Monday, 30 November 2009

Climbing Workout

A real cold night - but I find the ritual of unlocking the garage and hanging the rings builds the excitement and anticipation of the hard work to come!

I was up for this session, but fatigue came quickly in the reps. Still, better to back off and adjust accordingly. I pushed closer in to failure last week, so am happy to back of tonight.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25 mins)
1a) Sprint (12s, 12s)/Pistols* (6 per leg)
1b) L-Sit Muscle Ups to Basic Ring Routine to Tuck Lever (3MUs, 3MUs, 2MUs)
1c) Fingerboard Laddering

2a) Ring Cuts to Splits Combination (4, 4, 4)
2b) Frog/Tuck Planche (14s, 7s, 7s)
2c) Deadhang Repeaters (3a:7r:120s on small rungs)

The reps were done quite slowly, particular cut/split exercises. I have modified my basic ring routine to put a few inverted pull ups in to the exercise and with more emphasis on my pretty poor back-lever. (Damn those long legs)

The sprints were tonight's surprise advance. I really felt like I had fast-feet and pushed on a few extra strides with ease. The tuck planche felt more locked-in than usual as well.

Looking back over my training log it is great to see the ebb and flow of performance. Sometimes I hit a new high out of nowhere, other times I just don't seem to fire on a particular exercise. But I roll with it. When these highs fail to come I will show more concern.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Why Do You Do What You Do?

Theory to Practice got me thinking about why we train. For most of us it is probably to get back some 'hustle' having fallen in to poor physical state having followed:

1) a path of diet and exercise as prescribed by modern life (ie refined carbohydrate foods and minimal exercise), or,

2) from having followed a path of diet and exercise as prescribed by modern ideas of diet and exercise (ie low fat/complex carb eating along with chronic exercise of high volume)

We see a picture of some well-honed dude or some lean woman and we think "I want to look like that". Maybe we are going on holiday and the shame of what we might look like on the beach spurs us on similarly.

This is actually quite a limited case when it comes to those 'drivers' which push us to train and is suggestive of quite a poor state of health - much poorer than simply physical degradation would suggest. Let's be honest, if you are driven to train as a result of simple disgust at your appearance then, bloody hell, you MUST be in bad shape.

Early Drivers
The reason for my thinking can be illustrated thus. Look at infants. They are two weak to do much - but over time, instinctively, they reach a little further, roll over, learn to hold their head up, stand, walk and then run. The train 'each day', pushing themselves - and if tired, do less/rest more. Other days they play longer and harder.

This progress requires an increase in strength. No one comes up with a training program or meso- cycle for these little dudes. It is all instinctive. We are wired to move.

Now maybe this is the predator factor ("If you are being chased by a lion, you don't have to be faster than the lion, only faster than your mate!"). Maybe it is something to do with hunting - the freshest and richest food is big, strong and dangerous.

Whatever it is, for me, here is the lesson. Once again it is about listening to your body. Ignoring peer pressure or slavishly following some training plan. Sure you have to have some kind of handle on what you are doing and where you are going, but we have all become damn strong and skilled simply by responding to innate cues.

When you see an infant learning to walk, what is compelling it to keep pushing on? There is some innate desire. The TTP article illustrated a similar compulsion to do more than what was prescribed by a particular training protocol.

Those cues always seem to exist in some form. We are drawn towards physical pursuits as spectator if not participants. Think about the draw of a major football match, the Olympic 100m final, the Rumble in the Jungle. Team sports may have a tribal element that attracts, but watching Usain Bolt?

When you think of training like this, you realise how one dimensional 'shame' is as a driver for fitness. The corollary is that if you want to flip like Damien Walters, sprint like Usain Bold or hit a tennis ball like Roger Federer then make some space for this in your life. Don't be chained to some schedule or program, respond to these cues.

Remember to keep listening - if you remain healthy, injury free and motivated, then keep it up. Forcing yourself to train should be an extraordinary thing.

