Monday, December 31, 2007

GripFAQ.com Expansion

Over the past two days I spent quite a bit of time doing search engine optimization on GripFAQ.com. The short of it is I added two functions, one to give each image a click through for its own page, and another to give each entry its own page.  This gives the site around 200 key word laden pages. I think it also adds some nice usability features.

Sunday afternoon I spent several hours taking pictures and videos for the site as well. Once I get those processed almost all the entries should have their own pictures. I think I have around 2 dozen videos to go up, but I am not sure of the best way to present them.  Embedded youtube panels coupled with download links is the best I've come up with so far, but I'd prefer to be hosting all the content. I am leaning towards putting all the videos in a single section under the top nav, opposed to peppering them throughout the page.

Otherwise I've got some other good stuff in mind:

1. Dynamically resizing pictures from my source files upon page loads, instead of using pre-sized pictures. I think this will give my a lot of flexibility with the layout.

2. Finish the C# conversion on the admin side.

3. Enhance the admin tool to manage the site sections via a webpage instead of the database.

4. Convert the whole site to the .NET 2.0 framework.

5. Today's changes introduced a number of opportunities for code refactoring that will require expansion of my C# and SQL skills. I had to balance getting it done at all with getting it done right, but am looking forward to tweaking over time.

6. Fix the page layout upon printing to paper so that it looks like on the screen. I am having a heck of a time getting things to flow together smoothly. Once this item and the dynamic picture resizing is done, I am much closer to a print version of the site (book).

7. Eventually the look and feel need to be revised by a professional graphic designer

8. The writing has considerable room for improvement. On going content revisions are needed.

9. The pictures have considerable room for improvement. Eventually sessions with a professional photographer are needed. Ad revenue will have to pick up for this one though.

10. As always, more content needs to be added.

11. My blog needs a header and style sheet that aligns with the GripFAQ.com header and style sheet. I am not sure how feasible this is give the options provided by Go Daddy.

There is certainly no shortage of work, good thing I enjoy it.


Oh, and my training - well, I plan to resume normal workouts Wednesday morning at the latest. Tuesday seems unlikely with new years eve and all, but Wednesday I will be ready to go.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Saturday Update

The extra time available for vacation has resulted in DDR making a strong comeback as my activity of choice. Thursday and Friday I had solid sessions, working up to a few 7 foot songs by the end of Friday. Between the weight I've dropped and wearing 2 pairs of thick socks, I am now able to play without any foot pain.  The game is a ton of fun and it makes holding back very difficult. I found myself pricing metal pads at $330 this evening, but held back on buying one.

My Saturday training session got pushed back to Sunday, both due to DDR and from staying up far too late on Friday night. I got into a groove updating gripfaq.com and did not go to bed until 2 in the morning. Making things worse, I woke up at 6:30am excited to continue. With 12 total hours invested I managed to:

1. Get the website running on my laptop again

2. Capture two database connections that were being left open, which I think will fix the intermittent connection error the website encounters running on my Go Daddy hosting. I think the error is caused by Go Daddy killing my active SQL processes when the maximum number of allowed database connections is exceeded.

3. Update the top nav to allow my blog link at 1024x768 screen resolution, as well as to leave space for a new section.  In the near future I may add tips on planning training or video demonstrations.

4. Greatly improve the site appearance in FireFox, tweaking a range of display issues to make the fonts and left nav function the same as in Internet Explorer. This took quite a bit of patience due to cross browser style sheet rendering variations.

5. Refactor the style sheet and include file structure, significantly reducing the size and complexity of the code

6. Expand the supporting grip section content, including entries on thick bar deadlifts, timed holds, rolling handles, and rolling handle deadlifts.

7. Deploy and test

With three days of vacation remaining, I hope this groove continues. I have very few commitments and some excellent ideas for improving the site. Outside of updating the text content, there are a range of pictures, videos, and technical upgrades I would like to make.

This evening I also went ahead and ordered a 40k kettlebell from Perform Better, for $135 delivered.  While I cannot use it for much right now, I have been thinking about getting one daily since Gripmas.  I want to hit my 1/2 body weight kettlebell goals with this kettlebell and a body weight in the mid to high 160's.  When it arrives I will immediately knock the clean and goblet squat off my list. The others will take some time, but I think they are possible.  This course sits much better with me than my original plan of dropping into the high 150's to hit my goals with a 36k kettlebell.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Success

Everything lined up for this workout to go very well. The past few days I have been napping daily and running a slight caloric surplus with quality food. Yesterday I played DDR for active recovery. This morning I got up, ate, took a nap, shot pool, watched strongman, and drank a few cups of tea. By the time I hit the weights at 11, nothing was stopping me.


90 seconds rest between sets:


Goblet Squats - 5 x BW, 16k, 24k, 32k
Kettlebell Squats - 5 x 16k's, 20k's, 20k's, 20k's
Romanian Deadlifts - 5 x 135, 185, 185, 185
Turkish Get Ups - 1/1 x 16k, 20k, 20k, 20k
Renegade Rows - 5/5 x 16k, 20k, 20k, 20k
One Arm Press - 5/5 x 16k, 20k, 16k, 16k
Vertical Bar - 1/1 x 135, 135, 135, 145
Axle Chins - 2, 2, 2, 2
Front/ Back Neck Work - 10/10 x 12, 12, 12
Grippers - 5/5 x T, #1


Hah! I exceeded my progress expectations for the entire holiday, let alone this single workout. On top of my recovery coming together, the weather was perfect. It was all I could do to stop and go inside. Post workout I ate a pile of food, and then three hours later I was starving and ate again. My body is quickly rebuilding what was lost on the Rite of Passage program.


I will train again on Saturday.  DDR may happen Thursday or Friday. If the weather stays nice, I might also do some activity outside.



Monday, December 24, 2007

Confounding Factors

As alluded in my prior post, a range of confounding factors are preventing me from training more frequently. I think one of the issues I am having is with my nutrition.  Other than eating out, I eat very little junk. My food budget just does not allow for it. However, I have gotten incredibly lazy with my meal preparation. In the simplest sense, I'd rather go hungry than spend 20 minutes cooking and eating a meal.

This has lead to an ability to maintain my weight, even when I intentionally loosen my diet to add extra calories. Last week, concerned by the 2lb loss to 175 the prior week, I opened things up. During that week span, I ate out Italian twice, ice cream once, Chinese twice, and pizza once. I also spent every day at work foraging on Christmas cookies, chocolates, and meeting left overs. Saturday morning, I weighed in at 174. This drop was with a single workout all week.

There are a lot of problems with this. The biggest is I need to just barely run a caloric deficit to make real progress towards my goal of relative strength. Extreme deficits will only exhaust me and eat away at the little muscle I do have. The second problem is the quality of food I end up eating as a result of my poor preparation.  Take out and office snacks are not the basis for a sound, healthy diet.

So, what to do? For starters, I have ordered 4lbs of mixed nuts from amazon, in 2 32oz plastic jars. I will keep one at work and one at home. During the day, I will make a point to snack from them on a regular basis.  My hope is they will push out the crap at work and solve the issue of just going hungry at home. I am not sure if they will get my calories to the point where I need.

If this doesn't fix the problem, I will phase calorically dense foods into my meals. Initially, I have begun eating my pasta with a topping in addition to cheese (pesto, butter, or red sauce). The other idea I have is replacing my cottage cheese with a higher fat yellow cheese, but I'd rather not.  Eating more isn't a terribly realistic option for me. I will not stick to that with quality foods.

This morning I also ordered a two pairs of warmer pants for training in the cold garage. Hopefully that helps with another of my confounding factors - training squats and turkish get ups in the cold garage makes my knees ache. Short rest periods help, but they are not enough.

