29 November 2010

Soothing Death

Thanksgiving day some family members and I pulled up to the outside of a nursing home.  The parking lot was bare, so finding spaces was not an issue.  When we went inside to see my grandmother the place was bare, with the exception of the staff and the employees.  I don't know how many of us she actually recognized, but she knew that she wanted her husband, and that she wanted to go home, and otherwise had a general lacrimal look about her.  Not that I can blame her.  Nursing homes--at least the few I have been to--generally have the smell of urine rampant through them, and a highly uninterested staff.  I'd be miserable too, whether I could remember anything or not. Combined with an atrocious diet, inattentive staff, and family members that haphazardly show up, the nursing homes I can vouch for might as well be a tomb for the slightly living. 

In the animal kingdom an animal will wonder off to die so that the group might go on thriving.  The nursing home is our answer to that, though the elderly person doesn't always make the conscious decision, and sometimes they want to live with their family, though "life" gets in the way of the care of the elders.  Part of the reason is the fear of death we have in this culture.  If we can keep them just alive to not see death, we can keep our wits at bay.  Only to put them in whorish makeup and suits when they die, so that they can still look as if they are alive.  I like to think of everything in a cycle--part of why I enjoy strength training so much--in the course of life we are born, we live, and we die, and we pass on to somewhere else.  Usually the earth, or as ash.  Think about your view of death.  I will leave you with this passage from Watership Down, one of my favorite novels:

     "One chilly, blustery morning in March, I cannot tell exactly how many springs later, Hazel was dozing and waking in his burrow. He had spent a good deal of time there lately, for he felt the cold and could not seem to smell or run so well as in days gone by. He had been dreaming in a confused way--something about rain and elder bloom--when he woke to realized that there was a rabbit lying quietly beside him?no doubt some young buck who had come to ask his advice. The sentry in the run outside should not really have let him in without asking first. Never mind, thought Hazel. He raised his head and said, "Do you want to talk to me?" "Yes, that's what I've come for," replied the other. "You know me, don't you?" "Yes, of course," said Hazel, hoping he would be able to remember his name in a moment. Then he saw that in the darkness of the burrow the stranger's ears were shining with a faint silver light. "Yes, my lord," he said. "Yes, I know you." "You've been feeling tired," said the stranger, "but I can do something about that. I've come to ask whether you'd care to join my Owsla. We shall be glad to have you and you'd enjoy it. If you're ready, we might go along now." They went out past the young sentry, who paid the visitor no attention. The sun was shinning and in spite of the cold there were a few bucks and does at silflay, keeping out of the wind as they nibbled the shoots of spring grass. It seemed to Hazel that he would not be needing his body any more, so he left it lying on the edge of the ditch, but stopped for a moment to watch his rabbits and to try to get used to the extraordinary feeling that strength and speed were flowing inexhaustibly out of him into their sleek young bodies and healthy senses."

Fiver the prophet, and Hazel-Rah

28 November 2010

Weekly Training Log

21 Nov

Press: 40kg-2x1, L/R.  32kg 4,3,4,3,4 L/R

Swings:32kg- 3x12, 5x10 L/R

Snatch: 16kg-30,20 L/R

18,412lbs moved in 26m10s

22 Nov

One Legged Deadlifts

135x3L/3R, 145x3/3, 155x3/3, 165x2/2, 175x1/1, 185x1/1

Tactical Grip Pullups 6x3 (for those who don't know, the grip for these is thumbless and overhanded)

6570lbs moved in 24m45s

23 Nov

Press: 40kg- 2, 8x1 L/R (8m15s)

Snatch: 16kg 4x15L/R

Swings: 24kg-5x15 L/R

Get-ups: 24kg 3L/R

12,538lbs in 33 minutes

24 Nov


135x3, 185x3, 225x2, 275, 315, 335 (Overhand Grip PR), 365, 415 (New Personal Record with a staggered grip, conventional stance)

EZ bar curls:  60x5, 70x5, 80x5, 90x4, 100x2, 110x1

4,835lbs moved in 50 minutes--had to share weights with people.

25 Nov

Press: 40kg-13x1 L/R

Snatch 16kg- 30L/R, 20L/R in 4:45

5788 in 28m55s

24 November 2010

Philosophically and anatomically, no two bodies are the same.

