one led to the greatest weight loss. Well the diet that did least well was the Indian, vegetarian diet. The 'shleb following that diet lost 2lbs in six weeks. Ha, ha, ha! the diet that was most effective in terms of weight loss was the US, Low-Carb diet!

....only it didn't win. The 'blurb' on the link above states,

  • "Overall, the Mediterranean-STYLE of eating came out best – not only for correcting cholesterol, boosting vitamin D and improving cholesterol profile, but also for helping Darren lose a phenomenal amount of weight, keeping fit in the process. "

In reality the person following the LC diet (Caroline Malone), lost MOST weight - only a bit more, but more nevertheless. The big downside for the LC diet was the fact that Malone's LDL had risen. Some (obese) dietician from the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) opined that her LDL had gone up.

Ooooo scary! Yep, having been told for years that "CHOLESTEROL IS BAD", we are now getting the subtler message that "HDL IS GOOD, LDL IS BAD". Give it a few more years and 'they' will cotton on to the fact that LDL is comprised of two subtypes, one of which is harmful and the other beneficial. Guess which subtype an LC diet raises?

Furthermore we do not know whether Malone's LDL was measure directly (I suspect not), or inferred from the limited Friedwald equation. Both Stephan and Mike Eades have superb posts on this very topic.

But that is not all. "Fatty" from the BNF went on to tell us that the LC is not sustainable...because erm, well it just isn't. In fact her argument as to why the LC diet is NOT sustainable can be summarised thus:

  • ""

Hang on a minute, let me bold that for you so you can see the crux of her argument:

  • ""

Erm...hang on a minute, let me number the main points for you...

Erm...errrr......

You see, just as the religious have recourse to the Courtiers Reply under which they shelter from the rationalism and logic of atheism, nutritionists and dietitians have their equivalent. LC is the elephant in the room.

The BNF keep repeating negative speculation about LC that is damaging and misleading. I am sure Fatty mentioned a 'lack of energy' from a LC diet (odd that I and other have found intermittent fasting was made possible by an LC diet), and it was most definitely mentioned that LC was 'not sustainable in the long term' because erm, err, erm.... er - no reason!

I am sick of these (frequently obese) 'advisors' appearing in the media to repeat their rather dated ideas about nutrition. If the BNF or British Dietetics Association's advice was any good, few of their advisors would be fat. I would love to see the weight of their staff plotted over time! They didn't follow the science, they pushed their own agenda. Mediterranean diet my arse. Give me some fatty animal flesh and seasonal vegetables any time!

Rant over.

(Posted by Asclepius - Last bodpodded at 10.3% BF and who eats when hungry and until full and never does 'cardio')

Monday, 29 June 2009

Dynamic Workout

Last night I did a quick climbing workout as follows:

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (15 mins)
1a) Laddering
1b) Ring Splits (6, 6, 6, 6)
1c) Basic Ring Routine

2a) Deadhang Repeaters (7s:3s:140)

Today the weather was quite hot and humid. Not really conducive to a lunchtime workout, but as always, a bit of sprinting 'juiced' my body in preparation for further activity. I cannot emphasise enough how sprinting 'breaks open the champagne' within and gets you in the mood to work!

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)
1a) Sprint (2x15s, one minute rest between each set)

2a) Pillar Jumps (4x5)
2b) Frog Planch (3x20s)

3a) Wall Walk (4x2)
3b) Tuck Rows to One Arm Lower (4x4)

4a) Tuck Lever (3x20s)

I finished off with some hand walking for time.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Bilateral Deficit (How to Work 13% Harder)

Apart from being a bit of a conversation killer at dinner parties, the bilateral deficit is the phenomenon of a reduction in performance during synchronous bilateral movements when compared to the sum of identical unilateral movements.

Confused? Well let me explain. Given your RM for a lift with one limb (a unilateral movement), you'd expect your RM for two limbs combined (a bilateral movement), to be equal to the sum of each unilateral movement (UL), but this is not the case.