The biggest confounding factor I am working with is the week before Gripmas I put in notice at my job.  There are a variety of factors not appropriate to discuss in a public forum, but time has come for me to move on. I am in great shape financially and do not have to work for at least a year. However, I can't stand the prospect of doing nothing! I am very strongly achievement motivated.

So, this occupies my time, pushing back other life priorites. Since giving notice, I have identified my first choice organization and team, evaluated what they do, submitted an application, and made contact via my personal network. While waiting for callback, I am learning more about the working environment I want, doing introspection on my personal priorities. Add to that my ongoing commitment to professional development, and I have a full schedule.

Realistically, lifting isn't going to take priority over figuring out how I went to spend 40+ hours a week for the next 5+ years of my life. So, until I have the work situation sorted, lifting gets minimized.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Back Burner

Due to a range of competing priorities, my training has to go on the back burner for awhile. This means I'll be scaling down to the bare minimum of 2-3 full body sessions a week, with set periods of 90 seconds per set.  Progress should still be made. Sunday morning was the first of these workouts:

90 Seconds Per Set:

Goblet Squats - 5 x BW, BW, 16k, 24k, 32k
Kettlebell Squats - 5 x 16k's, 20k's, 20k's, 20k's
Romanian Deadlifts - 5 x 135, 185, 185, 185

At this point I out-trained my conditioning and the sick feeling in my stomach became too strong to ignore. I had to stop, shut off the timer, shut off the music, and pace while focusing on not losing it. I thought about going inside and deviating from my written plan, but that would make me a quitter. Instead, after about 10 minutes, I got back to it with untimed sets:

Turkish Get Ups - 1/1 x 16k, 20k, 20k, 20k
Renegade Rows - 1/1 x 16k, 20k, 20k, 20k
One Arm Press - 5 x 16k, 20k, 20k, 20k
Vertical Bar - 1/1 x 135, 135, 135, 135
Axle Chins - 2, 2, 1, 2

My immediate goal is to get through this entire workout on my timer, with 90 seconds per set. That will give me a 32 set full body workout in approximately 50 minutes. I can always make time for that twice a week. During the holiday I am on now, I plan to train Wednesday (12/26), Saturday (12/29), and Tuesday (1/1).  I may also work in some assorted DDR, yoga, and stretching.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Missed Workout

Well, the pool table is in and plays great. It cost me $2400, a lot of sleep, and a workout. I tried making time for my upper body session on several occasions, but the energy just wasn't there. Tuesday evening the guys were at my house from 7pm to almost midnight, and then they had to come back on Wednesday evening to finish leveling the table. I didn't even do anything and it was exhausting. I do now have a 9' Gold Crown III in my basement though.

I have the next week off and am looking forward to it. My application is in for the new job I want and my contact indicated all I can do right now is wait. So I will enjoy the holiday and relax.  It will be easy to get all my workouts in. Maybe I'll even do some work on gripfaq.com.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ninety Seconds - Lower

The theme of this morning's workout was to train my lower body and do something every 90 seconds.  My garage is cold and my pants are thin, so I need something to keep me warm.  This does it:

Goblet Squats - 5 x BW, 12k, 20k, 28k
Kettlebell Squats - 5 x 16k's, 16k's 16k's 16k's, 16k's
Romanian Deadlifts - 5 x 45, 115, 165, 165, 165, 165, 165
Turkish Get Ups - 1/1 x 16k, 20k, 20k, 20k, 20k
Underhand 8lb Medicine Ball Tosses: 10, 10, 10, 10, 10

I had no trouble staying warm and my knees felt much better through this workout.  I actually ended up doing more sets than the last one, most likely because of the shorter rest periods.  With the Gymboss telling me to go every 90 seconds, I couldn't stop to think about it.  I like the way this turned out.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Weekend Review

This weekend marks my return to an upper / lower split. On Saturday I did lower body, with a focus on Romanian Deadlifts and Goblet squats, along with a few minor exercises.  Weights were kept light but soreness still set in for Sunday. On Sunday I did upper body, hitting one arm presses, renegade rows, chins, grip, and neck work.

Already I feel as though this plan will work better than the Rite of Passage was.  The weights I am moving are just heavier.  Doing sets of straight one arm presses (opposed to cleans and presses) showed me that my pressing strength is down quite a bit, inspite of the focus on pressing.  My body weight pegged the scale at 175 on Sunday, so I am hoping the heavier work will also stimulate my appetite.  I do not want to drop more than a pound per week these days.

I will need to figure something out for keeping my knees warm in the winter weather.  Saturday morning's training session left my knees a little achey, which I attribute to not staying warm. I am thinking long underwear or neoprene knees sleeves will do the job.  Maybe I can just take short rest periods.

On a non-training related note, tomorrow evening I will be getting a pool table. I am very excited.  The Olympic weight set guys never got back to me and a good deal came around on a used Gold Crown III table. I have definitely blown through my wish list fund and then some, but it will be worth it. Depending how my employment situation plays out, I may still end up getting the weight set in the near future.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Unstructured Activity

Wednesday afternoon's post lunch slump gradually gave way to a strong desire to get in the gym and lift.  Not one to deny greatness, I left work a little early and hit the weights.

This workout was relatively unstructured, but I enjoyed it.  The exercises went like this:

45 Degree Back Extension: 3x10
One Arm Swings: 5/5 x 12k, 16k, 20k, 24k
One Arm Push Press: 3/3 x 12k, 16k, 20k, 24k, 28k
Power Cleans: 5 x 45, 65, 85; 3 x 115, 115, 115
Renegade Rows: 5/5 x 16k's, 16k's
Front Squats: 5 x 45, 65; 3x85

I stopped here.  Gripmas hinted at it, and this workout confirms it.  The Rite of Passage routine is not serving me well.  All my lifts are down, including the ones I have been training.  While the volume of presses and chins I can handle has improved, nothing else has, not even my peak pressing strength.

This indicates it is time for a change.  As of Saturday morning, I am going to return to the 4 day per week lower/upper split that served me so well during the first half of this year. I think higher volume with basic compound exercises will work better than all these one arm presses and chins.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Update

No training yet since the contest, but it seemed time for a blog update:

1. This morning is the first time since last Friday that I feel fully rested.  Travel exhausts me.

2. My hands finally feel good today, but I went into the gym to train and there was no enthusiasm.  I put in one set of 10 on the 45 degree hyperextension and decided to give myself another day off.

3. Thanks to scheduling my grocery delivery a week late, an unexpected Christmas check from my grandpa, and the sale of my pda wrist roller, I have an extra $210 to play with for new toys.  With another $100 available as of Friday's paycheck, I'll be ordering that Olympic weight set this week.  I am waiting on a quote from the vendor to throw a 36k kettlebell in there.

4. The work issues are ironing themselves out even better than I planned.  I am excited at the direction my career is headed.

5. Turns out the cab company is only going to refund the overcharge from the ride to the airport, and not the whole thing.  That bumps my overall contest cost a bit, but it was well worth it.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Gripmas 2007 Results

This weekend I went to Crooksville, OH and competed at Gripmas 2007. The few days leading up to Gripmas were taken pretty easy. I entered into the contest well rested and under trained. The events went like this:




Grippers in Chokers - Maxed at a #2

Two Handed Pinch - Maxed at 116, failed at 126

Axle Deadlift - Maxed at 209, failed at 220

Medley - Got 4 of 21 lifts: #1 strap hold, easy wide pinch, 77lb 3" Dumbbell (PR), and Anvil by Horn

Reverse Bending - Barely got 7"x1/4" CRS round, failed at 6"

100lb Plate Hold for Time - 23 seconds (16 second PR)




In each of the first 3 events, I got the weight just below my current PR, but missed the weight just over. The medley was balanced very well, keeping me busy the entire 150 seconds, but also challenging the top guys. It really brought down my reverse bending. The plate hold for time was a nice surprise, with a huge PR.




