Sunday, November 23, 2014

Grappling with Age

2014 is going to shape up to be a pretty weak year in the fitness arena.  In the past few year, I've been driven by short to intermediate term goals (such as running an ultra-marathon, doing a double bodyweight deadlift, etc).  Most of the time I achieve the goal, feel a sense of accomplishment, learn a thing or two along the way and move on to the next thing.

If I had ever felt aches or pains during the "goal achievement" process, I ignored them or worked around them.  I've had shin splints, my knees have bugged me here or there, and my elbows are always an issue to some degree or another, but none of those aches or pains ever deterred me from my goals, and in the scheme of things, they were never too big a deal.

But in the last year, I've started to think about getting old.  Instead of fighting the aging process by ignoring aches, I have shifted to obsessing about them.  I worry about whether or not the things I do now will do permanent damage to my body in the future.  Which means I tend to worry a lot and do a lot less.

I'm still working out nearly every day, but the intensity and duration is a lot lower and I'm not really progressing at anything.  I've basically wasted this year.  I believe in the power of compounding in every aspect of life.  For example, if you do pushups every day and improve a very tiny bit each day, you will be able to do a lot more in a year.  But I've not stuck with anything long enough to get any benefit from compounding.

I have a lot of mixed emotions about this aging issue.  I don't feel old, and I don't really act like I'm old, but shifting from ignoring the future to trying to intelligently prepare for it (at least from a physical perspective) is a different mindset.  Sometimes I think, "screw it" and I'll just push my body as far as it will go and either worry about it in a few years, or have some surgery to fix what I screwed up, etc.  But then I see someone my age hobbling around for some reason or another and I tell myself I just want to be healthy and I don't want to force myself into that position.

So what am I doing?  I'm sort of looking for a new challenge to shake off this funk and start accomplishing new goals.  And I'm sort of looking for a "lifelong" fitness approach and just giving up and preparing for old age.  Obviously two very conflicted approaches, thus I find myself stuck in the middle going nowhere.

I suppose the actual answer is to do stuff like lose 10 pounds through an intelligent diet approach, focus more on pre-hab and rehab of aches and pains and at the same time find some new fitness goal to give me some motivation.  I'm spending a lot of time on the last item, and pretty much ignoring the first two.

I guess I don't totally suck yet.  This was a super easy bodyweight front squat I did a couple of weeks ago.  At least my flexibility has improved in the past year.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Back to Square One

It looks like its been a full month since my last post.  My blogging interest must have died with my training motivation.  

Since my last post I went on a three week jump rope binge, basically just doing 500 double unders every day (or 1000 some days to make up the days I missed).  I got up to doing 500 in less than 10 minutes, 100 in a row and 1000 in just under 26 minutes.  For a brief time the combination of technical skill improvement, cardio and relatively short workout duration kept me entertained.  If nothing else, I'm great at setting short term goals, achieving them, and then getting bored and moving on to something else.     

I got burned out on that and took 4 rest days in two weeks, which was about the same amount I had taken all year up to this point.  And rest day is a relative word here, since doing 10 minutes of jump rope (even though its pretty hard) hardly qualifies as a meaningful training effort for a day - more of a distraction.  Nevertheless, I counted 500 double unders in 10 minutes as "not a rest day".  It's my training log, so I suppose I can use whatever tortured logic I want when filling it out.  In the scheme of quality training I have failed miserably this year, so I don't think there is much pride to be taken from taking just a few days off this year.      

I just got to the point that my body was aching and I wasn't really driven by anything.  So I wander around for awhile, call it "training" and put something in the log.  Forget training, often it probably barely qualifies as exercise.  

The diet is ok, but not great (sort of summarizes the entire physical training spectrum for me right now).  Whether it is rational or not, I lay some of the blame for my meandering this year on Crossfit. I was pretty entertained by the whole Crossfit experiment for a little over a year (and got some benefits from it), but in hindsight, that fork in my training road was neither long term healthy or productive for me.  I don't think I'm swearing off weightlifting forever, but I need to go back to ground zero there and approach it from a healthier, more intelligent direction.      

I have been thinking more and more about getting older.  I see all of these older folks walking around my neighborhood each day - staying healthy with their daily walk.  Sometimes I see myself reverting to that "just stay healthy" sort of routine and giving up on bigger picture, more challenging training goals.  But then again, sometimes I see myself getting fired back up again and pushing my personal limits.  Though lately I appear to more often be leaning towards the minimal work, health oriented route.   