Let's go further with an example. Common sense tells us that if we can curl a 25kg dumbell with one arm, we should be able to curl a 50kg barbell with two arms, right? Sadly not. In practice the RM with the barbell will be around 15% less! Behold the bilateral deficit effect.

You can actually see this phenomena in many other exercises - press ups, chins and pull ups, squats, dips rows and presses.

In this article by Peter Vint he quotes work by Vandervoort et al. who found that,
  • "...simultaneous BL leg extension strength was significantly less that the summed UL strengths under isometric and concentric conditions."

Vint addresses work by Secher, Rorsgaard, and Secher who concluded that:

  • "...slow-twitch fiber activity was reduced during the simultaneous BL exercises. The results of pharmacological muscular inhibition led to a further rationalization that the UL strength dominance was attributable to a reduction in ST MU activation during the simultaneous BL exercises, despite the fact that the FT fibers were actively firing"
This finding was endorsed by Vandervoort et al. (in the same article), who found that:
  • "MU activation was less complete during BL versus UL leg extension",
So what causes this phenomena? There seems to be a bit of disagreement around the underlying cause and little agreement other than muscle unit activation might be 'less complete', activation speed and/or possibly some local neural control mechanism.

The size of the deficit varies between individuals, whether trained or untrained, and, on efficiency of an individual's CNS.

That said, the effect is real and given how much more juice you can squeeze from unilateral movements, they may be the way to go!

Strength Workout

Today I start back cycling through the workouts listed with tags to the right. Beginning at 1 - a strength workout, I made a few adjustments, but it was essentially the same workout.

The aim was four sets of the main sequence (2a-2g):

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25 mins)
1a) 15s Sprint to Fig Eights (2x30s, one minute rest between each set)

2a) HSPU (3, 3, 2, 2) - assisted on the third rep of the first two sets.
2b) Alternative Leg Pistol (3, 3, 2, 2) - assisted on the third rep of the first two sets.
2c) Tuck Planche (4x5s)
2d) Tuck Lever (4x5s)
2e) Alternate One Arm Lock-Off to Lower (3, 3, 2, 2)
2f) Backbridge (3x20s)

The big development is that I can do more sets of handstand pressups! Four sets of two unassisted is a personal record (IIRC). The same with the pistols - four sets of two unassisted pistols is a personal best.

I don't do HSPUs or Pistols that often, so I guess it is a cross training effect. The Tuck Planche also seems to be a PB - with four sets of 5s in a harder variation.

It was a fantastic day - blue skies all the way. Thus I finished the workout with a bit of handstand work and general sunning!

Overall, I seem to be making gains from variety and novelty. The workouts are all around 30 minutes once or twice a week. I am completely free of injury save for a niggle in my right knee (blogged about earlier), which is getting better by the week.

I still intend to move further from note-taking and measuring. I take more from my workout than a bunch of numbers. Sure, you need a handle on what you are doing. A successful hunt or a successful escape would have been feed back enough, and I want to concentrate on a similarly high level view of where I am physically.

Steady progress in the bodyweight exercises above, for me, ticks this box rather than getting bogged down in the minutae of lbs, shilling and pence.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Sunday Climbing

Father's Day was celebrated with a monster feast of chocolate......which I promptly scoffed! the day was punctuated with a visit to relatives and a picnic in open parkland. The parkland provided space for Captain Kid and I to play various games in and around the trees and clearings.

These games involved various sprints and chasing. Flash was keen to participate but was sidetracked with gymnastic endeavours....namely the handstand.

This evening I managed to sneak off to the garage for a quick workout. Four cycles through the following, with a set of deadhangs to finish.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (15 mins)
1a) Laddering
1b) Ring Splits (6, 6, 6, 6)
1c) L-Sit Rope Climb to Lock-Off and Lower

2a) Deadhang Repeaters (7s:3s:140)

Friday, 19 June 2009

The Secret of Genius

"The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm. "

- Aldous Huxley

One Louder - Statics

I am trying to cut down on volume a wee bit on weeks where I do two training session. Today's workout was based upon static holds that were intense, but keeping the whole workout short - thus I only did three sets of the cycle. I want to focus a bit more on my gymnastics skills (or lack thereof).