Here's a conversation that went down while two of my friends--one who happens to be a woman--and I were lifting today. 

Female friend-(pulls a conventional deadlift, after we have long established she doesn't like a wide stance deadlift)

Observant female gym goer who was doing something with wrist straps and dumbells and running shoes-(to my friend) Women should always deadlift with a shoulder width stance. 

Me-No two bodies are exactly the same.

Observant Female Gym Goer-Whatever, I have read the literature.

Me-I read books too, and still, no two bodies are exactly the same.  If they were, that would make God a slacker. 

I stopped talking to this girl and proceeded to hit two deadlift PRs, which I will talk about later.  My female friend hit a PR as well--a 200lb deadlift.  Not bad for a new deadlifter. 

Here is a clue as to why the girl gave her input.  Women have strong hips.  Makes them good at rearing miscreant children, who then grow up to be miscreant adults, like me.  So, in essence a wide stance might be more beneficial, as it takes away the lower back and recruits more hip muscles.  Grand. 

Female Pelvic Structure

Male Pelvic Structure
Now, what the misinformed gym goer did not take into account are, among other things, current levels of strength.  My friend happens to have extremely strong hamstrings and glutes from pushing a prowler around for hours.  And by a prowler, I mean a Toyota pick up truck filled with people.  So, with all logic a conventional stance might be more beneficial to her, and more comfortable, and have a greater payoff. 

Another thing to think about is this: the information in a lot of books can be used generally, but if you try to fit a mold that doesn't work for you, you will fail, not get strong or get hurt.  Hopefully none of these things will happen to you.  If you try to mimic Ed Coan's lift and you do not happen to be Ed Coan, you might not like the result. 

Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but nobody wants to get injured while training. 

Speaking of results, my training has yielded me pretty swell consequences.  I hit two deadlift PRs today.  My last PR consisted of a 410lb deadlift, conventional stance.  Today, I hit a 335lb overhand grip deadlift for a single, and a staggered grip 415lb deadlift both in a conventional stance.  The stance that tests best for me is actually slightly narrower than shoulder width.   My left hand is suppinated in these max attempts, with my index finger on the first ring from center, and my right hand is pronated with the pinkie touching the first ring.  (As a note, when I used to try to mimic everyone else, I would put my hands closer together, and the result would be nagging wrist pain.  Do what works best for you and is safe).  I used to believe I was better off as a sumo puller, but this style is starting to yield more results for me know, combined with the range of motion testing. 

I also decided, though I said I wouldn't, to compete in a powerlifting competition.  I randomly searched for upcoming ones in the Tampa area, and decided to do one on the 23 of January, a week after my birthday.  This means I now have to start bringing up my horribly lagging bench press, and my squat.  I will still test them.  I will also post about the progress and the meet as more details unfold. 

Remember, in lifting and in life, never box yourself in.  You will not like the consequences. 

Reposting this picture.  But I don't care, I find it hot, and her stance is not shoulder width. 

23 November 2010

Coffee is my pre and post sleep and workout supplement

Hopefully by now, if you are smart, you will time Thanksgiving so deftly that your testosterone will be raging.  I mean so raging that you will be ready to fight/fuck/kill anything that pisses you off/catches your fancy/commits a moral affront to you. 

Whenever I watch the evening news, and she pops up, I usually get the FFF urge. 
If you are smart about the eating, be smart about your training too.  I don't mean you have to waste your money taking NO Xplode, or anything like that when you can go to Dunkin' Donuts and get a large coffee to get the caffeine that NO will give you.  Creatine? Eat a steak.  Other shit you find in energy drinks like taurine, can also be found in meat products. Niacin, B12, Iron, also are found in red meat.  That said, why would you waste money on these things when you can get them from a coffee and steak? 

Take away the grains, and I hope this type of thing occurs often in my afterlife. 
I will admit though, that I like a protein beverage after I lift sometimes, especially if I know it will be a while before I eat since sometimes it takes forever to think of what I might want on a given night.  Without a gigantic wad of horseshit supplements, my training sessions get better continually, as you can see.