In that vein, the last couple of days I started just running 1.5 miles to the pullup bar near my house, doing a set of pullups, and running home.  A little less than 30 minutes, 3 miles and 15 pullups.  Will it stick?  I'm not sure.  Is this the "long term solution?"  Who knows?  But I suppose for now its better than nothing.  

       

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Just Passing Through

A couple of weeks ago I ran the Squaw Mountain Run for the 4th time.  It is a really fun race.  3.5 miles and 2000 feet of climbing up the ski slope at Squaw Valley.  Jen and I enjoy doing this race together, and we did it again this year.  Since my legs are meaningfully stronger than 2 years ago (the last time I ran the race), and my cardio was pretty good (based on my solid, for me, 10k time on July 4), I had visions of beating my PR of 45:00 for this race.  

Boy was I wrong.  

I completely sucked.  The three other times I did this race, my times were all between 45:00 and 45:30. This time I dropped a 49+ minute bomb.  I tried to pace myself intelligently through the first mile, and then when I tried to push the pace, I completely ran out of gas.  I sucked so bad I literally hiked the entire last 2 miles.  

30 minutes is a solid amount of time to spend on self loathing and disgust.  I spent the time effectively, making sure by the finish I truly hated myself, my lack of discipline, my lack of consistent and intelligent training, etc. I could have sped up a bit at the end and passed a few people, but those people were working way harder than I had, and they earned it.  I didn't.  

I even walked past the photographer near the end of the race.  No speeding up and pretending to run for the camera for me.  


To add insult to injury, a week after the race I ran a 10 miler, and it was one of the more miserable experiences of my life.  I only ran at 9:00 minute pace (I used to do longer runs like this comfortably at 8:00 to 8:30/mile pace) and I thought I might die.  I felt like I had run an ultra.  I haven't done a ton of long runs this year, but I have enough 2 hour trail efforts under my belt lately that 10 miles at this pace should not be that painful.  

So I feel like I'm back at square one.  I pretty much wasted the last year.  The Squaw race is as much a test of fitness as running, and my fitness sucks.  My strength is better, but it's not that great, at least not enough to justify my sorry fitness level and crappy body composition.  And who cares how much weight I can lift anyway?    

So the last couple weeks has been a steady diet of bodyweight squats, situps, etc. and interval work (jump rope, Airdyne and sprints).  I did 500 bodyweight squats 10 days ago and I literally couldn't walk for 4 days.  That kind of punishment is necessary right now and good for me.  Add in a renewed focus on a very low carb intake diet, and we will see if I can turn this train wreck around.  

Friday, August 1, 2014

What's Next?

I haven't posted here in quite awhile.  I guess I don't have much to say.  I've still been working (see spreadsheets below), but its not very focused.  I have been running more, which has been fun, but not enough to really move the needle on improving running fitness.

I have been doing crossfit less, I've found that I'm too mentally weak to do a good job moderating my effort so I get pretty beat up.  I don't regret my work there for the last year, as I've learned a lot and improved both strength and mobility.  But I've also earned more aches and pains and I'm not sure that drinking the crossfit kool-aid is my long term path in fitness.

I've been reading a lot of stuff from Mark Twight and Gym Jones lately.  He is pretty intense, but his message is sound.  Push the envelope, break down your mental barriers though physical effort - that kind of stuff.  It reminds me how mentally soft I've become.  I used to be competitive (in a false, contrived way) and that drove me for years.  But when I was honest about the fact that "competition" isn't really beating someone out for 749th place in a race, I lost that drive.  I was falsely competing against others, and I didn't (or don't) have the strength to truly compete against myself.  When you can search the internet for others to "beat", you can always find a way to win.  When you only compete against yourself and your own self imposed limitations, the risk of failure rises.  I haven't faced that demon yet.  

In a recent post Mark Twight wrote:

"I search for the experiences that change me.  Otherwise, why bother?  Sometimes I steer and sometimes I let go but my intent is always to expose myself to something so powerful that who I am adapts, and changes"

When I start soul searching, I admit that I currently "push" myself in comfortable little cubby holes that allow me to trick myself into thinking I'm working hard -- but I'm really not.  False consistency and random efforts without a long term direction is not improvement, its entertainment.  

