Sunday, 30 September 2012

RPT Wk1 W/O1

I think I will stick with an RPT program for the next phase.  I brought my last cycle to an end simply to fit in a fight (Lau Gar).  As a consequence, I took last week very lightly - deloading by cutting sets rather than backloading weights or cutting reps.

This phase I might experiment with bicarbonate of soda as an ergogenic.  Diet wise I am still mindful of daily macronutrients but foodgroups are 'paleo' and there is no calorie counting per se - although trying to eat to macro ratios imposes some limit.  Although often I am eating a bit more than my appetite leads me to do.

My raspberry canes are groaning under the weight of fruit so cheesecake has been high on my list of foodstuffs.  The digestive base makes it particularly non-paleo, but heck, I don't sweat this stuff.  If I am going to eat 'crapinabag' I just do it.  As a proportion of my diet it is largely insignificant and only features for limited time in my diet.  You've got to go with the seasons at times like this.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (30 minutes).
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Planche Variations (25s, 25s, 25s)
3. Barefoot Sprinting (1x15s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
4. Rope Climb (2)
5a. MU to Ring Routine (2, 2).
5b. Scissor Splits (3x '2L, 2R, 2C') 
6. Weighted Barefoot Kill Carry (1)
7. Fingerboard Routine (10min)

Friday, 28 September 2012

Bad Science: Negative Data

If you read my post on Bad Pharma you will be aware of Ben Goldacre.  Goldacre looks like the result of an experimental high-energy collision in the Large Hadron Collider between Ron Weasly and Brian May, but make no mistake - he is a sharp cookie.  Here he gives a talk about the quality of drug trials and how they often fall short of the scientific standards you'd expect (a theme that underlies the thrust of his book 'Bad Pharma').
  • When a new drug gets tested, the results of the trials should be published for the rest of the medical world -- except much of the time, negative or inconclusive findings go unreported, leaving doctors and researchers in the dark. In this impassioned talk, Ben Goldacre explains why these unreported instances of negative data are especially misleading and dangerous.

Too Fat to Fight

Copyright WIRED magazine

Both US and China's military leaders are facing up to potential problems with recruiting battle-fit recruits  Wired reports,
  • The state-controlled China Daily reported Wednesday that China’s National People’s Congress is loosening the standards for overweight recruits in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). China’s wanna-be soldiers can now super-size that order of szechuan beef without fear of discrimination as long they don’t tip the scales further than 25 percent of the  normal weight requirements — a 5 percent uptick from last year.
 Reports suggest that 25% of Chinese are overweight or obese.  The US ex-military are launching an initiative to address this problem,
  • At the intersection of fat-shaming and war-mongering comes a bizarre public health campaign: an effort by retired generals and admirals to ban sugary sodas and snacks from public schools. The kids today, say the former brass, are too fat to fight for their country.
 There is even talk of transplanting brown fat to obese soldiers in a bid to tackle this problem

Another light workout.

I am still exhausted from last weekends acitivies so today will be very short and sharp.&nbsp.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (20 minutes)
1. Handstand Variations (air squats + side lunges, front lunges + floor touches, front/side/turning kicks, Low Kicks + Reverse Kicks)
2. Manna Progression (3)
3. Deadlift (5/6x130)

Shoulder Pre-habilitation
6. External Shoulder Rotations (10)
7. External Shoulder Rotations (10)