If you are still subject to these forces, if you still have an energy that makes you want to squeeze a bit more from life, then you are in a good place!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Get It On

It must be the time of year, but I have noticed the arrival of winter blues around me. Folks complaining of aching, of it being to cold, of being too old, of targets unmet and objectives unfulfilled. And then, the BIG question; "What's the point?"

First some basics:
A little reminder from one of my earlier posts on why I think we should train - "if we take care of ourselves it means we travel first class. If we abuse our bodies....well, we are going to find it pretty uncomfortable in cattle-class and the journey is long enough!"

Travelling first class is your birthright. Your ancestors did it. Outside of first class you travelled by digestive system. Modern life allows you to travel below first-class. Waaaay below. The destination is the same - although travelling in one of the lower classes may get your there quicker - if you are lucky. You don't want to be travelling in cattle-class for long.

Now some pointers:
1) F**k the scales. Get rid of them.
2) F**k sets and reps - just see them as a means of 'broadly directing' your training, but don't be a slave to them.

When we have an objective of lifting a given load, achieving a certain weight or completing certain sets and reps it is easy to set yourself up for 'negative feedback' where you end up focusing on your shortcoming against that target.

Survival in the wild had no such targets or goals apart from (and in no particular order):

1) Escape
2) Eat
3) Shag

Now lets look at that list - most of us can ignore objective one. We have all ticked objective two, and most of us should be nailing rule three at least some of the time (and to the non-monogamous of you, depending on how you are achieving '3', this might be related to '1').

So in terms of paleo goals - the goals that REALLY matter, we're all winners! And why wouldn't you be a winner - your parents were, as were ALL your ancestors. That is REAL feedback, NOT some negativity based upon the fact that you wanted to complete 10 reps and you only did 9.

Armed with this world view, you should now see that sets and reps are just a means of trying to ensure the randomness and variation in exertions that fate would bring simply in fulfilling those three paleo objectives. Nice and simple eh?

Now sure there is a time and a place to look at loads, RM Max, weight and stuff like that (without the visceral feedback of "Phew that was close/I've escaped" you need some handle on your efforts), but personally I think as long as you have discharged a bit of "grrrrrr" once or twice a week using a few basic lifts and sprints, you are getting it right.

Removing indicators suggestive of a kind of failure (sets and reps), you remove at least one source of negativity from your life. Such measures make it hard for you not to focus on some perceived notion of shortcoming, rather than allowing you to just 'be' and 'do'.

Of course outside of sets and reps, there are other forms of paleo feedback - these are to do with chronic measures such as "am I injured", "am I continually sick have prolonged colds" or "do I have my 'training mojo'"?

In this state you are not trying to micro-manage your body. You couldn't if you wanted to anyway. You are simply trying to recreate key signals from our evolutionary past and delegating the rest to the body below. We might not know explicitly what these signals are or were but if you have health and can fast comfortably for 24 hours on a workout day, then from a nutrition point of view I'd wager you are heading in the right direction.

For me, the ability to fast for 24 hours and train fasted is the single most plausible and credible support for paleo eating and how it should be defined.

This same paleo philosophy should encourage you to introduce novelty in to your workouts. By this, I don't mean to jump on to the latest fat-burning/hypertrophy workout using some crappy plastic ab-training kit. Simply think of the basic planes of motion and how you can engage them. This could mean replacing a military press with throwing rocks or handstands.

I will also mention the gaps between 1, 2 and 3. These are very important and should be filled with play, socialising and relaxing pursuits. Progress is rooted in health which necessitates patience. Grow your mind. Feed your soul.

Great Grandma Asclepius says that when I look at her I see an old woman, but inside, she still feels 18. As I get older I can appreciate this more an more. But whereas that 18 year old would sprint for a bus, leap a wall or climb a tree, and although in her mind Great Grandma Asclepius still wants to run for a bus or swim in a river, she is trapped in an un-able body.