My event attempts strategy was to start one notch below what I expect to be able to hit on any given day, and then increment up in small jumps from there. This worked well. I hit my max in 2 attempts on grippers, pinch, and the axle. I hit it in on my first attempt on the reverse bending. One thing I need to consider now is not taking attempts I will fail in each event. I went all out on axle and pinch attempts I could not hit, and that hurt my overall results.




This is the first contest where I am in second to last place instead of last place, but in fairness, the guy who was placed behind me totally skipped bending. I am sure he could have gotten on the board, which would have put me back in last place. Ah well




After the contest I did the following:




40k Kettlebell - 2 Hand Swings, 1 Hand Swings, Clean each arm, Goblet Squat

130lb Sand Bag - Lift to chest twice

Chin Up on Rings

Partial Chin Up on Eagle Loops




It does not look like much, but the kettlebell and sand bag took a lot out of me. I may end up making a sand bag at some point, it was fun. I definitely have no need for a 40k kettlebell for now. The 36k will be ordered in the next few months. Chris has some of the bumper plates I have been looking at, but the gym was too full for me to try them.




The day after the contest, other than some soreness in my hands and forearms, I feel pretty good. This week of lifting will be relatively unstructured, allowing my body and mind to recuperate. The mental need to recover from max attempts and the stresses of travel is my primary concern. I do plan to hit my Rite of Passage Heavy workout on Sunday with three 5 rung ladders.




Cost wise, this contest worked out much better than Michigan. I spent 74 in cabs, 42 of which I expect to get back due to an error by the cab company. I dropped 25 on the contest fee, 120 on plane tickets, 126 on the hotel, and 40 on food. Total cost was 365, 42 of which I hope to get back, for a total cost of 323. Mike getting me to and from the airport made a huge difference in keeping the expenses down.




I am very glad I went.


Gripmas 2007 Experience



Friday after catching my plane to Columbus, I met up with Mike Amos of Anvil or Hammer fame at the airport. He gave me a ride to the hotel, where we checked in and got some dinner. I had a chance to chat with Mike for awhile and he's a great guy, very down to earth and easy to get along with. We share a similar perspective on many things.




After a decent night's sleep, we went to the Super 8 continental breakfast and then lucked into seeing Josh Dale on our way back to the room. We talked with him for awhile while he ate breakfast and then got things together for the long haul to the park 'n ride. Josh got us up to speed on the guys to watch for in the contest and re-aligned my perspective on the type of work a dietician does. They do way cooler stuff than just help people lose weight.




A number of us met up at the park and ride - Stew, Nick, Eric Milfeld, Doc, Jeremiah (an MMA guy Nick is training), and Dave Thorton. Eric has earrings made out of tiny bent nails, totally cool. Stew took 6 of us in his van and showed what a former truck driver can do on the hilly country roads, telling stories the whole time. He's extremely entertaining and made the ride go by in no time.




Crooksville is small town America, we literally almost missed it. Town is a few small shops with a couple stop lights, and that's it. Chris wins the coolest house in town by default, just from his awesome gym. By the time we got there, things were already in full force, with John Eaton hard at work calibrating grippers. A number of other guys were helping things along.




I spent the time they were calibrating grippers looking at the cool stuff Chris has. It was very similar to being at Don Larkin's gym, with little pieces of iron history all over the walls. Everywhere I looked there was something I had always wanted to see or try. Even better, there were things that I didn't even know I needed to see, but I got to. He has unique equipment, contest results, pictures, quotes, prizes, even the cover of the first Strength and Health he got with his first weight set. It is excellent.




We ran through rules and got down to work. Brad (a local powerlifter) brought his wife with, and she was promptly drafted to run the events and scoring. She was a great sport about it and stuck with the job the entire contest. I really enjoy the grip stuff and would have been thoroughly tired of it half way through the contest. Major thanks are due to her for tracking the full contest results.




Grippers went quite well. Chris had a full range of grippers in chokers in very small increments, going all the way up to #4 level. I was kind of laughing at the range they were calibrated up to, and then Josh came along to close the hardest available gripper, gave Eaton a harder gripper to calibrate, and then closed that one too. Awesome. I do not know much more about the gripper results, I find it hard to pay attention to grippers in contests any more.




Next up was two handed pinch. This is where I expected to be separated from the pack, and sure enough, I was. I went for the narrower width along with Zach and his dad Dean. They both blew past me on the pinch, with Dean edging Zach out for the higher lift. Dean has never trained grip before and was persuaded by Zach to compete, so it was pretty fun to watch him beat Zach. It was also humbling for me. I am sure this is the first time he ever touched the implement. Mike is another guy who did great for his first time on the device, hitting 170.




The big guys of course lifted big weights, with Jedd making an attempt at the new world record. It wasn't to happen today, but it was fun to watch him try for it. John Eaton gave us all a great demonstration on the value of starting the lift with the apparatus perpendicular to the ground. This is also where the guys with strength backgrounds started separating themselves from the pure grip guys. Overall body training is the biggest determinant of grip strength by far.




Axle deadlifts followed two handed pinch. Chris has a great setup for all the plate loaded lifts, with weights calibrated down to a very fine level of detail. Bob was a huge surprise here, deadlifting close to double body weight on the axle, at a slim 159lbs. He's a great example of why you should never judge someone's strength based upon their size. Eric, Dave, and Jedd pushed the limits on this event, along with another local lifter. The powerlifters did very well, with Jeremiah Fox and Brad both bringing up big weights with limited grip exposure. Chris ran things up with the best of them, giving me something to aspire towards at any age.




Next up was Chris's medley. This thing was a true work of art - 21 objects to be loaded in two minutes and thirty seconds. Chris gave us all a primer, and then he showed how it was done, loading 20 of 21 objects in 2 minutes and 30 seconds. The only guys who got more were Dave and Jedd, who at this point I expect to be able to do anything and everything . Dave upset Jedd as my favorite, beating him out on time. For someone so calm, Dave plowed through the events with impressive speed. Here everyone pitched in unloading implements and really made things run smoothly, especially given the number of guys.




After the medley was reverse bending. A number of guys had not reverse bent much before, including Jeremiah (the MMA guy) and Bob. Jeremiah did well from what I could tell. Bob got through some 7"x3/16 square using my Ironmind pads, which was excellent for his first time bending. Based on his other lifts, with a little form tweaking, he will be able to go far beyond that level. At this point I was too tired to track what everyone got, but the intensity level was high.




Next up came 100lb plate holds for time, the final event. Chris's son set things up so all the scoring was tracked in an excel spreadsheet on a laptop. Between events the scores were updated, meaning that for this final event things were set to line guys up to face off for their placings. That added a lot of excitement to the event, as we gradually built up to the stronger guys and longer times. I went first and then took position spotting one of the hundreds, to get first hand view of the coping strategies.




This is an event where an experienced strength background made a huge difference in endurance. As much as a test of strength, it was a test of pain tolerance and will power. The guys who really excelled were able to commit their entire being into the lift, to the point where exertion with just their finger tips was making their face turn red and their entire bodies tremble. The intensity was insane, and I think everyone dug as deep as they were capable of. This was the loudest the room got all day, with everyone screaming and yelling. What a great way to explore limits.