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (15 mins)
1a) Chair Sits (3x60s)
1b) Handstands - Wall Assisted (3x60s)
1c) Tuck Lever (3x30s)
1d) RLLs (3x8)
1e) Back Bridge (3x15s)
1f) Frog Planche (3x30s)

The last set was a killer - with my arms beginning to shake! This workout, although brief, was definitely 'one louder'!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

"Nutrition Organisations Talk Doodoo" Shocker

Well folks, you'll notice from my recent output that I am on my soap box at the moment. The latest story to get under my skin is this one on the BBC site, which you can read in full here.

It turns out that nutritionists have worked out the secret to losing weight. You see, "consuming foods high in water could be the key to losing weight". And the reason for this is that they "appear to keep you feeling fuller for longer. "

The Emperor's new clothes getting an airing as you will see. Half way down the article we get this gem:

  • "You need to control the portion sizes of these foods and eat them alongside lots of lower energy density foods," says Bridget Benelam, a nutrition scientist at the BNF"
Control portion size! Erm, you mean "Eat less" Ms Benelam, don't you? As for dessert:

  • "...go for mixed berries with low fat yogurt, crunchy oat cereal and honey."
Low fat yogurt? Low fat? A meal with a low level of one substance that is know to improve satiety? Baise moi!

Now do you REALLY think that your body, that sophisticated machine with a couple of million years of evolution behind it, can be fooled in such a simple way? Do you think that your body is unaware of falling energy reserves?

Energy is your body's reason d'etre. It works hard to manage your energy system and has developed several hormonal responses to manage this system. A simple energy in vs energy out model falls far short of how the body actually works to store fat.

Hotel
I was trying to think of a suitable analogy to how fat is stored - and here goes....if you imagine a hotel with 50 rooms, each with its own en suite bath and basin. Now imagine you measure the water pressure on the top floor and it is 2 bars and all the baths and basins are empty and the taps are all turned off and the plugs are not in place. The analogy I will use is of these basins and baths being 'fat stores'.

If you apply the British Dietetic Association (BDA) and British Nutrition Foundation's (BNF) understanding of obesity to this analogy, if you were to increase the pressure to 3 bar, they would conclude that as there was more water in the system (increasing the pressure), the basins and baths must therefore be full of water.

Crackers isn't it?

One of their members might actually suggest that this is nonsense. They might go on to question "what about the taps - the basins and baths will not fill up because the taps are turned off". Bingo. Our switched-on member of the BDA/BNF has correctly identified the physical mechanism stopping water going in to the basins and baths. The body's biochemical equivalent is alpha-glycerol phosphate (g-3-p).

Alpha-glycerol phosphate bonds with free fatty acids and allows them to be stored as a triglyceride. No alpha-glycerol phosphate, no triglyceride, no fat storage! We should also mention insulin. Insulin is a master hormone that transports glucose to the fat sells for storage.

The body's principle source of alpha glycerol phosphate is dietary carbohydrate - think tap fully on. Without carbohydrate, we at best get a dripping tap (g-3-p produced by glyceroneogenesis).

But now we understand the physical mechanism controlling water getting in to the baths and basins, what about emptying them?

Again there is a physical barrier, the plug. And so it is with fat storage. With elevated insulin in your body, you cannot pull the plug (OK I admit my analogy gets harder to apply here). But the take-home message is that with the body, insulin shuttles glucose to your fat cells. So if your body is busy 'shuttling' at the hormonal level, how are you going to 'unshuttle' at the same time given the same hormonal conditions ( - imagine the pipework trying to allow a two way flow of water)? You aren't.

At a biochmeical level, fat can flow in and out of the the fat cell walls unless it combines with an molecule of alpha-glycerol 3 phosphate making a triglyceride (esterification) - which, unlike a fatty acid, is too large to transit the wall of the fat cell. This is the priciple of fat storage.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Year One


Oh my god! Baise Moi. Abandon hope all ye! Jack Black's latest movie has a paleo/hunter gatherer theme. Paleo people, prepare to be ridiculed by Joebese Public and carbophiles everywhere!