Weight: 79*

Thursday, 27 September 2012

More from Fat, Fate & Disease

More nuggets from Fat, Fate & Disease

Some (ongoing) research conducted by Southampton University which has followed several hundred children from birth, turns up some further interesting epigenetic effects - and it is bad news for Low Carb,
  • "The Southampton studies have shown clearly that birthweight is not the most important factor in setting the risk of chronic disease.  The thickness of the carotid artery of a child at nine years of age, an early and highly objective marker of risk of cardiovascular disease, was statistically related to low carbohydrate intake by the mother in late pregnancy, and this factor was independent of the child's birthweight."
Birth order seems to be a significant factor in obesity, with the first-born at a greater risk.  This is important as child mortality falls, families comprise fewer children and so more of the planet are 'first-born'.  In China this is particularly significant with its one-child policy,
  • "In the early 1950s, a doctor in Motherwell in southern Scotland made substantial recommendations about the diet that his women patients should eat during pregnancy.  The offspring were studied until they were 30...[Southampton University researchers] analysed how fat these 30-year-olds were from the point of view of whether they were first-born or not...those who were first-born have about 25 percent more body fat than those who were second or subsequent children.  More recently, data from Cesar Victora's group in Brazil have shown that first-born children are more likely to have higher blood pressure later." 
The Southampton research program mentioned above has gone in to significant analysis of body composition,
  • "In our first study we found that the degree of epigenetic change measured at birth in one particular gene, associated with the control of fat metabolism, explained about 25 per cent of the differences in body fat between children nine years later"
 This particular research was repeated in a second birth cohort study and supported the idea that methylation of a gene at one site determine likelihood of becoming obese more than genetic variation.  This methylation was identified within the umbilical cord (which had been sampled as part of the study), and firmly establishes the relationship between mother's diet and child's physiology.

Gut flora is another theme explored in the book,
  • "Generally these bugs inside our bodies are very useful.  They help by predigesting our food and play a major role in determining our nutrition and our metabolic health.  We know that people with diabetes have different patterns of gut bacteria.  We also know that how we develop this internal family of gut bacteria influences whether we get allergies..."
A quick aside here.  Just think how rapidly generations of bacteria pass in a single year of human life.  Now consider the fact that they are evolving and adapting to their environment (YOUR gut).  So now we can see a feedback mechanism; that your nutrition in particular,  and also your pattern of energy expenditure (and the hormonal milieu that follows), may well be affecting the epigenetics of your gut flora!  This change in gut flora may affect YOUR epigenetics.  Pretty incredible stuff.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Fat, Fate & Disease

In Fat, Fate and Disease by Peter Gluckman and Mark Hanson, we see an attempt to synthesise the scientific research from various sources in to one volume that explains why our current strategy is not working, drawing heavily from evolutionary biology and evolutionary theory.  As you'd expect, epigenetics are a big part of the puzzle.

They pull some interesting examples of epigenetic 'predictive, adaptive response' from various sources of the animal world.  The Pennsylvanian meadow vole for example, can be born in either spring or autumn, which determines the thickness of it coat of fur.  The type and density of its hair follicles are set before birth, but temperature clues are thin on the ground as the temperature in the womb is pretty consistent.  The trigger in this case are melatonin levels in the mother which reflect the length of day and so the season.  They also indicate how biological decisions early in development can be outside of our individual control.  Butterflies also pull a similar trick.  Their wing colour needs to reflect the seasonal colour of foliage.  In this case the temperature the larva is exposed to triggers the relevant epigenetic change.

Comet!

Heads up for a Christmas star!  Well, sort of.  New Scientist reports that a comet has recently been discovered which could eventually shine as brightly as the moon:
  • Skirting our star means that, to viewers on Earth, the comet will appear close to the horizon and to the sun's glare, making it difficult to see at first. ISON will fade but become easier to spot as it heads back towards the outer solar system. By 9 December it should be about as bright as Polaris, the North Star, according to Remanzacco Observatory astronomers. ISON should continue to be visible to the unaided eye until mid-January 2014.

    But veteran astronomers warn that fresh comets with orbits that almost skim the sun are notoriously unpredictable. Results can range from the spectacular comet McNaught of January 2007 to the infamously fizzled comet Kohoutek of 1973. 
Celestial phenomena like this is incredibly humbling.  I can't wait to let Captain Kid and Flash in on this news.  We can only hope that ISON delivers on its early promise.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Light Workout

After the weekend's high jinx in the ring, I am feeling pretty blown out. I need to wind things down for a week so today I am going to hit some pistols and Lau Gar forms, but generally keep things minimal.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (25 minutes)
1. Handstand Variation (air squats + side lunges, one legged floor touches + front lunges, front/side/turning kicks + hanging kicks)
2. Pistols (6x75kg)
3. OACs (5x60kg)

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Bad Pharma

There is something of a seismic shift going on in the UK.  Where once we revered celebrity chefs, Geek are now taking over the airwaves - or as I like to call them, intelligent people offering informative, educational media content. 