I'm not doing anything scary.  I'm not strict dieting for 3 months just to see how low I can get my bodyfat level, I'm not running ultra races, or crushing myself in a 5k.  I'm not even trying to do 500 pushups, or 1000 bodyweight squats or a 10 minute plank, just to see if I can.  I'm doing things that I know I can already do, and I'm doing them at an effort level that falls in my comfort zone.  I have numerous ways I rationalize the lack of effort and risk, but they are irrelevant.  I'm just wandering around, hiding from true honest effort, pain and physical and mental growth.

I would like to think that I will start using diet and exercise as a means to meaningfully improve, both physically and mentally.  To use physical experiences to become a better person and exhibit the discipline that I would like to believe I have in me.  But am I willing to make that commitment?  Will I jump into the deep end, or stay in the kiddie pool?  To be honest, I'm not sure yet.




Sunday, July 6, 2014

Kenwood 4th of July 10k

47:19 - 126th overall, 8th in 40-44 age group.

I was extremely pleased with this effort.  I signed up at the last minute with the intent of just going out and suffering (I have been taking it too easy the last few months, and this was one of the ways I wanted to start to change that).

With very little running in the last few months I improved on the 10k I ran last November by 2:30, and this course was drastically more difficult.  There were some serious hills on the course that I figure cost at least a minute or two on the final time.  So from a fitness perspective, I'm thinking this is a 45-46 minute type of effort. 

Looking back, it appears that my best 10k ever was in the 44 minute range.  But back then I was running a ton, and earlier that year I had run a 1:34 half marathon.  So given my almost complete lack of running, my fitness level is looking pretty good.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Great Article

Many people ask why they should push their bodies in training (I often ask myself that).  This guy knows why:

Glory Through Suffering (via @firmfitness99)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Just Another Week

Not much exciting going on.  I tweaked my back pretty good while deadlifting last weekend, so I've been working around that.  But those things happen sometimes - just a reminder to be careful.


I'm still pretty aimless and without direction.  Some days I want to run more, others I want to lift more, others I want to try yoga, etc.  Just the musings of a old guy without a plan.  I figure if I just keep moving something will inspire me one way or the other eventually.  

Saturday, June 14, 2014

110

110 days in a row, with 2 PRs this week.  A 130lb strict overhead barbell press and a 140 lb high hang snatch.  I've started to go to an Olympic weightlifting coach once per week where I've had the opportunity to confirm that my technique totally sucks.  My old snatch PR from the floor was 120.  I was able to snatch 140 from my hip on Friday.  If I could get my technique down and get strong enough to do a 180lb overhead squat (current PR about 165), then I might be able to do a bodyweight snatch someday.  It's fun to be learning new things.  I'll try to post some video this week. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

1 Million Meters

In the category of distinction in "fringe" sports few people know about, I officially logged 1 million meters on the Concept 2 rower.  I started in 2009, so it took 5 years of on and off effort.  I even got a certificate.



Friday, May 23, 2014

88

88 days in a row.  I've been working on my overhead strength lately, as it is embarrassingly weak.  Feeling good, continuing to get stronger.  The last few days:

Monday 5/12 - 10 Rounds 155 lbs 2 Power Cleans + 2 FSEvery 1:15, 3 Rounds 12 Cal on Bike 12 DB Push Press 50lbs 24 Air Squats Finish with 10 Power Cleans @135 -- 9:35

Tuesday - Squat 235 x 7 x 2 (every 90 sec), BB press 105 x 2 x 1, DB press 50db x 5 x 1

Wednesday - DB press 50lb x 5 x 2, deadlift 225 x 5 x 1, airdyne 20 min 321 cals

Thursday - DB press 50db x 5 x 3, squat 225 x 1 later 135 x 5 × 4 Back Rack Lunge Each Leg Every 2 Minutes     METCON For Time 400m Run 3 rounds 12 TTB 17 Burpees Finish with 400m Run 12:20?