That difference between that ambition/will, and what you are physically capable of, should be YOUR measure of your own physical health.

ADV expresses it best:"When the difference between the most you can do and the least you can do merges, you're dead."

Reverse Pyramid Workout

Maaaan - those Lau Gar session are definitley a-hurting. I like them but have to take it careful with my other workouts.

I have stripped this workout right back in response. It is still hard, fucking hard, as I am using reverse pyramid training (championed by Mike Mentzer no less), but the whole routine is short!

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (15mins)
1) Rowing (L7, 500m, 1'40")
2) Weighted Chins (4 reps)
3) Deadlift (3x90%RM)
4) Kneel Backs (60s)
5) Weighted Chins (6 reps with 10% less weight than in the last set)
6) Deadlift (4 reps with 10% less weight than in the last set)
7) Kneel Backs (60s)
8) Chin Ups ('just short of failure')

Just go from 1 to 8! This means the whole workout has two sets of deadlifts and three sets of chins. The kneel backs are rests. Shimples.

I had intended to do sprints but as it was very wet (which makes running outdoors in Vibram 5ingers uncomfortable - especially when you come back indoors), I opted for the rower.

I might do a bit more climbing specific stuff in the evening - but it will be fingers only. No gymnastics until next week!

Hot Air

Here is story to set the paleo alarm bells ringing! Driving in to work this morning I caught a news item about how a government think-tank had been asked to think laterally and solve two key problems. I pissed myself laughing .... until I realised that it was 'factual'.

Before I give you the 'problem', let me give you the 'solution'. The problem was to kill 30% of all sheep and cows in Britain. The effect of this was to save the environment and to make us healthier.

The reasoning? Well, the reasoning was as follows:
  • The theory goes like this: if you have less ruminant livestock, you emit less climate-damaging methane into the atmosphere.
    You also have less meat to eat, which means less saturated fat in our diets and thus less heart disease.
Next time you see Gordon Brown climbing out of his chauffeur driven Jaguar, you might want to reflect on both the notion of ill health and pollution.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Climbing Specific Routine

I am still trying to balance out and adjust my training in the face of the demands of Lau Gar. Short and hard is the training mantra of the moment - oh, and listening to my body. But the Lau Gar session comes AFTER this workout - so tonight could be interesting!

The aim is three passes through 1a-1c and then three sets of 2a-2c. Reps are not absolute - but best not go much above them. Move slower on the negative phase to ensure you tire before hitting the target - except for the MUs where you should aim for 5-8 reps on each set.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (20 mins)
1a) Sprint (10s, 10s)/Pistols* (6 per leg)
1b) L-Sit Muscle Ups to Basic Ring Routine to Tuck Lever (3MUs, 3MUs, 3MUs)
1c) Fingerboard Laddering

2a) Ring Cuts to Splits Combination (6, 6, 6)
2b) Tuck Planche (6s, 6s, 5s)
2c) Deadhang Repeaters (3a:7r:120s on small rungs)

*Notice the move from sprints for two sets to pistols on the final set

It was a cold, wet night so the prospect of completing a workout was not that appealing. But after the first sprint I felt like it was 'game-on!". At the risk of repeating myself, for me there is no better statement of intent to your body than a sprint ("un-corking the champagne")!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Superdiets

Diet. The very word is loaded with debilitating baggage. Of all the burdened terms, none goes as heavily laden as Atkins. Sadly for the paleo crowd, we get lumped in with Atkins.

Today's Observer has an interesting article titled "Superdiets? They're just a fairytale, says top doctor". Now believe that paleo eating is deemed faddish by the wider population but check out what our 'top doctor' (Professor Chris Hawkey, president of the British Society of Gastroenterology), has to say about the Atkins diet which he concedes '...is one of the few that carries at least a small amount of evidence':
  • "It is not terribly healthy in the sense that you are going to have a lot of fat, but if you lose weight then it is a good thing," he said. "The theory is that it resets the metabolic rate and there is some science to back that up."
So although he makes recourse to mainstream fat phobia, and although he implies that eating fat does not make us fat, he can at least see the benefit of this approach. It would be nice to ask him why eating a lot of fat is 'not terribly healthy'.