I also decided, recently to add tactical pull-ups into my training regimen, and I did so today, and at a bodyweight of 200lbs, I did four sets three, and they tested well every time.  Hopefully, I will increase my snatches and my deadlifting and my tactical pull-ups to where I can compete in a tactical strength challenge.

I have also been doing more pistols, as I can finally do them and they test well.  For those of you who don't know, a pistol is a one legged squat.  My mobility is slowly getting to where I can do them on my right leg, and the left leg I can do with no added assistance, with a 12kg kettlebell in my hands.  I've also been in the gymnasium lately and have seen squat and deadlift form that make me wince in pain merely watching it. If you can't do this:

Practice a goblet squat.  To execute a goblet squat, hold a kettlebell or dumbell directly in front of you and, to quote Dan John, Squat between your legs.  If it tests well, do it some more.  And later in life, move on to barbell squatting. 

Everyone has a different body shape, and everyone's form will vary.  Don't hurt yourself.  If you do something you're not supposed to do, your body will revolt.  It's called a muscle pull, or potentially something worse.  Exercise common sense, as well as your movements. 

Remember, readers, excellence does not take a time off, and because we are in "the holidays" doesn't mean you should fuck your progress in the ass.  You can keep training, and you will be a better person for it.  In the mean time, for those of us in the United States, have a happy Thanksgiving. 

20 November 2010

Training log

12 Nov.

Swings, 24kg 200 in 7m41s 10,600lbs moved.

14 Nov.

Presses: 40kg, 10L/R in  9m40s density pr

Swings: 40kg, 50 in 4m15s

Snatch: 24kg, 100 in 9m50s

Swings: 24kg 40 in 2 minutes

13,580lbs moved in 25m45s

15 Nov.

Sumo Deadlifts 135x3,185x3, 225x2x5, 275x6x3

8,160lbs in 45 minutes, time took forever due to having to share the bar. 

16 Nov.

Press: 40kg 7L/Rin 5m30s

LCCJ:  Pair of 50's-10,6,5,5,5 in 9m40s

Swings: 24kg 390 reps in 32m20s

25,002lbs in 47m30s

18 Nov.

Press: 24kg, Bottoms up 10x3L and 3x3, 2x2, 5x3R  30L/28R 13m5s

Snatch 16kg 25,15,15,15 Left and Right 11m25s

Swings: 32kg L10/R10 L5/R5x5 in 10m50s

19,460lbs moved in 35m20s

Yours truly working out in God's Gym.

16 November 2010

Charles Manson is a vegetarian? AND Hitler?

Interesting, but useless for the remainder of the article, as I plan on talking about eating out.  And for those of you vegetarians with critical thought capabilities, I sincerely hope you do not eat out often, or at all.  At most chains you have people who cook in the kitchen and simply do not give a shit about their clientele, since they aren't faced with them.  I know I wouldn't, which is why I wouldn't go out of my way to make sure I didn't use animal products in a vegetarian meal. 

Even if Lydia Guevara happens to be the relative of a dead communist revolutionary (Ernesto "Che" Guevara) I would still cook her veggie stir fry in bacon grease. 
  So if you are not the granddaughter of Che, and you eat out often there are a few things you can do to make sure you don't severely rape your well earned dietary progress.

The first thing to remember is that you are paying for the food you are eating, and you have the right to pick what the hell you want to eat, since you are a customer.  I often times get told that I am picky because I order food the way I like.  Here's an example of something you can do to make sure you get what you need to it, based on this principle of you being the customer:

Restaurant Goer- (walks into restaurant, sits down and peruses the menu, and a server walks up) Hi, I notice you have these chicken wings here, and they come with all sorts of weird sauces and breaded.  Would I be able to get them plain, non breaded and with blackened seasoning? 

Server-I don't know let me check/we don't have blackened seasoning, but you can get them plain and non breaded/No, they are only breaded. 

These are the likely responses.  I have not gotten anything deviant from one of the three in fact.  As a note, if you are at a Hooter's you can get plain blackened wings with no bread, but they taste as good as I imagine wallpaper would. 