Friday - DB press 50 db x 3 x 4, 50 db x 2 x 3 later run 6 miles Hunter Creek - about 1:30

Saturday - DB press 50db x 5 x 4, squat 235 x 7 x 2

Sunday - DB press 50db x 10 x 2, Airdyne 30 min 454 cals

Monday - DB press 50db x 3 x 3, clean and split jerk 135 x 18 x 1, 155 x 4 x 1, Dynamic: 2 Minutes of Row 1 Minute Break 2 Minutes of Bike 1 Minute Break 2 Minutes of Burpees  108 total cals/reps

Tuesday - Row 1000 meters 3:58, deadlift EMOM 275 x 2 x 2, 295 x 2 x 2, 315 x 5 x 2    METCON  4 Rounds  5 Thrusters @105  10 Toes to Bar  15 Push Ups  7:49

Wednesday - DB press 50db x 3 x 5, squat 225 x 5 x 3

Thursday - DB press 50db x 10 x 3, later run 5 miles

Friday 5/22 - Deadlift 335 x 3 x 1, DB press 50db x 3 x 5
 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

75

Still going strong.  Last 7 days of workouts:

Sunday - Squat 245 x 5 x 1, 225 x 3 x 2

Monday - Squat 265 x 3 x 1, 225 x 3 x 2

Tuesday - Squat 225 x 5 x 3, Airdyne 30 min 391 cals

Wednesday - workout #1 Deadlift 345 x 5 x 1 workout #2  15 min EMOM power hang snatch + OH squat 115 pounds, 4 min AMRAP 5 burpees, 10 OH ball lunges, 8 ball slams, 2 min rest with 10 115lb hang cleans during rest period - 2 times through the circuit - 8 total rounds completed

Thursday - workout #1 Deadlift 355 x 3 x 1 workout #2 7×2 Strict Press Every 40 Seconds  115 lbs For Time - 20 Toes To Bar, 20 Box Jumps, 20 Oblique,V-Ups 20, Cals on Rower, 15 Same,  10 Same,  5 Same - 13:24 

Friday - Row 2000 meters 8:07    Partner Workout 400 Meter Run, 100 Double Unders, 80 Wall Balls, 60 Pull Ups, 40 Bar Over Burpees, 20 Clean and Jerks 135 lbs, 20 Front Squats 135lbs, 20 Cals on Bike Finish w/ 400 Meter Run -- w/Rory 21:20

Saturday - Squat 255 x 10 x 1

Friday, May 2, 2014

67

67 days in a row.  Here are a few of the recent workouts:
 

  1. Deadlift 265 x 3 x 1, later in the day - run 5 miles 
  2. Deadlift 265 x 5 x 1, later in the day - OH Squat 8 x 2, 115lbs, ending at 135lbs, row 30 sec sprint/30 sec rest - 10 rounds - 1538 meters, tabata thrusters 30db - avg 4/round
  3. Deadlift 265 x 7 x 1, airdyne 50,40,30,20,10/1 min rest 2 rounds 5 min rest between rounds, times - 10:12, 10:28, snatch 65 x 5 x 1 
  4. Snatch 115 x 5 x 1, 125 x 2 x 1, 115 x 5 x 1 
  5. 70 push-ups 100 band tricep extension, run approx. 400+ meters 1:27, row 500 meters 1:39.1, 50 burpees 5:10 
  6. Snatch 115 x 10 x 1 
  7. Snatch 115 x 10 x 1      
  8. Squat clean thruster 135 x 10 x 2, 1 min rest -- 7 reps 95lb thruster, 12 pull-ups, 20 double unders - 4 rounds in 11 min 
  9. Snatch 115 x 5 x 1, 120 x 5 x 1, 95 x 15 x 1 
  10. Snatch 95 x 5 x 1, 115 x 5 x 1, squat 225 x 5 x 3, Airdyne 20 min 301 cals 
  11. Squat 255 x 1, 225 x 5 x 2  later in the day -- deadlift 335 x 5 x 1 airdyne 10 min 196 cals 
  12. Squat 225 x 5 x 2 Airdyne 30 min 361 cals    

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Snatch PR

I got sort of bored with the daily deadlifting.  Even at 70% effort, it was putting too much stress on my body, preventing me from doing other stuff.  I think as a standalone only program, it is great.  But it doesn't fit into what I'm doing where I would like to focus on multiple things at once.

So back to the Olympic snatch as a core focus.  I know from past experience that I can do it for an hour a day if I wanted, and my body feels good and my energy levels stay high.  This is because the weights are so light (due to the technique demands of the lift)

So anyway, today I hit a 5 pound PR.  It's still an embarrassingly light weight, but at least my technique is improving. 


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Week 1

"If it is important, do it everyday.  If it is not important, don't do it at all" Olympic Gold Medalist Dan Gable

Did you know the deadlift used to be called the health lift? 