He does favour the 'balanced diet' developed by nutritionist Esther Blum, who '...advocates eating full-fat foods in moderation to help metabolise cholesterol and to improve sex drive'.

So clearly when Esther Blum recommends eating full-fat foods, it is good. But Atkins' endorsement of fat is bad. Blum suggests that the fitness industry is premised on failure (I blogged about this same idea over a year ago), and suggests we should not look at foods as good and bad, and to accepts some fat in our lives.

Reading between the line I still think she sees fat as bad, but reckons we can have success by allowing ourselves to enjoy it.

Personally I think any success comes from the fact that 'animal fat' is NOT bad and that as it is pleasurable and satiating, allowing people to eat it is the REASON Blum's diet works for some - rather than her idea that “A little self-acceptance goes a long way to softening our own critical voice, which can serve as a barrier to helping us reach our goals.” She does nail it on the exercise front though, viewing it as “an opportunity, not a punishment.”

Amen to that!

So now we have growing acceptance that eating fat can make us thinner. All we need do now is tackle the notion that eating fat will NOT clog up our arteries.

Round two. Ding! Ding!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Static Dynamic Routine

This workout is perhaps my favourite....I mean I like ALL my workouts - they contain variety, novelty and a good general challenge. But this workout has that 'tension' as I make the move from the static exercise to the dynamic.

I know during that transition that I am a few seconds away from SERIOUS physical demand that requires real focus and application.

Wam Up (5 mins)
Main (25 mins)
1a) Rowing (1x500m, level 7, 28spm: 1'35")

2a) Chair Sit (60s) to Pillar Jumps (2x10)
2b) Handstand (2x60s) to Alternate One Arm 3kg Medicine Ball Throws (2x10 - 20 in total per rep)

3a) Lever (5s) to Chin Ups (3 x to failure - 12, 8, 6)
3b) RLLs (Straight Leg - 1x5)/Deadlift (1x5 RM to 'almost failure' with > BW weights)

The rowing is really an extension of the warm up. The 'meat & potatoes' occurs in parts 2 and 3.

Section two, performed as a pair, involves three lots of 2a and two sets of 2b. The same goes for section three. So for example, for section three I start with the Lever and Pull Up (L2PU) combination, and then move to RLLs. Second time through I do L2PUs and then move to Deadlifts. I complete with a set of L2PUs only.

Rest as necessary between groups of exercises (so between 1 and 2, and 2 and 3). But no excessive intra-set rests!

As always the emphasis is on the negative phase of the exercise - particularly with pull ups. Also with PUs, you need to pull up so your neck is well above the bar and lower to almost straight arms. Use that full range of motion. Oh yeah - and NO kipping or wild swinging.

With the Medicine Ball throws, explode that ball upwards on EVERY throw with everything you have. Try to catch it one handed as well - with the same hand. You should experience failure by the 10th rep - if not then first, throw harder and higher, and if that does not work, use a heavier weight.

The planches have been pushed to the climbing/sport specific workouts but reckon I should move them to part of my Lau Gar warm up.

Brutal!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The Shopping List

There is an old drinking game I used to play as a student which involved sitting in a circle with a group of friends. It was called 'The Shopping List'. One person names an item of shopping such as "Butter". The person to his/her left would then repeat the list thus-far and then name an additional item ("milk"), and so it would go on around the circle - where each person in turn had to repeat the list correctly and add an additional item.

Failure to repeat the list would involve a drink related punishment and the task of repeating the list once again would fall to the previous participant. If s/he failed the process was repeated.

My Lau Gar instructor has recently adopted a similar approach to training which is based upon the Shopping List game above. If you need a short, tough workout, then try this:

The Exercise

Select five exercises. I suggest 1) Skipping, 2) Crunches, 3) Press Ups, 4) Burpees, 5)Pull Ups.