Beef O' Brady's delivers
If the server checks with the cooking staff regarding your question, one of the next two answers is likely.  If the third answer is given, move on to different types of chicken.  Or ask for a beef patty.  Problem solved.  Just make sure to request that they do not cook the items you choose in bullshit--butter, bread, lard, etc.  Remember, you pay for it, so make it happen. 

If you want decent blackened wings, by the way, Beef O' Brady's a good alternative.  I know this because I work right next to one.  Other good options for those of you in Tampa--the Copper Top Pub.  Their wings are smoked, and taste great with salt and pepper.  Another option is Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza.  The wings come with onions, and are cooked in a coal oven. 

If you are really boring, you can always order a salad.  Make sure to ask for romaine lettuce, otherwise it won't be given to you.  Throw away the croutons, shitty dressing, and opt for eggs, meat, and other veggies and use some EVOO to flavor it.

If you are less boring, you can get a decent salad from Tijuana Flats, Moes, or Chipotle.  Remove the grains, (corn is one, fyi) and if you're strict into paleolithic eating, the beans and cheese too. 

Your best bet is to be less of a lazy sack of crap than I am, and make your own stuff.  It's its own reward, and it builds character to cook, and you can make it taste how you want.  It is also cheaper and you know someone isn't going to spit in your food for making them cook such deviant non-menu items.  But if you do eat out, remember that you do pay for it, and the job of the eating establishment is to provide you with hot chicks to look at, and feed you for your money.  Not necessarily in that order. 

12 November 2010

What the fuck is Biofeedback training 2: gym movement/biofeedback training log

2 Nov.

Presses:  40kg- 2 singles L/R
8 sets of 3 L/R 1x4 L/R 1x3 L/R
4692lbs of weight pressed in 19m15s

Swings: 24kg 414reps= 21942lbs moved in 39m15s

26634lbs moved in 58m30s

4 Nov.

Presses: 32kg- Left hand-4x4,4x3,4,3,2,2x3 Right hand-2x4,3,2x4,2,2x3,4,3,3x3=  6020lbs moved in 18m30s
Snatch: 16kg kettlebell  6x10 L/R, in 13 minutes 4200lbs moved
Long Cycle Clean and Jerk with a pair of 50lb kettlebells 5x5 in 18m30s 2500lbs moved

12720lbs moved in 50 minutes

7 Nov.

Presses: 40kg Left hand-ten singles Right hand-eleven singles.1848lbs moved in 17m15s
Swings: 32kg 200 reps in 15m20s 14000lbs moved
LCCJ: pair of 50's.  8,6,6,6,6 in 11m

19048lbs moved in 43m35s

8 Nov.

Deadlifts, conventional.225lbs-6, 275-3,315-2 singles, 335-2 singles, 385-1, and a pr for my conventional DL.  moved 4590 lbs in 18m30s

9 Nov.

Presses: 40kg Left hand-1,2,1,1 Right hand-1,2,1,1
32kg Left hand-4,4,4,4,3,4,3,4,4,4,4 Right hand-4,4,4,4,3,4,3,4,4,4,4   6760lbs moved in 19 minutes

Snatch 24kg Left hand, 150, Right hand 150 all in sets of ten.  15900 in 37m

22670lbs moved in 56m

10 Nov.

Deadlifts, conventional


4270lbs moved in 24 minutes.  My last max DL attempt in general was 405lbs sumo, so this is an overall PR.

11 Nov.

Presses: 32kg Left hand-5,3,4,4,3,4,3,4,3,3,4,3 Right hand- 5,3,4,4,3,4,3,4,3,3,4,3  6020lbs moved in 17m15s
LCCJ: Pair of 32kg bells- 4,3,3,3,3 2240lbs moved in 8m56s
Snatch: 32kg 5 sets of 5L/5R for 3500lbs moved in 10m12s
24kg 2 sets of 10L/10R and 5L/5R in 4m50s 2650lbs moved

14410lbs moved in 41m13s

Keep in mind, all these movements tested well, and I performed them until A. I didn't feel like it anymore, or B. They stopped testing well. Only in one instance was it B.  Also, I stopped doing movements if they started to slow, or I started using excess tension.  Whereas, I could potentially hit four reps with the 88lb (40kg) bell if I used high tension, I did not.  The first sign of more effort than I had been expending, I terminated the set.  I might have been able to hit a 415lb max deadlift, but I do not think I would have done it as safely as I did the 410lb deadlift because I would have tensed up more.