This week I did just as the program recommends, 255 pound deadlift (70% of current max) for 3 singles on Monday, 5 singles on Tuesday, 7 singles on Wednesday, etc up to 15 singles on Sunday.  Next week I move the weight up to 265 and start the cycle all over again.

Doing so many reps of the deadlift (my warmup includes 18 reps of increasing weight, + the work reps equals 21-33 reps per day) has given me the opportunity to refine my form.  Little things like proper setup, building tension, driving the hips correctly and staying tight on the descent are happening more easily now. 

The daily deadlift is pretty easy and takes about 15-20 minutes.  This is the point since the daily work is not supposed to stress your body so much that you can't do it again the next day.  My plan is to use the deadlift as the core of my program, and then increasingly build cardio on the Airdyne, running, and crossfit classes as the satellites.  I took it really easy this week and pretty much only did the deadlifts.  Next week I'll add more of the other stuff. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Day 50

50 days in a row.  I'm not really targeting any sort of streak, but it seems to be working out that way.  Things continue to go well.  

I started a deadlift routine (found in this book).

Justa's Deadlift Singles Program

1. Lift every day, seven days a week. 

2. Use 70% to start out and, as you gain strength, keep using 70% 

3. During Week One:
• Day 1 – Do three singles with one to two minutes rest in between
• Day 2 – Do five singles with one to two minutes rest in between
• Day 3 – Do seven singles with one to two minutes rest in between
• Day 4 – Do nine singles with one to two minutes rest in between
• Day 5 – Do 11 singles with one to two minutes rest in between
• Day 6 – Do 13 singles with one to two minutes rest in between
• Day 7 – Do 15 singles with one to two minutes rest in between
You have now made a complete cycle and are at Week 2, Day 1. Now you will add five or 10 lbs and go through the whole cycle again. 


4. Once a month, test your max to make sure you are using weights in your weekly cycle that are 70% of your max. If your weekly cycle weight was more than 70%, take weight off and adjust. If your weekly cycle weight was under 70%, add weight and adjust. This monthly testing of your max will keep you in the target zone. 


This workout must be done seven days a week, 365 days a year. Each week, you are building your endurance and toughening your tendons and ligaments by doing more and more work towards the end of each cycle, and then during the next week, or cycle as I call it, you're adding more weight and doing it all over again. The great thing about this type of training is that you will build great strength without really ever making yourself tired because the body is adjusting naturally and rhythmically.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Consistently Aimless

This was day 33 of consecutive "exercise".  Some observations from the past month:
 
  • Training requires a goal and a plan to get there.  I have no goals, therefore I am exercising.
  • However, I'm getting stronger and generally more fit while not feeling too beat up.  My body feels generally good, especially after 33 straight days of approximately 90 minutes per day (sometimes a total of 2 hours per day) of primarily heavy weight lifting.  So I guess if the goal were general health and fitness I suppose I am making progress, though I have to say that I generally don't find that very satisfying as an "accomplishment". 
  • There is a balance between introducing enough variety in your program to stay balanced and healthy versus specializing in something to experience measurable progress.  I have yet to find this balance. 
  • My diet has been pretty solid for a few weeks, and I find myself actually starting to change my eating habits and cravings. 
  • Once again, you can always do more than you think.  Some mornings I wake up pretty damn sore, but after some stretching and warm up work, I find myself as motivated and as strong as ever. 
  • Training and exercise is primarily mental.  Your outlook has a lot to do with your effort level each day. 
I come and go with my interest in keeping this blog going, and judging from the infrequent posts lately, clearly my interest level has been pretty low.  The only reason I started this blog in the first place was to find a small way to "pay it forward".  I get so much information from other people's blogs and their shared experiences that I felt selfish just taking and not contributing to the dialogue.  Over 1300 posts later, for better or for worse, here we are. 


Lately I haven't felt like I have had anything productive to say.  I used to share and re-post stuff I found on the internet, but now it is pretty easy through twitter or instagram to get way more information than you need about exercise, so I don't see much value I can add there.  Maybe I'll just go back to posting stuff that I find motivating, and if you all already saw it somewhere else, then oh well.


Or maybe I'll actually come up with a worthwhile goal and approach that is worth writing about.  I get so much value out of blogs like George's, because he does a great job documenting his journey.  The process, not the result, is the most interesting part anyway.  If I get less random in my approach to training and diet, maybe I can put together a story worth telling.         