Year One is the name of the film and judging by some of the physiques in it, will give the paleo nay-sayers their most robust evidence yet that the paleo diet cannot and simply does not work.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Diet & Prostate Cancer

Radio 4 have a feature called 'The Food Program'. A recent episode had an interesting angle on 'Diet and Prostate Cancer'. You can listen to this feature here:

  • "Sheila Dillon discusses the latest research linking diet and prostate cancer.
  • Food campaigner Geoff Tansey, diagnosed with prostate cancer a year ago, has kept an audio diary relating his experience of the disease and his quest to discover the effects of diet.
  • Nutritional scientist Professor Margaret Rayman joins Sheila to discuss her findings that show that the health of the prostate can be helped by eating a diet rich in certain foods and avoiding the harmful effects of others.
  • Professor Rayman is joined in the studio by Professor Colin Cooper of the Department of Molecular Biology at the Institute of Cancer Research."

For paleo converts like me, such a link does not cause any surprise. The featured cancer-sufferer lays blame at the door of diet and has quite a compelling experience in support of this.

However, he identifies sugar and red-meat (his daughter is vegetarian which might have influenced his thoughts), as the prime drivers. He also notes a piece of American research he found on the web linking red-meat and cancer which I think might be this story (which Dr Mike Eades handles with his usual skill)!

For me, what is surprising about this edition of The Food Program, is that here we have a program filled with experts from various branches of the cancer 'business' - and they do not seem to be able to agree on the strength of the relationship between diet and cancer.

The NHS - Behind the Headlines site has an interesting angle on this story:

  • "People who ate the greatest amount of processed meat were at significantly greater risk of developing cancer of the bowel or lung. Men who ate the highest amounts of processed meat were at increased risk of pancreatic cancer, but not women. There was also a trend towards an increased risk of bladder cancer and myeloma with higher processed meat consumption, but these differences were small and not statistically significant."

Now the same evidence is available to all participants in 'The Food Program'. They each bring their own interpretation of evidence to the discussion, and they each seem to be aware of the others' position, but still there is no 'join-up'. So if such specialists cannot agree, what hope is there of us mere mortals being directed in the right direction?

I hate it when my posts end up rambling on about the paleo compass.........so here is a link to another superb post by Dr Eades.

12-8-4 Pyramids

This work out is a pyramid where you work in to the lactic and then up the weight and drop the reps. Rest between sets is about 10s (enough time to put your old weights back on the rack and pick up a heavier set, and load them in to position).

The cadence I employ is to lift in 2s and lower in 4s. Movements should be smooth and although you aim for the rep targets specified, feel free to stop short or add a few more on, as determined by your form. Work with the lactic acid!

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25 mins)
1a) Sprints (15s:50s x 4)
2a) 60m Agility Figure Eights (4x4 laps between goal posts)
3a) Dumbell Press (10kg, 12kg, 14kg)
4a) Seated Rows
5a) Deadlifts (50% RM)
6a) Kneel Backs (1x60s)
7a) Frog Planche (30s, 20s, 15s)
8a) Tuck Lever (30s, 20s, 15s)

Weight selected was around 90% RM apart from the deadlifts on which I used quite light weights as I do not perform this activity very often.

This is one of my most hardware/dumbell intense routines as normally I prefer to train with bodyweight outdoors. But, it certainly has left me feeling worked through and through.

* I pimped out the days training with a little bit of climbing training this evening. I made three passes through the following circuit, resting around 4 mins from the end of a particular exercise until the start of the next set for that particular exercise:

1a) Fingerboard Laddering
1b) Muscle Ups to L-Sit (6, 6, 4)
1c) Ring Scissors (8, 6, 4)

2) Deadhang Repeaters (7s:3s/150s)

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The Exercise Pyramid

The exercise pyramid (UPDATE: I mean heirarchy), is designed to give you an idea of what movements should be important to your life; what will give you most bang for the buck. Enjoy.