Post contest Chris's wife hooked us all up with lots of food, while his son helped to tabulate scores. The food was very good and dinner was the quietest the gym got all day. Everyone just sat and shoveled. I could almost hear Homer Simpson going "can't talk, eating". There were awesome cookies and brownies a few of the guys wives had made. I know Brad's wife made some of them, another of the Ohio guy's wives did as well, I believe.




Dinner was followed by placings and prizes. I know Jedd and Eric were the top two. I don't remember all the other placings, but I do recall Brad coming in at 6th, which is impressive given he started training grip 3 weeks ago. Nick and John Eaton both made an excellent showing for guys who never train. Chris worked with a number of sponsors for the contest and quite a few cool toys were handed out, along with some very creative trophies. Everyone got a frying pan with their contest results on them.




Post contest the toys were broken out and many cool things happen. Here's what I can recall:




Anson doing a muscle up on the rings, followed by several other guys coming very close. Anson is one of those guys who is actually beyond the highest expectations I have for my training. Most surprising on the rings was Jedd, at 265, getting almost all the way up into the start position for the dip on a muscle up. Zach very nearly made it as well. Here I watched and learned a little about how a false grip is used on the rings to get better leverages.




Nick did some awesome stuff. I knew Nick was strong, but I didn't realize how strong. He was flipping the 40k kettlebell, did a 2 hands anyhow with an anvil and a 32k kettlebell, and U'd an enormous piece of flat stock. I think it was 4 foot by 1/2" by 1". That was just sick. I'm pretty sure he got a larger 3/8" grade 5 bolt and I saw him casually rip a deck of cards.




Doc was another surprise, shouldering two different sand bags one at a time, each well over 100lbs. That might not seem like a big deal, but he could only use one arm. It was a definite sight to look over and see him on the floor wrestling with a sand bag using one arm, with the other arm out to the side, wrist in a brace. Two severed tendons from work didn't stop him from putting on an excellent show.




Bob's wife was not one to let him steal all of the pound for pound strength glory. She did an excellent job of pinching 3 10lb plates with one hand, which I am going to guess was more than 1/3 body weight. It impressed everyone there, more so than a lot of the other stuff that went on that day.




Jedd of course was a machine, lifting two blobs, as well as doing cleaning one by the face. Just about anything one person did, he stepped up and did as well.




John Eaton was the inspiration for Jedd cleaning the blob by the face, doing it first with each hand. He also showed us a trick by crushing a bottle cap between his pinky and rings fingers. It looked painful, but he destroyed the bottle cap.




Several guys showed me how things were done on the sand bags, with Mike putting everything through Chris's 200lb bag overhead. I was also given a crash course on how to pick up the smallest bag, which I never would have gotten to my chest otherwise.




Stew started a round of chins on Chris's eagle loops. By themselves they were impressive, but with the anvil between his feet, they were nuts. To make it even cooler, after Nick did the same with the anvil, Stew upped the ante by using 2 24k kettlebells. Chris also pulled himself up on the eagles loops with the anvil between his feet.




Josh bought a 175lb 2.5" solid thick handled dumbbell Zach had made for him, for under $200. It was a little harder than the Inch and stopped everyone there. Zach also brought the 130ish thick handled dumbbell he made. I believe Jedd put it overhead. These dumbbells are pretty cool, and I think Zach has the materials needed to make another 175lber cheap if someone contacts him.




Chris set things up for a weaver stick lift, which I had never seen before. He did quite well at it, actually breaking the Masters world record on the lift. John Eaton was another big shower here, pushing things out close towards the open world record. Eric and Jedd stuck with him most of the way as well.




Chris broke out a table top wrist curl setup, with Josh making the biggest showing, taking some huge weights for a ride. I stayed far, far away from this one, wanting nothing to do with the injury potential. Josh was wrist curling almost twice the weight than I can deadlift.




Another cool item I saw was a loadable blob made by Mike Buck. It had nicely rounded edges and looked like a killer pinch device. He said it was made on the cheap, but I really don't think they can get any nicer.




That is all I can remember, but it was an excellent time and I am very glad I went. Once again my expectations on strength were re-aligned. A number of the guys made lasting impressions on me and will be shaping my training for years to come. The grip guys are a great group and I really enjoy spending time with them. Chris put on a top tier contest and the thought he put into each event really showed. His experience was a benefit to of all us, with things running exceptionally smooth given the huge number of participants, especially for a first time contest.




Oh, and the smartest thing I saw all day - Chris taking the group picture before lifting started. That's wisdom.




Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Variety

This morning was my variety workout.  Yesterday I worked out a rather permanent solution to my work problems that relieved a lot of stress, but also left my too excited to sleep well.  That coupled with the snow storm had me going into this one tired and a bit stiff.  I opted for squats driven by the Gymboss:

Warm Up
Goblet Squats every 90 seconds: BW, 12k, 16k, 20k, 24k, 28k, 32k, 16k's, 16k's, 16k's

That's it.  This left my very sweaty and tired.  My new house is awesome in winter.  The forest preserve covered in snow is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.  To top it off, the association plows driveways, sidewalks, and walks to our porch.  I am very happy today.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Rite of Passage - Light

Simple workout this morning:

20k One Arm Press Ladders: 5 x (1/1, 2/2)
Chins: 1, 1, 1, 1, 1
6 minutes 20k snatches: 5/5 at 0, 1:30, 3, and 4:30

That's it.  Body weight is holding at 177.


Sunday, December 2, 2007

Rite of Passage - Heavy

Sunday morning means time for my heavy workout.  This one went exactly as planned:

20k One Arm Press Ladders: 5 x (1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4)
Chin Ladders: 5 x (1/1, 2/2, 3/3)
10 Minutes 20k Swings: 7/7 at 0, 1:30, 3, 4:30, 6, 7:30, and 9 minutes

I felt good at the end.  Next Sunday will be a down day due to Gripmas the day before.  Then I'll add a rung and go back to 3 ladders.

Yesterday I went to look at Brunswick pool tables.  They are sweet.  I am looking forward to filling the open spot in my basement.


Friday, November 30, 2007

Variety

This morning I was feeling weak and did not have much energy for training.  I went into the garage and felt quite cold.  After turkish get ups with 12k, 16k, and 20k on each side, my enthusiasm waned.  I think the squats on Wednesday took more out of me than I realized, especially when coupled with the recent work stress.

Bodyweight hit 177 this morning.  This was not intentional, but instead the result of accumulated stresses.  The weekend is coming and will provide ample time for me to get things back in gear.  Gripmas is next Saturday, and I am looking forward to it.  The 4 day work week won't hurt either.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rite of Passage - Medium

This morning was my medium workout. Yesterday's squats left me feeling a little drained, so I slept in an extra hour and rushed through the workout, then slammed a protein shake for breakfast.  Total workout time was 35 minutes:

20k One Arm Press Ladders: 4 x (1/1, 2/2, 3/3)
Chin Ladders: 4 x (1/1, 2/2)
5 Minutes 20k Swings: 5/5 at 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 minutes

Again, having the timer is great.  It lets me focus on doing the swings instead of watching the clock.  I am very happy with it.  The presses went just fine.  With the posture adjustments I made and rotation of the kettlebell as I press, my shoulder no longer clicks or hurts.  Bodyweight hit 178 this morning, so the chins were pretty easy.

Work is still interfering with my ability to recover stress free.  Progress is being made, however.  A plan exists and I am executing it aggressively.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Variety Day

Last night was a mixed bag.  Some unpleasantries began coming to a head at work, but I did sell the used weight set.  It felt good to reply to the guy trying to negotiate me down with the "sorry, all sold" message.  This morning I got up and tossed around the work problems a little more, then headed out into the gym.  I felt like doing whatever I wanted, so I did around 10 sets of squats, most with chains.  It was a lot of fun and I think the chains are tweaked how I want them now.