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Double Bodyweight Deadlift

365lb raw deadlift (no lifting belt) at a bodyweight of 180lbs.  I can't say that hitting this goal has been a big focus for me, but it is a nice strength benchmark.  For some reason deadlifting progress seems to come pretty naturally for me, as I've improved more on this lift than any other in the last year.

Along the lines of "you can always do more", this was my 24th day in a row of fairly intense exercise (most of it weightlifting oriented).  The workout log snapshot is below.  If you click on the picture it will get large enough to read.





Monday, March 10, 2014

Nothing To See Here, Please Move On

I seem to be posting less frequently, I suppose I don't have much to offer to the blogosphere as it relates to training or motivation at this point.  Along the theme of Consistency Wins, I'm on my 14th day in a row of training at least an hour on something (primarily Olympic lifting, and mostly snatching).  There has been some Airdyne work and running thrown in there as well.


I feel great, actually better than I have in quite a while.  My knees and hips feel much better than they did when I was doing a lot of heavy squats.  Maybe that is just a function of the weights being quite a bit lighter though. 


At this point my training continues to be centered around the Olympic lifts, deadlifts and then enough cardio and variety through crossfit classes to keep things interesting.  As long as the body holds up and the motivation is there, I just keep exploring and see where it takes me. 


I got mostly serious about diet last week and dropped from 185lbs to 180.  According to the bodyfat scale it appears that my bodyfat is ranging somewhere between 8.8% and 9.8% (depending what time of day I measure it).  I'm pretty motivated to build better eating habits and breaking the sugar addiction, so I think I'll be on the clean diet train for awhile.   

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Couple of Videos

Still mostly running and Olympic lifting lately.  I am currently in George's club of exercising as opposed to training.  I feel good though, and I imagine some more focused motivation will come along at some point. 

105 pound Olympic snatch.  My form is getting better.  I'm using my hips more effectively, so while 105 is an embarrassingly light weight, its going up a lot easier than a couple of weeks ago.



345 pound deadlift



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Park Bench Workouts

Paul wrote a comment that unless he trains at a certain intensity level, he feels like he didn't get a workout in (or something to that effect). 


Here is an example of a Park Bench workout that recently made an impression on me.  A couple of weeks ago I did a 5000 meter row workout.  I went at about 90% effort, and finished the row in 19:55.  A week after that I wasn't feeling too fired up, but I figured I would get on the rower and just get some meters in.  So I rowed at what I perceived to be 60-70% effort.  My row time was 20:35.  The difference between the two times was 40 seconds.  40 seconds over the course of 20 minutes is about 3%.  So I rowed at around 20-25% less effort and my time was only 3% slower.  I've experienced a similar effort/time effect while running as well. 


A thought experiment... If running at 65% effort only costs you 5% in actual performance versus 90% effort, but the easier effort keeps you healthier and helps you motivate to run more (because it is pleasant and not painful), what is a better approach for you long term? 


I'll find the quote at some point, but I read in another Dan John book (Easy Strength) a discussion of lifting weights at 95% of 1 rep max versus 80% of max.  If you only lift at 80% of max all the time, and over time that weight becomes easier, and you slowly increase the weight so it still feels like 80% effort, eventually 80% effort is going to be higher than your old 1 rep max as you get stronger.  So are you better lifting at 95% of 1 rep max to try and get stronger, or are you better off lifting at 80% of max and getting stronger in a healthier, less stressful manner?   

Monday, February 24, 2014

Intervention by Dan John

I just finished reading a pretty thought provoking training book -- Intervention - Dan John


It's a training book with exercise recommendations in it, but it comes at the idea of training from a big picture perspective.  It was a great read given where I have been the last year (i.e. aimless) with regard to training/exercise. 


His basic premise is that effective training requires three things. A, B and the route between the two.  Clearly the easiest way to get from A (where you are) to B (where you want to be) is a straight line.  But Dan's point is that few people even know A (where they are currently) or B (where they want to be) are.  His premise is drawing the line between the two isn't that hard, but you have to know the start and end are first. 


The book centers on general weight training, fitness and current health assessment, and the concepts apply to any type of training - running, triathlon, etc.  One of the most timely elements of the book for me was the concept of life long fitness.  Dan makes the point that Crossfit style "collapse on the floor gasping" workouts should be used very sparingly, and most work should be pleasant and something that you look forward to.  I've just started to explore workouts where you aren't chasing a clock or someone else's results and its been an interesting experience. 