1. Walking - Self-locomote! Head to the shops or take in a Munroe. There is NO excuse (unless you are Stephen Hawkins).

2a. Sprinting - Don't just go in straight lines - and if you can mix it with sport (rugby or football), all the better.

2b. Lifting and Carrying. Pick up something reasonably heavy (around the equivalent weight of a toddler), and go for a walk with it. If it actually IS a child, then ask the parent's permission first. This should work your core and upper body. Try washing your car or watering your garden without a hose.

3a. Muscle Up - If you cannot manipulate your bodyweight with arms then your are bear-food. Oh, and by the way, Pull Ups and Chins DO NOT COUNT. They are merely steps on the path to an MU!

3b. Bent-Over Rows/Rope Climbing - that should be bent-over rows AND rope climbing. I don't care how much you can row, get up that rope without using your legs (and preferably in an L-Sit position)

3c. Military Press/Handstands - Deep down inside you know that the press is just a warm up for some handstand work. You KNOW a HSPU is the coolest thing ever and until you have self-locomoted upside down, you have not lived!

4a. Play - If it is a game involving rapid bursts of speed, we like it! The opposite of play is not work, it is depression. Anyone under 16 should place play at number two on their exercise pyramid!

4b. 'Tics - (Athletics and Gymnastics) - From Isometrics to Tumbling, gymnastics will develop kineasthetic awareness and brutal strength. This is such a broad church it definitely gets high up my list. Athletics covers a similar range, but you have to watch out for those events that branch out in to steady state events of more than a few minutes duration. You know, if the did sprinting on World's Strongest Man, that'd be up here as well.

4c. Throwing & Jumping - Throwing could be a shot-put, rocks from a river bed or a medicine ball. hell, maybe even a spear. Alternate arms! Jumping? Well, trampolines are great fun and plyometrics are incredibly demanding. In between these extremes there is a whole range of intensity.

4d. Climbing - Adventure, fear and the great outdoors! (Yes, I am biased so I will let you add your own one here.)

5a. Ball Sports - As long as it doesn't involve a cue, most ball sports I can think of involve demanding stop-start activity.

5b. Water Sports - Swimming - A survival skill that opens up exploration of 2/3 of the world's surface to you. Windsurfing, Kayaking - generally anything that

5c. Winter Sports - Been Ice climbing or Skiing? Try it with a heart rate monitor and, if you are doing it right, the stab of adrenaline and surge of lactic acid should tie in with a heart rate pushing 200!

5d. Extreme Sports - From Rollerblading and BMXing to Parkour and Tricking or Breakdancing, if it raises adrenalin and leads to development of precise skill and technique, it'll do you some good.

5e. Combat Sports - Striking or grappling sports, it doesn't matter - and better still, both! Bull fighting and Bull riding have to be excluded on grounds of cruelty!

6a. Aerobics - Fashion from the 80's, music from the Top 40. No thanks.

6b. Marathons - Pheidippedes did the one thing you should not do after declaring "Chairete nikomen".

6c. Bodybuilding - enough said. I'd just like to point out that Vince Gironda is the only bodybuilder whose training principles I would follow. And maybe Mike Mentzer's.

6d. Motor Racing - unless you are petrol head at the top end of your sport, this will NOT get you fit. It's classed as a 'sport' but it is not enough to get your fit. Look at Clarkson! Now get over it.

6e. Static Bikes, Air Walkers, Abdominators etc.... If it is a piece of exercise equipment advertised on daytime cable TV it will be shite. Shite I tell you!

6f. Cardio & Crunches. Cardio is a continuum. Stay at the shorter intense range. Great abs are made in the kitchen. Crunchies are higher up my list than crunches.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Tuesday Workout

I went to the gym with an aim of getting around 4 sets of 15 reps with about 4 minutes rest between any one particular exercise. In practice I fell well short of this as I tried to crush everything down in to 30 minutes; 3 sets of 12 or so reps and 5 minutes of rest. Still it felt tough!

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25 mins)
1a) Sprints (15s:50s x 4)

2a) Agility Figure Eights (2x4 laps between goal posts)

Handstand/walk almost to failure - for fun!