The aim is to do exercise one for 30s and then rest 30s. The repeat exercise one for 30s, move straight to exercise two and then rest for a further 30s. Round three means repeating exercise one for 30s, exercise two for 30s, exercise three for 30s and then rest for 30s. And so it goes on until you have completed all five exercises.

This should be the hardest ten minutes of your life. You can vary the exercise choice to emphasise a body part, or you can shorten the rests, extend the duration of the exercise or add another iteration of exercise - as long as you maintain intensity throughout.

Changes

Given the nature of current Lau Gar workouts I think I might have to re-plan my training to allow rest and recovery but also to allow me to achieve my goals - particularly the gymnastic ones, AND allow me to climb and fight.

Calvin advised some time ago that I try a form of synaptic facilitation (Clarence Bass covers this in detail here), which is a form of Pavel's 'greasing the groove' approach to training. I think now might be the time for me to try this approach. I need to put some time in to accommodating the demands I make upon my body.

As always I know that I am trying to cover many bases, but confident of how I understand feedback, I should be able to pull something effective together!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

The 'Stupid', it Burns!

So, anyone out there following government nutritional guidelines would appear to have been eating 400 less calories than appropriate!
  • The recommended daily intake of calories could be increased by up to 16%, a draft report by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition said.

It just drives me crazy that anyone would realistically think you can simply 'choose' to stop short or over shoot your body's daily requirement of calories without some kind of compensatory factor kicking in.

Bit of Bouldering

Just did some bouldering at the local wall today. I have definitely maintained much of my strength even thought the volume of climbing I have been doing this year has fallen rapidly.

My strength felt good but I was not pulling on holds as small as usual for as long as usual. I thinkthat this might be as much to do with my increased weight over the past year. Bigger thighs are no use in the vertical!

I felt tired yesterday so skipped the planned workout. Monday's rope-climbing was clearly brutal. I could feel it in my back and shoulders for the following two days and knew even on Friday that I was below baseline. I should be stoked for something next week - reckon I might train on a different day and see what happens. As always, I will try to listen to my body and let it guide me.

Importantly, today was all about 'play'. Mixing with friends with some good natured banter.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The Hospital

The last post enclosed this quote:
  • Anyone who caught Channel 4’s ‘The Hospital’ will probably never eat carbohydrates again. At one point, the lead doctor in the show – who spends his days fixing gastric bands to supersized patients - belted out an inspired tirade against ‘beige’ foods; crisps, potatoes and bread among other things.
I went in search of the actual program which you can see here. It is quite funny that despite a room full of experts (doctors, surgeons, nutritionists), meeting streams of people who are fat despite dieting and pursuing lots of exercise, they still think it is "calories in vs calories out" and a lack of self discipline that is the problem.

The quote about beige kicks in at 12'30" but even this doctor responsible for this incisive comment seems to believe you can simply restrict calories or increase calories out to lose fat. Hmmm - can these guys prove this approach works? Are they sure that reducing 'calories in' in a complex biological organism will NOT cause a compensatory and involuntary reduction in calories out?

It does sound controversial that a fat person is, at a cellular level, in calorific balance, but they are. If you can't access your fat stores then you can be fat and starving. Starving people will eat. Hunger is a powerful driver. From an evolutionary perspective those that did not respond to this signal died. Simple as.

At 23' comes a really nasty part where the 'experts' just CANNOT believe that at least one of the patients is lying about her diet and exercise (they are accused of lying by the narrator). The whole thing is pushed largely in to the realm of psychology.

Where exercise is found to work there is no conclusion drawn beyond the idea that calories out were increased and so burned off the fat. Such an explanation ignores the consequence of exercise on insulin sensitivity....

The broad advice is to follow our old friend "the balanced diet". N'owt worse than a mistake repeated eh?