Anyway, the Kindle version is only $4.99, so it is definitely worth the price of a big Starbucks latte. 


Some quotes/concepts from the book that I liked:


"Mastery in authentic movement should be the key for everyone, and consistent practice is the key to this idea."


The 80/10/10 rule -- Spend 80% of your time on what your goal is about.  The rest is spent on weight and mobility work.  For those of you with diet/body composition related goals, that means 80% of your time should be spent on meal planning, preparation, etc - not exercise.  I don't know one person who says they have a diet related goal who actually does this. 


Bus Bench vs. Park Bench workouts.  You sit on a bus bench because you have a schedule.  The bus needs to be here by a certain time, you have to be somewhere by a certain time, etc.  These are the time and intensity focused workouts.  You sit on a park bench because you want to relax, enjoy the day, watch the squirrels play, etc.  A park bench workout is one done at a lower intensity and is intended for you to enjoy the experience of exercise and feel better when you are done than when you started.  Dan's thought is the vast majority of workouts should be of the Park Bench variety.


 "Always strive for a quiet head, efficient movements and sense of calm while training."


"We have this work ethic that somehow we feel we're sinning unless we train at maximal effort each and every workout.  That's simply not how the body works.  We need to ramp it up at times, yes, no question about that!  However, keeping the gas pedal down at all times leads directly to burnout.  Find appropriate weeks and months to really attack what you need to do, but don't be afraid to ease off when you need to."

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Running and Lifting

I actually ran 14 miles in the last 4 days.  It's been a few months since I've done that.  I've settled in into a routine where I pretty much just do Olympic lifts and running.  The variety is nice and working with lighter weights and learning technique is a fun change.
 
I've been working on my Olympic snatch.  This is an interesting lift.  It requires the strength of weightlifting, the flexibility of yoga and the technical skill requirements are similar to the golf swing.  I have a couple of friends who have done the Olympic lifts for quite awhile, and they tell me they are still working on improving their technique all the time.  In addition to the mobility and strength benefits, it keeps my mind busy, which is fun. 

Here is a video of me with 95lbs this morning. 


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Motivation

An old Cherokee told his grandson, "My child, there are two wolves inside of every man, battling one another every day. One wolf is evil. He is weakness, inferiority, ego, laziness, and entitlement. The other is good. He is strength, hard work, self-reliance, and humility."


The boy thought about this for a long while, then asked, "Grandfather, which wolf wins?"


The old man replied, "The one you feed."


Source - T-Nation

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Summary for the Week

It was a pretty good week of training.  It appears a more concrete training approach is starting to come together for me.  I'm integrating more running into the program (8 whole miles this week!), more Airdyne cardio work and on the strength side focusing on just a few pretty simple strength exercises. 


At this point the primary strength focus is on deadlifts and overhead squats.  Deadlifts are just simple, pure strength.  I think of overhead squats more as "yoga with a barbell".  They require such flexibility and total body tension and coordination that I think they complement deadlifts better than traditional squats and just enjoy doing them. 


I also stopped going to my trainer as well.  I learned a ton in the last nine months from Derek, but it's time for me to integrate all of those lessons and "make them my own".  I found the crossfit gym environment to not be the best for me, as I would get competitive and try to outdo kids 20 years younger than me, so I just ended up beating up my body.  I was also finding it difficult to sync up what was going on at the gym with what I was doing at home.  It's time to take a break, go hide in my garage for a few months and come out faster and stronger.


Summary of the week's training so far:   


Monday - Deadlift 325 x 5 x 1, 335 x 5 x 1, later run 4 miles
Tuesday - Row 500 meters x 10/1 min total time 18:54.9
Wednesday - Deadlift 285 x 5 x 3, Airdyne 30 min 425 cal
Thursday - Bench Press 195 x 5 x 2, pullups 10 x 3, Airdyne 10 min 30/30 137 cals
Friday - Deadlift 345 x 5 x 1 later run 4 miles 32:54
Saturday - Squat 245 x 3 x 1, OH Squat 135 x 5 x 1
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    

Monday, February 10, 2014

42

Turned 42 years old today.