3a) Dumbell Press (10kg, 15, 12, 12)
3b) Tucked Lever (3x20s)
3c) BackBridge (3x20s)
3d) Straddle RLLs (8, 7, 7)
3e) Planche (3x20s)

*PM: I did the following:
1a) MU Pyramid (2, 3, 4)
2b) Laddering/Deadhanging (120s)

As usual I did 3a-3e as a mini-circuit and made three passes through this circuit. I left the gym feeling a bit more exhausted than usual.

I have started to notice a change in my physique. I think I am becoming more defined and I am not sure whether this is due to hypertrophy or fat loss. I am 80kg and my diet remains unchanged. I have been eating a bit less chocolate (the last Easter egg was chomped a fortnight or so ago) and guess I might have turned the paleo screw a bit.

Another change is in the Lau Gar. Last night I was particularly sharp and am not sure if this is due to an improvement in skill or some other factor such as strength or simply motivation. I was fasted (but had had less coffee than normal during the day) - I was still grinding my teeth as usual prior to the session - which usually feels like it helps with the sharpness.

It seems that the emphasis of my fitness-journey has changed a bit of late. At first I was originally aiming to get stronger through my training. But, given the sets and reps structure I use and the number of exercises I use - all of which is squashed in to a 30min period, I am certainly not following 'approved' or optimal ways of achieving this goal.

I am finding that progress is slow with some forms - such as the planche. However I AM progressing. This leads me to appreciate what I am achieving. I can see physical improvement and I do feel 'broadly' stronger - but I am becoming increasingly disinclined to stick to a rep and set scheme for any length of time, not to stick to only a few exercises.

Effectively, if I am nailing exercises that basically cover those same muscles targeted during a press up, pull up, military press, row and sprinting, then I am happy that I am hitting those areas of my body for broad-spectrum upper-body strength.

Generalisation is becoming increasingly important to me; drawing me in. I am not sure where this will go but it is a path I am happy to follow. Motivation is high. Through density and load I am maintaining intensity. There is progress.

I have listed different 'flavours' of my routines to the right of this page (currently numbered 1 to 8). I do want to focus more on handstands, planches and levers short term, but reckon I can come up with a few more productive flavours and simply cycle through them.

It is all a bit chaotic and random - but this feels good.

Monday, 8 June 2009

The Importance of Play

It is a standard message from the paleo-crowd that 'play' should form a pillar of your life. This is quite a profound message given the physical benefits of vigorous play, the mental benefits from the fun of play and the wider skill development it implies.

Viewed against the barren and unstimulating environment of the modern gym (hey, have you seen the number of screens and mirrors they put in gyms to distract you from boredom and to lure you in to narcissistic motivation), play has full paleo credentials.

I found an interesting film on TED that discusses the importance of play. It is well worth 25' 42" of your life!

Simon Singh

I am not sure if many of you are aware of the atrocious state of British libel laws, but to cut a long story short, Singh has criticised the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) over some of their claims. Specifically, Singh wrote:

  • "The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments."
The BCA in turn have taken legal action against Singh, who, under the UK libel laws, is required to prove his innocence. The case hinges on the word 'bogus' (which the Cambridge Dictionary defines as 'false, not real or not legal').

For anyone who buys in to the paleo concept, this case could have massive ramifications in the resistance against those that maintain and profit from the content of the current food pyramid.

Click on the button below for further details.

free debate

You can download a button like the one above here. Paste it on to your blog/site and help spread the word. Science is unlikely to progress via the law courts. Scientific progress comes from the lab/scientific method!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Friday Bouldering

Last night I hooked up with a few mates at the local climbing wall. My strength seems to be at its usual level. Even though my climbing volume has dropped off compared to a few years ago, the session-intensity is still there and the strength remains.

I do feel as if my finger strength has plateaued due to the nature of my current training, and I am sure that there is more strength to be had!

The Body By Science concept of time under load (TUL), is applied in climbing under the notion of deadhanging. Armed with a greater understanding of the physiology involved here (and particularly an understanding of 'sequential recruitment' and the durations involved), I am trying to incorporate some of the BBS training patterns to my deadhanging routines.