Beige

My default Homepage on my home PC is to MSN. I often cast a casual eye over it, but every so often I get drawn in - usually to the health news. Today I got pulled in to this article on aging and nutrition.

As (the few) regular readers will kwow, I am sucked in by confirmation bias! This article is no exception, ticking all the paleo boxes including inferences to AGEs and so forth.

What is significant, and the reason I post, are the two sections copied below. They really go to illustrate the wider and growing awareness of the 'tenets of paleo'.

Anyone who has visited the legendary Arthur De Vany's website will be aware of his caveats about eating 'beige' food. Well this very term cropped up on MSN:
  • "Anyone who caught Channel 4’s ‘The Hospital’ will probably never eat carbohydrates again. At one point, the lead doctor in the show – who spends his days fixing gastric bands to supersized patients - belted out an inspired tirade against ‘beige’ foods; crisps, potatoes and bread among other things. Carbohydrates are an essential part of your diet, but they do make you put on weight (especially if you do little exercise) so do not overdo it and always go for natural rather than processed sources, which contain more sugar. Too many carbs also make you feel – and appear – drowsy: never a good look."
The MSN article goes on to kick soya:
  • "Once hailed as a food with a long list of superpowers, health experts are now questioning whether soya could in fact pose a serious health risk. Research in Japan (a country which should know a thing or too about soya) suggests that high levels of soy-based products can play havoc with your thyroid gland, leading to major weight gain and fatigue. Soya apparently blocks the uptake of the chemical iodine, which keeps your thyroid healthy. And it is not as easy to avoid as you would think; it is estimated that soya is found in 60% of processed foods, including breakfast cereals, cheese, cakes, noodles, soups, and sandwich spreads. Experts recommend limiting intake and eating natural, unprocessed foods to avoid any problems."
I get the 'piss' taken out of me more than most for my paleo philosophy. I have quite a few critics who trot out the old 'balanced diet' shite and think that because they are thin (skinny fat in reality), they must be 'OK'. But, it should not escape us that the 'consensus' is definitely coming round to our way of thinking in all but name.

Let them mock...I am not for turning.

Post-HG Lifestyle

Ever wondered what happens when a hunter-gatherer (HG), stops hunting? Sure you could read the works of Weston Price or Vilhjalmur Stefansson, but I think I have found a better example:

Monday, 9 November 2009

Monday Climbing Focus

Friday evenings finger training didn't materialise. But I was psyched for this session. I like the kill carry work and rope climbing is always challenge which can force you to 'writhe' upwards working much of your torso.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25* mins)
1a) Sprint (3x10s)
1b) Tuck Planch (6s, 6s, failure)
1c) Lever (6s, 6s, failure)

2a) Ring Cuts (3x6 each way)
2b) Rope Climb to Cirques (2 'laps')

3a) Kill Carry* (5 minutes of walking with a shouldered punch bag - 35kg)

4a) Fingerboarding

I made three passes through each group of exercises (except '3a' and '4a' of which I completed one pass of each), completing the exercises in one group before moving on to the next.

Rope climbing involved steady climbing both up and down the rope with the legs extended in an L-Sit fashion. The lowering involved Cirques. Such 'locking off' can really 'bone' your elbow joint - so take it steady with these! I felt a slight ache in my right forearm and so eased things as neccessary.

The sprinting and planche/lever work was ably assisted by Captain Kid - estending this phase by some time, but it was a good laugh. I give her a head start on the sprints but will have to look at shortening her advantage!

I can really feel this session. The rope climbing was particularly tough - but this may be due to my increased weight.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Dynamic Workout

So this was one of my first gym workouts with the intention of pushing in to failure on the last rep. I usually walk out of the gym with enough gas to 'escape a predator' but the pistols and rows to failure ensured that I would probably end up as tiger food today - although wit and wisdom might just save me.