Today's workout was deadlifting.  325 pounds for 5 singles, then 335 pounds for 5 singles.  A week ago I could only do 325 for 3 singles before I had to reduce the weight.  Last Friday I set a 10lb PR by deadlifting 355.  I'm getting stronger.

Each year on my birthday I usually try to do something to prove to myself how I'm stronger or faster than the year before.  I want to prove that I'm not aging, and I'm often able to set some sort of PR in something on or near my birthday to reinforce that message.  But, as I've discussed before, that is more a function of the fact that I am nearly always setting new personal bests, because I focus on one thing until I stagnate, then focus on something different.  I suppose I'm addicted to improvement, even if that improvement is sort of false in a bigger picture sense.

This year I'm again in a position to say I'm stronger than the year before.  Considering I couldn't even squat or deadlift properly a year ago, compared to my current max in those lifts and other test of strength, I am massively stronger.  I'm slower too (16 extra pounds and not much running will do that to you).  So do I focus on the strength gains or the speed losses?  It doesn't really matter -- you make choices and you pay a price for specialization.

In a sense I actually feel better this birthday than I have for the past few.  I feel wiser than I did last year. Clearly wisdom is a journey, not a destination, but I feel farther along the path.  My personal honesty regarding training and diet, real and temporary gains, true commitment and discipline compared to the illusion of discipline, has increased.  I'm getting better at managing all these things as they relate to my ego, and the bigger (and more important) picture of life and family.  I think I'm a better person for it.

Onward...

Monday, February 3, 2014

325lb Deadlift

Not a PR, but the heaviest deadlift that I have on video.  Today's workout was 325lbs for 3 singles and 300lbs for 7 singles.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Back to Deadlifting

I have been doing 20 rep squat sets on Monday, Wednesday and Friday the last couple of weeks.  I'm getting stronger (yesterday's set was with 210lbs), but I'm not sure how much benefit I'm getting out of them, and I'm feeling kind of beat up.  Back to deadlifting.

Today's workout was 15 singles with 315 pounds, and it wasn't too hard.  Just a few weeks ago I struggled to pull 300 with crappy form.


This photo from www.hookgrip.com is pretty cool.  Olympic weightlifters can jump pretty high. 


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Results

I finally got a legitimate bodyfat scale with an athlete mode.  I'm too lazy to understand all the science, but basically if you are a pretty athletic person a regular bodyfat scale overstates your bodyfat percentage.  The company defines an athlete as:

Tanita defines "athlete" as a person involved in intense physical activity of approximately 10 hours per week and who has a resting heart rate of approximately 60 beats per minute or less.  Tanita's athlete definition includes "lifetime of fitness" individuals who have been fit for years but currently exercise less than 10 hours per week. Tanita's athlete definition does not include "enthusiastic beginners" who are making a real commitment to exercising at least 10 hours per week but whose bodies have not yet changed to require the Athlete mode.

So now I can track my bodyfat percentage at home and compare it on the same basis to the professional bodyfat scale readings I have from last year.  So here we go:
June 7, 2013
Bodyweight - 171.6
Bodyfat % - 9.8%

August 30, 2013
Bodyweight - 177.6
Bodyfat % - 10.4%

January 22, 2014
Bodyweight - 185.2
Bodyfat % - 10.8%

So I basically have gained 12 pounds of muscle and 2 pounds of fat in a little over 6 months.  I'm much stronger.  I've added 75lbs to my back squat with much better form and I didn't even know how to deadlift before and my current max is now 345lbs.  Clearly, I've sacrificed running speed and endurance.  The 10k I ran in November was about 4 minutes slower, but I suppose 14 pounds of additional bodyweight will do that to you.  I plan to incorporate some running back into the program soon. 

Overall, pretty good work for 6 months.  Now I need to get that bodyfat percentage lower than where it was in July.   


Monday, January 20, 2014

More Squat Info.

I'm starting a 20 rep squat program today.  The basic approach is to perform a single set of heavy 20 rep squats on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and then fill in the rest of the days with whatever you want. They say that if you push the sets of 20 reps hard enough, you won't want to do much else.

My thought here is the 20 rep squats will still allow me to work hard, but with lighter weight (I did the set with 185 lbs this morning, as opposed to the 250lb working weight I have been using for lower reps the last few weeks) and will allow me to mix other work in.

More info. on the 20 rep squat program.

Great article on how everyone should work to improve their squat mobility for general health benefits -- Third World Squat