Ben Goldacre is one of a whole host of 'antiwoo', scientifically-minded people to have entered popular culture - following on from the likes of Feinman and Sagan, through Dawkins and Hitchens, and now alongside the likes of Brian Cox and Robin Ince.

Goldacre probably can't cook as well as 'Jamie', but when it comes to 'science', and in particular medical research Goldacre is one of the brightest guys out there.  I blogged some time ago about Bad Science, his first book, and he has now followed this up with Bad Pharma, an audacious expose of how the pharmaceutical industry is motivated largely by avarice, and how those quality gates at every level, designed to protect the patient, have proved largely worthless,
  • ‘Bad Science’ hilariously exposed the tricks that quacks and journalists use to distort science, becoming a 400,000 copy bestseller. Now Ben Goldacre puts the $600bn global pharmaceutical industry under the microscope. What he reveals is a fascinating, terrifying mess.

    Doctors and patients need good scientific evidence to make informed decisions. But instead, companies run bad trials on their own drugs, which distort and exaggerate the benefits by design. When these trials produce unflattering results, the data is simply buried. All of this is perfectly legal. In fact, even government regulators withhold vitally important data from the people who need it most. Doctors and patient groups have stood by too, and failed to protect us. Instead, they take money and favours, in a world so fractured that medics and nurses are now educated by the drugs industry.

    Patients are harmed in huge numbers.
There is a great extract in today's Guardian.  Me?  I am eagerly awaiting delivery of my copy and in the meantime am happy to leave the tin foil in the drawer.  Follow the money!

UPDATE: David Calquhoun has a great review of the book here.



Thursday, 20 September 2012

Sodium Bicarbonate

Not sure if you've seen these posts on Suppversity, but they contain some pretty astonishing conclusions about the ergogenic benefits of sodium bicarbonate.  Naturally I am investigating as we speak....
  • ...you will probably share my excitement about the rapid increase in total time to exhaustion:

    +28% in the bicarbonate group after 3-weeks and +34% after 6 weeks;
    +8% and +10% in the placebo group.
Astonishing!

The is another post worth reading here.  In fact browse the site dammit.  Lots of good stuff there!

Popcorn Lung

I blogged about popcorn lung a month or so back. It seems that it is not just the workers at risk. From the BBC:
  • A US man has been awarded $7.2m (£4.4m) in damages after claiming he developed "popcorn lung" from inhaling the artificial butter in microwave popcorn.

    A Colorado jury agreed with Wayne Watson that a popcorn manufacturer should have had warning labels that the bag's fumes were dangerous to inhale.  
Next visit to the cinema, look around at who is eating this stuff!

Taubes on Bloggingheadz TV

A good (video) discussion with Gary Taubes.

RPT Wk5 W/O3 Deload

Last stage of deload.  The eat and rest until Saturday night when it is showtime!

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (20 minutes)
1. Handstand Variations (air squats + side lunges, front lunges + floor touches, front/side/turning kicks, Low Kicks + Reverse Kicks)
2. Manna Progression (1)
3. Deadlift (4/6x130)
4. Wall Walk (3)
5. Backbridge (15s)

Shoulder Pre-habilitation
6. External Shoulder Rotations (10)
7. External Shoulder Rotations (10)

8. 321 optional

Weight: 80*

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

RPT Wk5 W/O2 Deload

Deloading again.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (35 minutes)
1. Handstand Variation (air squats + side lunges, one legged floor touches + front lunges, front/side/turning kicks + hanging kicks)
2. Pistols (6x75kg)
3. OACs (5x60kg)

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

Weight : 80kg

Sunday, 16 September 2012

My New Guide!