Over the course of the day today I'll work in some Vice Gripper.  No firm decision to buy bumper weights yet, but I've got the funds.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rite of Passage - Light

This morning's light workout went pretty easy.  I did the following:

20k One Arm Press Ladders: 4 x (1/1, 2/2)
Chin Ladders: 4 x (1/1)
12 Minutes 20k Snatches: 6/6 at 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 minutes

I think I can attribute the ease partially to my eating over the past week.  Aided by $14 worth of Chinese food yesterday (stupid delivery minimums), my body weight pegged the scale at 183 this morning.  I am back to normal eating now and expect to drop back down in the next day or two.  The extra food should make hitting Sunday's heavy workout easy.

I used the Gymboss timer on my snatch sets.  I wish I'd bought a timer years ago.  The ability to set separate work and rest periods is awesome.  The round counting feature is another huge plus.  This was most definitely worth the $23 I spent on it.

I think I may have a buyer for the weights I put up for sale.  We'll see if they show at 8pm tonight.  I also cleaned up what is left of the things we moved from the basement to the garage.  The gym is shaping up quite nicely again.  I enjoy having the extra open space.  I derive pleasure from getting rid of things I do not use, especially when someone pays me to haul them away.

I continue to debate on the Olympic bar and plates.  The other thing I need to consider is the prospect of getting a 36k kettlebell for the same money.  I am leaning towards pushing all the way down to 158 by the end of March, at a rate of 5lbs a month.  Knocking items off my goals list will depend on having that half bodyweight kettlebell.  Of course, the more obvious solution is to wait on the kettlebell until I hit my target weight.  Selling the weight set tonight and getting paid on Friday may be enough to make me pull the trigger for the Olympic set.  We'll see. 


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Rite of Passage - Heavy

Getting into the heavy workout this morning was tough.  After a week of doing whatever I want, I was in no mood to focus.  Saturday I spent relaxing, putting some time into investigating a pool table, as well an Olympic barbell with bumper plates.  I think I have the weights figured out, but the pool table will take a lot of planning.


I spent the first part of Sunday morning putting together a 300lb weight set to sell on Craig's list.  Somehow I have accumulated over 900lbs in iron plates.  That is far more than I can use, so I pulled 300lbs, a barbell, collars, and some other stuff and posted it online as a set.  Hopefully it sells.


After my scrounging, I dug into the workout. It went like this:


20k One Arm Press Ladders: 4 x (1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4)
Chin Ladders: 4 x (1/1, 2/2, 3/3)
2 Minutes 20k One Arm Swings: Set every 30 seconds - 5/5, 5/5, 5/5, 5/5


Pretty good for a week off.  I probably could have forced a fifth round on each ladder, but I chose to leave something to achieve next Sunday.  Since it will be my last heavy workout before Gripmas, I want to set it up for success.  I used the Gymboss timer for the swings.  It works great.


My expectations for Gripmas at this point are to show up and have fun meeting people.  My grip strength is far from peaking and shows no signs of doing so in the next two weeks.  I am ok with that though.


Post workout was spent making a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner with my wife.  We had tofurkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet corn, sparkling juice, and a rice / veggie mix.  I ate until my breath was short and laying down was  not an option.  The food was awesome.


My power yoga materials have arrived, but I have yet to dig into them.  That may need to wait for my next down week.  Once the weight set sells, it is quite possible I will move forward with purchase of an Olympic barbell and some bumper plates.  I am looking at the equipment sold by Wichita Falls Weightlifting. 


I am torn between the lifetime guarantee barbell or the economy one.  Both are sufficient for my needs, but the higher quality bar will hold its value better.  I am also debating on what bumper plates to get.  I think a pair of the 10k and 15k plates is enough for my needs, but I can get a deal buying the 20k plates with them. This is probably how I ended up with 900lbs in iron plates...


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Holiday Review

Wednesday
Half day at work on Wednesday. Enjoying the down week, I spent almost my entire workout trying to figure out how to overhead squat.  There is something I am seriously lacking in my form, and I have no idea what it is.  I am hoping someone at Gripmas can set me straight.  I also did a few axle deadlifts, including a failed attempt at 223.

Wednesday evening my wife and I went through the basement, sorting through the impressive pile of items that have accumulated since moving in.  Given how little we shop, I am amazed how much we own.  Much of it was identified for disposal or donation.

Thursday
Thursday morning I woke up early to continue work on the basement.  For approximately two hours I carted assorted items and boxes from the basement to the garage.  Eventually everything we intend to get rid of was in the garage, and I had achieved my goal for the day of "do something strenuous".  Off weeks are great.  The crazy part is even with all the extra stuff in the garage, the basement still looked too full!

Later that afternoon my parents came by and we went to my aunt's house for thanksgiving.  I actually had a great dinner consisting of a whole grain bread with seeds and fruit, fruit salad, cashews, water, and sparkling juice.  Normally there is very little I can eat at Thanksgiving, but this holiday was much different.  It made me happy.  My uncle got a mini-helicopter which I am very jealous of.

My mom indicated she can take most of the items from the basement to sell at the animal shelter's yearly garage sale.  We'll give one friend a chance to sort through the stuff for her new stuff, then I can get the remainder out of my gym.

Friday
Again my goal for Friday was "do something strenuous".  During the morning I finished moving what was left in the basement to one spot for storage.  After some rest, I got around to strapping on my old roller blades, pads, and helmet.  4 years ago I put these in storage, after I wiped when a wheel broke going down a huge hill at full speed.  The resulting scrapes, bruises, and ruined wrist guard were enough to turn me off skating for awhile.  Never very good, the session Friday morning was shaky at best.  A few runs up and down the street were enough for my first time out.  It is fun though. 

Friday afternoon my wife and I went to my parents for lasagna.  It was excellent and I returned home full of energy.  The basement got swept and we talked about my plans to turn it into a game room.  For the first time in my life I have space for a full sized pool table.  The prospect is exciting for me, but I do have reservations about dropping the money.  There are some critical items I intend to sort at work over the next month that should make my decision.

I also tried training my neck briefly.  Nothing fancy, just a plate on the head.  It works pretty well.  I will try to put a neck exercise or two in my workouts on a regular basis. 

Overall
So far I am really enjoying the break from working.  I have made a point to read every day and am getting much needed rest.  The total exhaustion that had set in from training so hard is gone.  I was smart to back off and look forward to Sunday's training session.  Also, body weight has been running at 179 all week, so a little unexpected progress there. I had planned for Thanksgiving to push me back over 180, but I guess not.

I have been thinking about bumper plates more.  Early this week I cleaned out the garage and created a great spot for a dish of bumpers.  The idea is gnawing at me, and I am scheming ways to get them on my budget.  I think I can put together a 300lb Olympic weight set to sell on Craigslist.  We'll see what happens.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Two Down

Sunday was scheduled to be my heavy day, but exhaustion has set in.  I find myself sleeping for ten hours and then waking up tired.  That, coupled with a nervous feeling about the heavy workout, made me decide it is time for a back off week.  Instead of the regularly scheduled program, I went for my chin goal of 5 reps.  It felt so good, I knocked off two more sets and got the 3x5 goal as well.  Here's the video:

3x5 Chins

Those chins and a few singles of one arm presses were my entire workout.  Then I went off to the hardware store to look into getting my garage door insulation.  After reviewing the options with my Dad, the best solution is to buy an insulated garage door.  They are about $1200 installed, so I am not prepared to do that right now.  The other options are very temporary fixes by their nature, and it is unlikely they will do much for me.  Instead, I chose the often overlooked but surprisingly effective option of doing nothing.