Warm Up (5 Mins)
Main (20 Mins)
1a) Row (500m, level 7, 1min 35)

2a) Alternate One-Arm Dumbell Snatch/Assisted Pistol + Dumbell Press (18kg 2x15 - last set to failure, 1x15 + 16kg x 8)
2b) Back Bridge (3x15s)

3a) One Arm Dumbell Rows (15, 10, 10 x 18kg)

I am once again trying to cover too many bases and need to reorganise how I label my routines! As the main workout was pretty taxing, the evening workout will just focus on training the fingers with some supplementary stretch/strength work on the legs.

The main workout is now devoid of planche and lever work as this now features in my Monday session. The leg exercise in this workout now involves planching to failure in less than 20 reps - a la Mike Mentzer (but with a few more sets). I have also dropped 'walking on hands' as this whole routine is pretty shoulder intensive and I want to maintain that focus on intensity!

I couldn't wait for this workout! I was TOTALLY stoked. It lived up to its billing as it was brief, hard and had enough variety to keep me entertained ;)

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Climbing Workout (Growth)

My climbing workout has evolved once again - this time, to allow me on occasion to push myself in to physical exhaustion. At the moment I want to intersperse this kind of workout with my Hunt-oriented workouts.

I completed three sets through each group of exercises. Form was maintained throughout. The first two sets were completed to a point of where mentally I felt I could not complete another complete rep. The third and final set was completed to momentary muscular failure.

The negative portion of each exercise was always done under strict control and slower than the positive phase.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (20 mins)

1a) Sprint (10s, 10s, 15s)
1b) L-Sit Muscle Ups to Basic Ring Routine to Tuck Lever (6MUs, 4MUs, 3MUs)
1c) Fingerboard Laddering

2a) Ring Splits (6, 6, 5)
2b) Tuck Planche (6s, 6s, 5s)
2c) Deadhang Repeaters (3a:7r:120s on small rungs)

The shorter grouping allowed me to mentally REALLY focus on each exercise - and working on the final sets to a point of failure gave me firm feedback of my level of exertion.

Shoving all the gymnastic stuff in to this workout feels good - and as long as I alternate between my hunt workout (which I might tweak further), I look forwards to how this change of approach will manifest itself.

Certainly I am aching deeply today from this new intensity. I am also hungry for Fridays dabble with resistance. Both are good indicators.

These workouts are often completed fasted. On a Monday I don't eat until 2200hrs - and I manage both the workout above and my Lau Gar session in complete comfort with regards to my appetite. Mentally I feel it gives me an edge.

Variety eh? The spice of life.

Growth - Plan B

So our ancestors were shaped by 'wild' forces. Unpredictable by nature. There was no program to follow, no 'meso-cycle' or 'progression' - just the unpredictable demands of survival married to to and ability to adapt.

I try to keep variety in my workouts. Over the course of a week I hit the basic planes of motion (vertical pull/press, horizontal row/press, leg press), coupled with a few static holds and some sprints. Add in a few big lifts (including those that go above your head, and some carry work and "job's a good-un".

Your body does not really know the difference between many of the exercises used - a Military Press or a HSPU...the body just knows it is having to work and which muscles are required to do that work.

But your body is shrewd. It does not want the overhead of growing bigger with its associated increase in metabolic expense. Its first line of adaption is to increase efficiency - to make better use of what it has. Growth is at best best your body's plan B. Your body will only grow so if it is challenged appropriately - if it HAS to.

Although I have kept away from 'going to failure', in retrospect I think I am too often stopping well short of where the most gains can be made. I like working out in a short and intense fashion, but it is often a kind of aerobic exhaustion that gets me (the traditional 'cardio' idea), as much as anything approaching muscular failure.

Now this has made me pretty lean and mean (IMHO), but I am curious as to whether I could get a bit bigger. In going paleo I have grown some - I sit at about 80kg most of the time from a pre-paleo mode of 77kg, but most of this is probably to do with the increase in muscle in my legs and butt from sprinting.

So in the interests of experimentation, I am going to push a bit harder towards muscular failure and see where that takes me....of course function remains my primary goal!