Nutrition 1970s style!



Ahead of its time!


I am sure if the author saw the diet of today's youth, she would be horrified by the various veg*n processed food, Special K and 'engineered' low fat food we're recommended to eat.

Where's My Foil Hat?


Sometimes I do feel like a member of the 'Tin Foil Hat Brigade' when it comes to health and fitness.  But whilst I am confident that man walked on the moon and that 9/11 was NOT an 'inside job', when it comes to Big Pharma, my Spidey sense tingles big time.

RPT Wk5 W/O1 Deload

Deloading this week due to some Lau Gar action this coming weekend.  I need to approach this refreshed, so I am cutting volume this week.
Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (30 minutes).
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Planche Variations (25s)
3. Barefoot Sprinting (1x15s)
4. Rope Climb (1)
5a. MU to Ring Routine (1).
5b. Scissor Splits ('2L, 2R, 2C') 
6. Weighted Barefoot Kill Carry (1)
7. Fingerboard Routine (10min)

Friday, 14 September 2012

Obesity and Captivity Go Hand in Hand


From the BBC, a story about obese elephants,
  • "...Almost all the elephants kept in temples in the state have been found to be obese.

RPT Wk4 W/O3

I'm quite enjoying how my training is going at the moment.  I am pushing things and am uninjured (something I like to frequently reflect upon due to long history of carrying a 'niggle' here and there without trying to resolve it). 

I can feel muscle soreness from my current workload and Lau Gar activities demand I ramp down training over the coming week as I have a 'challenge' next Saturday that requires my A-game.

I am not sure how I will deload.  Do I reduce volume, intensity, or increase rest period?  There is a lot of conflicting advice.  I think I will reduce volume down to one set of heavy.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (35 minutes)
1. Handstand Variations (air squats + side lunges, front lunges + floor touches, front/side/turning kicks, Low Kicks + Reverse Kicks)
2. Manna Progression (three rounds for time)
3. Deadlift (6x130, 8x110, 10x90)
4. Wall Walk (3, 3)
5. Backbridge (15s)

Shoulder Pre-habilitation
6. External Shoulder Rotations (12)
7. External Shoulder Rotations (12)

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

Weight: 80*

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Knee News

Another good episode of Radio 4's Inside Health:
  • Dr Mark Porter dispels myths about osteoarthritis. It is usually put down to ageing and the result of wear and tear with people told that the condition inevitably leads to surgery. Mark Porter investigates the latest research on the condition and discovers that a third of patients will get better through the natural repair process.

Porter discusses osteoarthritis which is now being considered as a problem of inflammation rather than 'wear and tear'. The general idea amongst doctors and the wider public is that once you succumb to osteoarthritis, things will only get worse and that surgery is inevitable. Pushed further, many would suggest that there is a scenario of bone-on-bone in the affected joint.  This is incorrect!
It is a thinning of the cartilege that causes pain.  It is a whole-joint disease that is subject to a repair process (your body is trying to make it better), hence the inflammatory response.   Furthermore it CAN get better. Research suggests that 1 in 3 people with arthritic knees get better. Another third get no worse.
Muscle strength protects joints. To help yourself in these situations it is recommended to strengthen your muscles which in turn reduces pain, improves function and 'repairs the arthritis'.  (I've been using a similar approach myself to cure a tension in my left hip as you'll see from the routines).

Don't rest your joint, strengthen it!  Work your body.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

RPT Wk4 W/O2

I aim to repeat and consolidate last week's highs, particularly with the chins.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (35 minutes)
1. Handstand Variation (air squats + side lunges, one legged floor touches + front lunges, front/side/turning kicks + hanging kicks)
2. Pistols (6x75kg, 8x70kg, 10x65kg)
3. OACs (5x60kg, 6x55kg, 8x45kg)

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

Weight : 80kg

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Carb Restriction/Higher Fat

Just a quick post to a couple of links regarding macronutrient cycling.