While at the hardware store, I got the fasteners and top chain for my heavy chains, which arrived Saturday.  I got home, set everything up, and did some front squat singles.  The chains are a lot of fun.  I probably do not need their training effect right now, but man do they look cool and get my energy up to squat.  That is enough to make the investment worthwhile.

Over the weekend I also ordered a Gymboss timer.  That completes everything I can justify purchasing for my gym in the near term.  I've decided to hang on to my money for now and place a hold on any equipment spending until the spring.  I need to focus on putting what I have to work.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Variety

Friday morning I did a variety workout.  It went like this:

Turkish Get Ups: 1/1 x 12k, 16k, 20k, 24k, 45lbs, 50lbs, 55lbs (PR)

That's it.  It was short and worked me pretty hard.  The weights in pounds were on a barbell, and I am getting more comfortable with that method of doing them.  I like the additional stress it puts on my grip.

After my shower I weighed in at 179.8, meaning I have hit my target for Gripmas.  My new plan is to keep the clean eating I picked up over the last 2 weeks, but add a little more food.  I'd like to end the Rite of Passage cycle on December 30th at a body weight of 175.  I am light enough now that quality of body weight becomes a much stronger consideration.

First quarter of '08, I'm going to do a 12 week cycle with either the program from Starting Strength or the Westide Beginner's template.  During that 12 week period, I plan to keep my weight between 170 and 175.  I will also experiment with Creatine supplementation, which holds potential for me as a vegetarian.  I'd like to build up some more strength before I decide if it makes sense to take my weight all the way down to 158.

I also went to the zoo and walked around all day with my wife.  It was awesome.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Chris Rice Speaks, I Listen

Just ordered Power Yoga, by Beryl Bender Birch.  As long as I was on Amazon, I also grabbed the DVD and sequel book.  Total cost $20.  We'll see what I think.  Chris usually knows what he is talking about.


Rite of Passage - Medium

Today was the medium Rite of Passage workout.  The workout was pretty quick, maybe 40 minutes.  It went like this:

One Arm Clean and Press: 1/1 x 12k, 16k
20k Clean and Press Ladders: 5 x (1/1, 2/2)
Chin Ladders: 5 x (1, 2)
9 minutes 20k one arm swings: 8/8 at 0, 2, 4, 6, and 8 minutes

That's it.  Barely even broke a sweat.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Variety Day

This morning was my variety day.  I woke up a little later, at 6:30, but took the time to get a good workout in.  It went down like this:

Warm Up: Various bodyweight squats to different heights
Front Squats: 5 x 45, 65, 85, 105, 105, 105
Reverse Bending: Easy Timber Tie, 2 Medium Timber Ties, 2 Pre-Kinked 7" 1/4" Round, 2 7" x 1/4" Round
Renegade Rows: 5/5 x 16k, 16k, 16k
18" DO Axle Lockouts: 5 x 73, 123, 173, 173

I felt very alive by the end of this workout.  It may have had something to do with the extra sleep from last night.  Body weight hit 181 this morning.  I am going to hit my Gripmas goal. 

I sold some posessions this weekend, including my Wii for $250, so I am going to buy a few nice things to celebrate success.  First on the list is insulating the garage door, which will be about $30.  Edit - I just bought a 51lb pair of chains for $71 on ebay.  Maybe I'll look into that Ashanta yoga as well...


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rite of Passage - Light

This morning was the light Rite of Passage workout.  Taken with the right attitude, these workouts rejuvenate me.  I did 5x1 chins, 5x1/1 one arm presses with the 20k bell, and a set of 8/8 snatches with the 20k bell.  It was fast, easy, and felt great.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rite of Passage - Heavy

Sunday is heavy, always heavy.  The Rite of Passage workout went down like this:

20k One Arm Press Ladders: 5 x (1/1, 2/2, 3/3)
Chin Ladders (Alternate Sets w/ Presses): 3 X (1/1, 2/2, 3/3), 2 X (1/1, 2/2)
20k One Arm Swings: 9 minutes - 9X6/6 (one set at the start of each minute)

Today was a breakthrough day in two respects:

1. I finally learned what Pavel means by "screw the shoulder into the socket".  As I pressed with the kettlebell, I literally pivoted it around my forearm while moving upwards.  Instead of pressing straight up and down, my arm went from internal rotation in the rack position to external rotation at the top of the press.  This was much easier on my shoulders and stopped the light clicking I was getting at the top of the press with my right arm.  It feels great to press freely again.

2. I took my chin ladders to 3's on the first 3 sets of the workouts.  This aligns with my new understanding of how I will progress volume as I increase reps.  Now that I am doing all my sets, I will increase the first 3 sets of my press ladders to 4's next weekend.  Then I will add a set of 4's and 3's to the presses and chins each of the next two weekends, so the week before Gripmas I hit 5 ladders with the new rep counts for both exercises.  From there, the world!

Afterwards I downed a protein shake and attempted to train my grip.  It went poorly.  Later in the evening I tried again, still weak.  I think the swings fried me.  At bowling a broke 100 all three games.  Sweet!


Friday, November 9, 2007

Variety Day

The cards were stacked against a workout today.  Thursday night I was up until almost midnight due to a code push at work.  It's part of the job, and I just have to deal with it.  Friday I slept in, and then made time for a brief workout in the evening.  It went like this:

Turkish Get Ups: 1/1 x 12k, 16k, 20k, 24k (PR), 45lb Barbell; Fail x 60lb dumbbell
Assisted Pistol Practice

I am happy to have got the TGU with the 24k kettlebell.  I was surprised how much hard using a barbell was.  It really wants to spin around on me.  There was no hope with the dumbbell, I didn't even get into a seated position.

The pistol practice was encouraging.  I still cannot do one, but I am able to briefly balance in the bottom position now.  As soon as I start to push up I fall over though.  My ankles and knees need to get stronger; it would also help to have the circumference of my waist and thighs a bit smaller.

Body weight hit 182 in the morning.



Thursday, November 8, 2007

Rite of Passage - Medium

Medium rite of passage workout this morning.  I was well rested.  It went like this:

Warm Up: Clean and Press 12k KB, then 16k KB, each side
20k Press Ladders: 1/1, 2/2, 1/1, 2/2, 1/1, 2/2, 1/1, 2/2
Chin Ladders (alternate sets with presses): 1/1, 2/2, 1/1, 2/2, 1/1, 2/2, 1/1, 2/2
2 Minutes 20k Swings: 10/10, 10/10 (set on minutes 0 and 1)

Total workout time was just over 30 minutes.  I asked around and found the secret to keeping the overall workout time short is to move through the lighter sets as quickly as possible without missing reps.  Sure enough it worked great and actually felt better than resting 1-2 minutes between sets.

I am enjoying following someone else's program.  It is so simple to just go in the garage and do what is scheduled for the day.  I appreciate the lack of complexity.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Variety Day

I have been going to bed before 9pm.  The time change has really helped to sort my sleep out for the morning workouts.  I am also getting used to lifting in more clothes.  This morning I started with a fleece, hat, and gloves on.  The workout went like this:

Front Squats: 5 x 45, 65, 85, 95, 95, 95
Renegade Rows: 5/5 x 16k, 16k, 16k
Windmills: 5/5 x 12k, 12k
Sledge Levers to Head: 5/5 x 6lbs@20", 6lbs@22", 6lbs@24"

That's it.  The theme was sets of 5 worked with moderate effort.  I focused on what the ladder days don't hit and felt good at the end.