A good barometer for this is to think of each movement as effortless.  Each one should feel good, and they moment they do not, you end your set.  I did all the heavy pulls without facial contortions and what have you, and feel better for it.  Same goes for my pressing, which you can see the volume and intensity of has risen, despite not using super high tension techniques.

For my kettlebell swings and snatches I adopted what is, for me but not  kettlebell atheletes,  new breathing pattern wherein on the downswing of a snatch or swing I exhale as opposed to exhaling on the top--we call exhaling on the downswing "anatomical breathing," and exhaling at the top "biomechanical breathing."  Anatomical breathing allows for more work to be done while saving energy. 

Notice Valery Fedorenko's exhalation on the way down.  This is anatomical breathing.  This, and other different techniques I am experimenting with are helping me snatch more with less effort, and I still have a lot to learn regarding that lift.

Other than that, I like testing movements to see if they work, and I can see the progress in this log and on every workout.  I also feel better after workouts than I did, and even then I felt pretty swell.  But it's only a week, let's see how it all goes in the future.

Tis the season to be Merry. 

09 November 2010

Are we what we do?

A long time ago I worked for a video store that is now sinking like the mighty Titanic. 

At this time, I had already been lifting weights for about a year, and was pretty into it, for all intents and purposes.  One day, I had a day off.  On my days off of work, and on some days I was to go into work, I lifted weights. 

One particular day off, I was getting up in the morning readying myself for the gym and I got a call from my work place.  They wanted to know if I could go help a store that was short staffed.   Me, ever the altruist and loving to help my fellow humans, I said, "Sure, I will get in there as soon as I can."  They said that was fine. 

After the call, I went to the gym and pumped some serious iron, returned home to bathe, and put my work uniform on and went to the store.  Then, about an hour and forty-five minutes later as I was driving to my added shift, I got a call asking where I was.  I replied that I was on the way, and that I am getting there as soon as I could.  I showed up two hours after the call. 

What was the point of this?  That my obligations within my life are my own, and a job that asks me for a favor on a day I am not required to work does not supersede whatever the fuck it is I feel like doing with my life.  I only bring this up because I there are opinions varied from my previously stated one--according to these, I should have promptly went into work, and let the gym fall by the wayside.  However, to my mind I was telling the truth when I said I would be there as soon as I could.  What are your opinions?

A lot of people use work as an excuse to get out of things that they probably should do--and indeed this is not a bad thing, as many people are very lucky to have a job these days--and in turn their jobs start to control their lives, and then we start identifying with our jobs as expressions of who we are.  One of the first questions I find being asked of me these days when I meet new young professionals is "What do you do for a living?"  

And contrary to what a lot of liberal, hippie, soy eating college students say, being identified with what you do isn't always a bad thing, provided you enjoy it.  I, for instance, view myself as a teacher in all aspects of my life.  I realized this when my roommate overheard my excitement as I was teaching someone to play a song and they comprehended what I was saying.  This is something I can get behind, as I derive pleasure from it, and the student gets knowledge as a result.  I love being a teacher so much, that it has not dawned on me to ask for a raise after two years of working, though a coworker advised I should.  I might. 

The wrong kind of work identity can lead you to beat the fuck out of a copy machine.
However, there are a lot of people who don't like what they do as much as I like doing what I do.  We have the power to change it, should we desire, but usually some sort of fear takes over and we don't.  So we fuck our identities, and stick it to something we view as meaningless and meaningful at the same time.  Leading us to a state of cognitive dissonance.  So remember, your job doesn't dictate your life, it should be the other way around.  And everything we do is impermanent, so keep that in mind as you travel forward in life. 

06 November 2010

The Holidays, or for some people, "Hey, clean eating, go fuck yourself."

In America it's that time of year again.  The time where you hang out with family members who seldom come around because, though you might not want to, it is the "right thing to do."  That time of the year where it gets a little bit cooler outside, and all the kick ass television shows and movies start to show up on your TV screen. 