Richard Feinman has an extensive post on carbohydrate restriction:
  • It was now clear that we had a consistent set of scientific ideas that supported the importance of insulin signaling in basic biochemistry and cell biology and that there was a continuum with the role of dietary carbohydrate restriction in obesity, diabetes or general health.  All the practical considerations were still problematical but now we had the kernel of a scientific principle. In fact, it was not so much that we had the answer as that we had the right question.  In science, the question is frequently more important than the answer.
And on a sporting front, one of the comments at Gnolls had this item about a low carber winning an ultramarathon (a subject which brings us back to met flex and indeed, Gnolls.org),
  • Steve Phinney says that more and more endurance athletes are choosing low-carb, high-fat.  They’re choosing this diet both to get over digestive problems that hit in such a demanding event, and to win the race, and win it BIG!  That’s what Tim Olson did this year.  A self-proclaimed low-carb eater, Tim won the race — with a record-breaking pace.

The Epigenetics Revolution: Nutrition

Some further extracts from Nessa Carey's excellent The Epigenetics Revolution

The Agouti mouse is no stranger to those who have spent any time in the paleosphere.  Epigeneticists have used these mice to uncover some pretty intriguing phenomena:
  • [Emman Whitelaw changed the expression of epigenetic proteins]. No matter how tightly scientists control the environment for the [agouti] mice and especially their access to food, identical mice from inbred mouse strains don't all have exactly the same body weight. Experiments carried out over many years have shown that only about 20-30 per cent of the variations in body weights can be attibuted to the post natal environment. This leaves the question of what causes the other 70-80 per cent of variation in body weight. Since it isn't being caused by genetics (all the mice are identical) or by the environment, there has to be another source for the variation.

RPT Wk4 W/O1

It was tough working the levers in this workout.  I think that all the punching in Lau Gar through the week fatigues my shoulders.  Being in to so much 'physical stuff' it is hard enough to stay uninjured, never mind improve.  I should perhaps specialise to some degree but when you have the thrill of the fight, of the excitement of climbing/bouldering or the play of gymnastics, how can you choose?

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (30 minutes).
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Planche Variations (25s, 25s, 25s)
3. Barefoot Sprinting (1x15s, 1x15s, 1x15s)
4. Rope Climb (2)
5a. MU to Ring Routine (2, 2).
5b. Scissor Splits (3x '2L, 2R, 2C') 
6. Weighted Barefoot Kill Carry (1)
7. Fingerboard Routine (10min)

Friday, 7 September 2012

Men's 800m T36



We watched this excellent race last night.  Captain Kid (8), has really got in to the Olympic spirit, but started to cry in sympathy at the outset when Gabriel de Jesus Cuadra Holman immediately started to fall behind the pack.  She just wanted to reach in to the TV and help him.

She managed to compose herself until about 3:20 when the until-then leader Fabio Gutierrez Torres, was broken down by the chasing pack, and then she was off crying again. The look on Torres' face really pulled at my heart strings too (but as a dad, I had a duty to 'keep it together').

Stirring stuff from these athletes and truly inspiring. Also good to see that CK has developed a degree of empathy!

RPT Wk3 W/O3

My abs are still recoiling from Wednesday's kickboxing.  Lots of kicks and crunches sore-abs make.  However, I am looking forwards to this session.  I need to push reps on each of the sets.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (35 minutes)
1. Handstand Variations (air squats + side lunges, front lunges + floor touches, front/side/turning kicks, Low Kicks + Reverse Kicks)
2. Manna Progression (three rounds for time)
3. Deadlift (5/4x130/128, 7/6x110/109, 9/8x90)
4. Wall Walk (3, 3)
5. Backbridge (15s)

Shoulder Pre-habilitation
6. External Shoulder Rotations (12)
7. External Shoulder Rotations (12)

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

Weight: 79*

Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Piranha, the Peacock and the Weirwolf


Got to love this week's Olympic action, not least Ellie Simmonds' efforts in the pool.  I am more in to Track and Field, and Super Thursday has lived up to expectations.  Jonnie Peacock and David Weir have just blown The Games apart with superlative performances tonight (JP apparently only started sprinting three or four years ago.)  Wish I could get tickets, but they've been sold out for weeks!