On an unrelated note, being hungry sucks.  I am eating clean every meal.  It leaves me tired and bored with my food.  The bright side is my strength is staying up and my body weight hit 183 this morning.  I am counting the weeks to Gripmas very carefully now.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Rite of Passage - Light

Light workout this morning, nice and easy:

Clean and Press 12k Once Per Side
20k Presses: 1/1, 1/1, 1/1, 1/1
Chins: 1, 1, 1, 1
20k Snatches - 2 minutes, sets at 0 and 1 minutes: 5/5, 5/5

That's it.  I was done in 15 minutes.  Sufficient sleep and a good attitude make all the difference.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Rite of Passage - Heavy

Sunday is my heavy day for the rite of passage program.  I went to bed at 5:30 on Saturday, after sleeping too little Friday night and eating a huge late lunch.  Sleeping more or less through to morning left me feeling well rested and ready to go.  I did the following:

20k One Arm Press Ladders: 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 1/1, 2/2, 3/3
Chin Ladders (Alternate Sets w/ Presses): 1/1, 2/2, 1/1, 2/2, 1/1, 2/2, 1/1, 2/2
20k One Arm Swings: 11 minutes - 8/8 at 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 minutes

After using the bathroom and mixing up a protein shake, I went for some grip and ab work:

Double Underhand Bending: 2 Easy Timber Ties
Reverse Bending: 10 Medium Timber Ties (alternate anchor hand each nail)
27.5lb Blob to Bench: 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 2/2, 1/1
Crunches: 10, 10, 10

Given the workout before hand, my grip felt decent.  The ab work stinks, but my physical therapist told me I need to do it.  I noticed during the swing sets that my right foot is not rotating outwards as much.  That is a good sign the stretching is working. 

Overall I am happy with how this workout went, but I am feeling concerned about how the program progresses.  Presses plus Chins today was 20 sets.  Doing that with the swings took my an hour and fifteen minutes.  Next Saturday is 25 sets.  The next jump is to add a set to each ladder, which bumps it to 35 sets.  Then I am supposed to add another set to each ladder, bumping it to 45 sets.  That seems like an awfully long workout.  I can make the time, but I'm just not sure what will happen.

Eating was sub-par Saturday and Sunday.  After posting about my blitz plan, my wife's Grandma was in town, so we went for deep dish pizza.  Then on Sunday after my 2 hour workout, my dad and I made a 5 mile round trip walk to a pizza place, for more deep dish pizza.  I need to work on that.  Body weight was 185 this morning.  I have been hitting the active recovery and sleep as planned.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Time to Cram

Gripmas is 5 weeks from today.  I took the last 2 weeks easy to recover from the 10 mile run and accommodate the postural changes from my visit to physical therapy.  It is time for a 5 week blitz, where I do everything possible to maximize results from my training and hit a short term peak.  For the next 5 weeks I will:

1. Hit all 5 of my scheduled training sessions each week

2. Use the time change to return to morning workouts

3. Allow no deviations in my nutritional plan, providing for quality food on a per meal basis

4. Perform a daily active recovery session

5. Lie down for bed by 9pm Sun-Th, 11pm Fr/Sat, midnight exception for bowling and code releases

6. Play no video games (I need time from somewhere!)

I am ready for this.  I can do anything for a month.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Rite of Passage - Medium

Thursday evening I performed the medium rite of passage workout.  It went like this:

Walk Home from Work to Warm Up
20k One Arm Press Ladders: 1/1, 2/2, 1/1, 2/2, 1/1, 2/2
Alternate sets with Chin Ladders: 1/1, 2/2, 1/1, 2/2, 1/1, 2/2
3 Minutes 20k One Arm Swings: 7/7, 7/7, 7/7

That's it.  The workout was short, easy, and I barely broke a sweat.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rite of Passage - Light

The light workout this morning.  I really struggled to get myself out of bed for what promised to be 10 minutes of training, but I made it.  The workout went down like this:

15 minute warm up, I was really sluggish
20k Presses: 1/1, 1/1, 1/1
Chins: 1, 1, 1
20k 11 Minute Snatch Set: 6x5/5 = 60 reps, one set every 2 minutes

I was shocked how heavy everything felt this morning.  I never train the same muscles 48 hours after a heavy workout.  The snatches with my 20k might actually be harder than with my 24k due to the larger handle, but I made them go.  I was really hoping to pull a 2 or 3 out of my deck of cards, but of course got a jack for 11 minutes.

There may be something to these light days.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Physical Therapy Summary

Thursday I met with the physical therapist.  45 minutes with him revealed a specific diagnosis and set the stage for developing a good treatment plan.  Here is what I am working with:

DIAGNOSIS
My pelvis is in a constant state of anterior tilt, which forces my lumbar back into exaggerated lordosis.  Essentially, I stick my butt out and then arch my back to compensate for it.  Since I am not a playboy bunny, this is a bad thing.

This problem is associated with three muscular dysfunctions:

1. The hip flexors, especially on my right hip, are overly tight
2. The abdominal muscles on the front of my stomach are weak and overstretched
3. My posterior chain (spinal erectors and hip extensors) is in a constant state of contraction to compensate

As a result, I am unable to achieve a posterior pelvic tilt in the standing position

CAUSE
I think the root cause is my misapplication of the standard advice to avoid rounding the back when lifting.  I have interpreted that as "allowing a posterior pelvic tilt at any time is a terrible thing to do and should be avoided at all costs".  I think that has allowed the other problems to manifest, but addressing those problems without fixing my postural patterns will do no good.

The physical therapist also pointed out during my snatch sets I am risking serious injury by misapplication of the "no rounded back" advice.  As the kettlebell leaves my hips, I hyperextend my spine to "thrust with the hips", since the actual thrust I should be performing requires full hip extension, but I am incapable of it due to the tight hip flexors.

TREATMENT
The biggest key to resolving this problem is appropriately aligning my posture with the demands of the movements I perform. When standing or lifting weights from the waist up, it is ok to have some posterior pelvic tilt.  My butt should be underneath my torso, supporting my weight, not behind me.  The advice to strongly arch the back is only valid when pulling from the ground or performing a deep squat.  Even then, it should not be excessive.

In addition, I need to focus on strengthening my abdominals with crunches and stretching my hip flexors.  My total avoidance of direct ab work has been misguided.  It is actually necessary in a situation like mine, to help counter the pull of the tight hip flexors and allow my body to achieve a proper resting position.  

While I was trying to stretch the hip flexors before, the physical therapist pointed out to me that I actually was not.  Over the past 10 months my "hip flexor" stretches have been poorly executed and primarily stretched my abdominals.  This is exactly what I don't need.  In order to properly stretch the hip flexors, I have to keep my abs and glutes tight while performing the movements.  That nuance was lost upon me and really emphasizes the importance of working hands on with an expert.

RESULTS
I met with the therapist on Thursday.  It took 45 minutes and cost me $60 for a car rental.  The results so far:

1. By the conclusion of the session Thursday, my right shoulder was sitting considerably better.

2. Friday I focused on walking with my spine in a neutral position.  Over the course of the day a tremendous amount of tension was release from my lower back.  It was painful, but also felt really good.  My shoulder continued sitting better.  My abs were straining the entire day, just from the simple effort of holding neutral spine.

3. Saturday I walked 3.5 miles and focused on maintaining the appropriate tilt in my hips.  Every single step put a stretch on my right hip flexor.  The right hip flexor is much tighter than the left, which flags it as the most likely imbalance causing my foot to externally rotate on deadlifts.

4. Sunday I walked 5 miles, getting the same stretch.  Interestingly, the pump on the right side of my back that typically follows such a long walk was completely absent.  I also lifted, experiencing no loss of strength from the altered posture.  Making time for the crunches highlighted just how weak my abs are.