I feel strong, but am determined to get stronger!

Wild Walking
We have been hit with some really wet weather of late. Although I have been wearing the 5Fingers extensively of late, today's walk in the woods with my kids was done in traditional walking boots.

It would have proved an ideal test for the 5Fingers and of my paleo-credentials, but sadly the body was weak.

I think I will get a second pair to facilitate muddy walking conditions and to corner myself in to taking a more primal approach to such matters.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Barefoot

Having taken the plunge and bought a pair of outrageously priced Vibram 5Fingers last week, I can report that they are very comfortable and entirely functional. I have milled around in them for a few days and tried sprinting and jumping.

They are becoming the paleo-footwear of choice and I was initially sceptical of them as they are in danger of becoming a badge of lifestyle de rigeur. However, whilst I don't feel my athletic prowess has improved, it is surprising that a design so radical from traditional training shoes should NOT be detrimental to mobility.

There is an interesting article available here (apologies - I don't normally read the Daily Mail). I like the following question,

  • "[I]f running shoes don't make you go faster and don't stop you from getting hurt, then what, exactly, are you paying for? What are the benefits of all those microchips, thrust enhancers, air cushions, torsion devices and roll bars?"

This in turn is based upon the research of Dr Craig Richards whose blog can be found here. Its content certainly gives food for thought and is well worth reading. You have got to like a guy who stands up to the $20bn running shoe industry and asks:

  • "Is any shoe manufacturer prepared to claim that wearing their running shoes will improve your distance running performance?If you are prepared to make these claims, where is your peer reviewed data to back it up?Stay tuned...I have my legal team standing by!"
Another review comes courtesy of Runners World, here. What is interesting about the RW review is the comment that during a tempo run "[at] six miles, though, my toes begin to ache, my legs start tiring--time to call it a successful run."

Hmmmm, seems to me that maybe we are not designed to run steady state at a moderately fast pace for long distances. What do you think? At least he listened to his body.

In sport and nutrition it seems to me that technological advance does not equate to progress. I am ever more inclined to live 'closer to the ground' and follow my paleo-compass.

Just as a quick update - there is an alternative to the Vibram Five Fingers range in the shape of 'FeelMax' footwear.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Monday Negatives

Today was VERY hot - the hottest of the year so far. It made for a tough workout, despite significant hydration beforehand. The goal with this workout was to get to around 6 reps but to make the last two reps negatives. This might involve swapping exercises totally (such as military press to hands stand lowers). The aim being to fight the negative phase!

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25 mins)
1a) Sprints (15s:50s x 5)

2a) Hand Stand Press Ups/One Arm Dumbell Press to Handstand Lowers (Neg)
2b) Lever (15s) to One Arm Bent Over Dumbell Rows (Neg)
2c) BackBridge (15s)
2d) RLLs
2e) Planche (15s)

I cycled through 2a-2e four times, giving me about 4-5 minutes rest between any one individual exercise.

The HSPUs felt very difficult, but the backbridges in particular came with ease. The difficulty of the RLLs was controlled by the speed of the raising and lowering of my legs and using straddle.

Progress is hard to measure given the variation in sets and reps that I am currently using. Each workout I have done of late requires significant effort and leaves me sore the next day, so in terms of effort, I believe there is enough work being done to cause adaption.

I have to say I am just not interested or inclined to measure stuff. I am moving to a training model where I have a broad idea of sets and reps, with an aim of controlling density - fitting everything in to a 30 minutes session. But in terms of weight moved, I cannot be bothered to be bound to this. I just want to feel that I have pushed things in terms of difficulty and effort demanded.

As I would prefer to climb - and given these workouts place on the upper body, I am only doing one gym workout a week at the moment. This should allow me one 'broad spectrum' give-all climbing session and some shorter 'fingerwork' sessions.

I am not sure of the wisdom of restricting myself to 30 minutes of intensive, demanding physical body weight activity once a week, but it is tiring me out for a few days and so seems to be 'enough'. It also provides enough in the tank for my other physical pursuits.