The Dutch Winter Hunger



I've recently finished reading The Epigenetics Revolution by Nessa Carey, and what a triumph it is.  I find biology, like chemistry, can be a little 'dry'.  I like Dawkins' books - all very accessible but as a general rule (and outside of sport science), dull!  A school-life spent growing watercress in blacked-out jam jars, or splitting the stem of a rose so that each half of stem was in different coloured water, didn't really set my imagination on fire.

Skip forwards to 2012 and we are now in the neo-paleo period and biology is where it is at!  Epigenetics has made biology cool.  In turn The Epigenetics Revolution has made epigenetics understandable to the layperson.  Specifically, Nesse addresses how epigenetics can influence outcomes decades after the fact. (And today's news about 'junk DNA' being no such thing would be old news to you had you read Carey's work.)

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Quality Over Quantity

There was an excerpt on the World Service the other day about the effects of calorie restriction on longevity.  The long and the short of the discussion was that what mattered was food quality.  The analysts mooted that restricting calories on an UNHEALTHY diet makes you live longer. 

Stephan posted on the same research and made exactly this point:
  • "In 2009, researchers at the University of Wisconsin published preliminary results from the first primate calorie restriction experiment (3).  The analysis suggested that restricted macaques suffered fewer "age-related deaths".  Many people, including myself, found this somewhat questionable since total deaths from all causes were not significantly different (the experiment is ongoing, so there may eventually be a significant difference).  Also, the diet was appalling-- a refined feed made of sugar, isolated starch and other purified ingredients.  Animals in both groups died of gastrointestinal ailments.  The restricted group was protected from obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and they certainly looked much better.  Eating less of a poor diet seems to protect against disease, and may or may not extend life.

    Today, a new study was published that casts further doubt on the idea that calorie restriction extends lifespan in mammals, including primates (4).  Researchers from the National Institute on Ageing placed macaques on an unrefined (whole food based) diet for 26 years, with or without 30 percent calorie restriction.  They did this in two experiments, one starting with young monkeys and one starting with older monkeys.  Both experiments showed that calorie restriction does not extend lifespan under these conditions, although it does prevent obesity and cancer, and apparently maintains a youthful appearance."
This is perhaps more interesting than the idea that CR might extend/shorten life; that food quality (FQ) can extend/shorten life.  This is the kind of message that healthy eating initiatives should push!  Paleo makes a push toward FQ and it is broadly way harder to overeat on high quality food than it is processed food.  If we push FQ, appropriate CR may well follow as a consequence.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

RPT Wk3 W/O2

Lau Gar was pretty tough last night -with some hanging stances and low walks/kicks.  I need to practise these so will add a few of them in to the rests between sets of handstands (they are as much about balance and technique as strength/endurance).

Higher carb requirements today are fulfilled by home-cooked fruit , tinned fish and some skimmed milk (I know, I know...the latter is definitely a neo-food)

Here is the workout for today.  I want to try to add reps to each set.  Rests will be 2-3 minutes between sets.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (35 minutes)
1. Handstand Variation (air squats + side lunges, one legged floor touches + front lunges, front/side/turning kicks + hanging kicks)
2. Pistols (8/6x71kg, 10/8x66kg, 12/10x61kg)
3. OACs (5/4x60kg, 6x55kg, 8x45kg)

Monday, 3 September 2012

RPT Wk3 W/O1

I am really going to push the levers.  Not sure there is much progress being made on these so they need focus.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (30 minutes).
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Planche Variations (25s, 25s, 25s)
3. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
4i. Rope Climb (1)
4ii. MU to Ring Routine (1, 1).
5. Scissor Splits (3x '2L, 2R, 2C') 
6. Weighted Barefoot Kill Carry (1)
7. Fingerboard Routine (10min)