One of the best Christmas movies ever. 
It is also the time when gym memberships decline for a bit because everyone is busy with "the holidays."  Don't worry though, they have a resurgence some time after 1 January for some strange reason. 

For a lot of people the holidays mean it is now easy to eat like you're at a Roman orgy again.  I have no idea why this happens other than the fact that it is vastly easier to eat shit than it is to eat something good.   But if you have been on a decent eating plan for a while, there's no need to fuck yourself by eating nothing but shit between Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

I offer you readers some simple solutions to make your holidays food filled, and not wrecking to your diet.  And if you want, you can even take Thanksgiving off from your training--I won't, as I really like pumping iron--but it is acceptable. 

A dietary transgression I frequently dream about. 
First off, if you have a body, you can exercise.  So you can still work out even when you travel. 
Second, plan how you eat.  You don't have to be nit picky about it.  I will use my self as an example, since I am dieting fairly strictly at this point in time and plan on doing so for a while. 

At this point of the Ketogenic diet, I cheat one or two times a week and refeed myself with clean foods on Saturday and Sunday.  What if, let's say, I timed a cheat meal to coincide with Thanksgiving day? Lo and behold, my glycogen gets replenished and my leptin levels too. And maybe I can have some turkey the next day.  Why the fuck not? It's Ketogenic friendly. 

Moreover, one can be overly pedantic and carry their bland, skinless, and weakening chicken breasts in a tupperware container on days like these--there are stories of it happening floating about somewhere.

My personal chef.  She sucks at cooking, oddly enough.
This kind of behavior can be as bad as fucking your diet in the ass by eating bullshit.  Half the fun of eating is eating with friends and family and talking shit to each other about who knows what.  If you alienate your food choice, your family might as well look at you like a leprous pariah for A. Turning down good family fun and food and B. Being a pretentious asshole.  If John Berardi can get down on a cheat meal the serious of the serious dieters and weightlifters should be able to as well.  Shit, there is even an anabolic effect to them.  So hang with your family and don't be an alienated dickweed. 

Here is how it will go down for me: I will probably cut down to one cheat a week or more before Thanksgiving day.  I will undereat a lot on the Wednesday before, and taking my cue from Ori Hofmekler (who talks about the good of overeating followed by undereating in The Warrior Diet) I will eat my face off on Thanksgiving day.  I will then eat lightly the following day (resuming my ketogenic dieting) and go back to normal, thereafter.  I will repeat this for Christmas, and my birthday in January.  Eat, drink and be merry, friends. 

02 November 2010

Biofeedback Training: What the fuck is it?

Moments ago, I got off the phone with Adam Glass.  What was supposed to be a 30 minute call, turned into 90 minutes of information of epic proportions. 

Adam was a former proponent of a strength training philosophy that held to the belief that to yield greater strength gains, one must maximize tension, and use corrective exercises to fix fucked up movement patterns.  According to the claims on his site, using biofeedback training can fix all of your movement patterns without foam rolling, hours of mobility work, and static stretching.   The rationale being that if you listen to what your body is telling you, you cannot go wrong.  Sounds pretty good. 

Another idea is that we are looking at exercise as merely movement.  We perform a movement--let us say a deadlift--and we try to get better at it by testing it.  If the movement debilitates your range of motion, at that time it is not good for you to do.  If you push through it, you will "fuck yourself up," to quote Adam directly.  So, we test what moves well at that time, and get better at it.  When we use tension unnecessarily it slows us down and fucks up our movement.

One of the reasons this appeals to me is because it gels well with what I teach a lot of my students who strive to get better at playing guitar.  My main quote is, "you have four goddamn fingers.  Why wouldn't you use them all?"  That said, it allows for better movement on the fretboard.  Makes you more efficient, and able to do more.  So with biofeedback training, we strive for the same thing--effiency, so that we might make use of what we have to yield greater gains. 

If you follow symbolic logic, you will recognize this as working toward the same conclusion--betterness via looks, performance, etc.--with an input of a different premise.  And if you will remember your DeMorgan theorems, this happened all the time.  A different premise can yield the same conclusion, so the idea here is not far out.  Either way, I am going to detail my progress on here fairly often, and I think my progress will be good. 

In case you forgot your DeMorgan theorems.