In just 4 days my body is feeling considerably better.  Prolonged application of this lesson will definitely reduce my risk for injury and improve my performance.  I should have gone much sooner and am very happy to have invested the time when I did.  In addition to improving my deadlift and reducing the risk of back injury, I think this could be the missing link for full recovery of my shoulder.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Rite of Passage - Heavy

Today was my first day on Pavel's rite of passage program.  I did the following

20k Clean and Press Ladders: 3 x 1/1, 2/2, 3/3
Chin Ladders: 3 x 1/1, 2/2
20k Swings: 4 minutes - 8/8 per minute

The clean and presses are hard for me, largely due to the mechanics Pavel recommends.  I am focused on creating maximal tension through the full lift, including the negative.  This is a different style than my preferred method of powering through the positive and just dropping the negative.  20k is a good weight.

I held back a little on the chins, not sure how the sets would add up.  It was a smart choice.  This much pressing is going to be tough on my shoulders at first, I do not need to go all out with the chins at the same time.  By the end of the last ladder, I was tired.

The swings kicked my butt.  I actually pulled a 10 out of my deck of cards, but by the end of the fourth minute I broke into a cold sweat and needed all of my focus to avoid puking.  It appears an 8/8 per minute pace is too aggressive for me to sustain for 10 minutes.  I'll do better next time.


About an hour after this workout, I did some grip work.  It consisted of:

Bending: 2 easy timber ties DU, 2 medium timber ties reverse, easy 60d DO
Play with 6lb Sledge
25lb Block to Bench: 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4
Crunches between sets

The grip work was weak, as a result of the earlier workout.  I did play round with positioning my pointer finger on top of the block instead of the side.  This position is easier on the tendon in my thumb and does not appear to cost me any strength.

I am staying active.  This afternoon I walked 5 miles.  This evening I bowled with my league, with a high score of 152 and an average of 114 and 1/3.  Oddly, I did my best when I stopped trying to throw the ball hard or hook it.  Yesterday I walked 3.5 miles.

Bodyweight has fluctuated in the 185-186 range over the past week.  Given the light workout schedule and eating out, the lack of progress is not unexpected.  I needed a step back to make strides forward.



Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hip Symptoms

Below is a list of the imbalances I am aware in my hip that I will be reviewing with a physical therapist on Thursday evening.  The problem is not bringing me immediate pain but does cause me to avoid frequent deadlifts or squats near my 1 rep max.  I believe it is also impacting the efficiency of my stride when running. 


Symptoms:


1. When deadlifting, the right foot and hip rotate outward. I then rotate my torso to the left to compensate.


2. When going into a deep squat, the right knee will click if I am not fully warmed up and stretched out.  The right foot also tends to rotate outward further than the left.  I believe the hip follows.


3. When walking for several hours, the whole right side of my body pumps up and fatigues, as though I am supporting myself with flexed muscles instead of relying on my skeletal structure.  Stretching afterwards, there is much more tension built up on the right side of my body.


4. When I stretch the hips out and use a fit ball on the deep rotators of the hip, it makes my right shoulder (the one we worked on) feel better and move more freely


5. When pushing weight out of a squat, I favor the left leg


6. When lying relaxed on my back, the right leg rolls to the outside, so the outside of my right foot rests on the ground


7. The right hip flexor does not seem as flexible when stretching (demo stretch).


8. If I stand up from a low platform using one leg (say 14-16"), the left leg is stronger and more stable


9. Lying on my back doing the "bicycle" exercise, straightening the right leg causes something in the hip or lower back to click


10. When running, the right knee takes longer to warm up.  The outside of the left ankle also tires more quickly, as though it is bearing greater load than it should.


11. After a period of inactivity, if I lay on my back with my knees bent and twist them all the way to one side, my spine cracks and pops.  It feels great.  I can do this once or twice a day.

I have attempted to fix the issue myself by developing the flexibility in my hip flexors and extensors, through a variety of lunge and floor based stretches.  About two weeks ago I realized the adductors in my legs are much tighter than the rest of my hip muscles and also started stretching those.  This seems to have let me get into a deep squat with a wider stance, but it is too early to have observed any other benefit.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Strength

Tuesday night was time for a strength workout.  The running took a lot out of me, but at least I did something.  The workout went like this:

Bend Double Underhand: 2xEasy Timber Tie
Bend Reverse Style: 8xMedium Timber Tie
Deadlifts with Mixed Grip: 3 x 135, 135, 185, 185; 1x225, 225, 225, 225;
3 Chin Ups
One Arm Push Press: 3/3 x 16k, 20k, 24k, 24k; 1/1x28k
Power Clean 135lbs
Load 25lb Block Weight to a Bench: 1/1, 2/2, 3/3

That was it.  My knees felt painful in a bad way after the deadlifts, but in a seperate spot than where they ached on Saturday.  I think I may have been banging my knees with the bar.  The alternate grip definitely feels stronger, but I like the double overhand grip better.

Not much else to say.  I have my exercises and reps planned for my variety days in the next cycle. Tuesday I will stick with sets of 5 reps, focusing on squats, renegade rows, windmills, bending, and block weights.  Thursday I will stick with sets of 3 reps, focusing on axle deads, pistol practice, turkish get ups, and maybe some sledge work.  It should be fun.



Monday, October 22, 2007

Weekend Review

Saturday:
I got up early Saturday morning and over the course of two hours jogged the full 10+ miles around the forest preserve.  This is the furthest I ever ran and more than double my last long run.  Pacing is everything.  My feet blistered, near the end of the run I stopped sweating, and when I got home my whole body was shaking.  I did it though.  This marks the end of my running until Spring.  I had the circumnavigation goal in the back of my head when the running started in September, but I did not expect to reach it so soon.  I resumed running 7 weeks ago and failed to jog even a mile on the first run.

Saturday afternoon I planned out my next cycle, which will start on Sunday, 10/28.  The planning was easy, since it is the Rite of Passage program from Enter the Kettlebell. I'll take one or two unstructured workouts with the weights this week, and then go full bore on Sunday.  Saturday night I went out with some friends and spent the evening walking around stiff legged.  My knees ached so bad I had to take stairs on all 4's.

My weight hit 184 Saturday morning.  Things are on track for Gripmas.

Sunday:
Sunday my morning strength workout was definitely off, but my body felt much better.  Going through my normal mobility work and stretching indicated no permanent damage from the hard headed run, so I was happy.  I spent the day relaxing, and then went out for the ultimate of athletic competitions, league bowling.  My average over three games was 99.67, so I have some work to do.

Monday:
As of Monday all I have left to show for the run is an open blister on one foot.  I'll hit the weights tonight and plan to do some bending.  The 5 rep chin goal from my relatively strong list is in the near future, but I may take tonight easy since this is a down week.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Videos

The following videos are from my 10/18 workout.  My lats are the sorest they have been in months.  It is nice to be able to chin for reps again.

4 Chins: http://www.gripfaq.com/videos/20071018BWChins.wmv
Deadlifts: http://www.gripfaq.com/videos/20071018Deadlifts.wmv

My deadlift form clearly needs work.  I have a session scheduled for next Thursday to get my hip problem evaluated by the physical therapist I saw for my shoulder.  Hopefully that provides some insight into what is going on.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bending

This evening I finally made time to do some grip work.  Running has cut into the dedicated grip workouts.  My focus was bending.  I did:

Double Underhand - 4 easy timber ties
Reverse Style - 6 medium timber ties, alternating anchor hands

My bending is definitely weak right now, which usually means my overall hand strength is down.  After this I failed to pop a 2.5" or so phone book.  Hopefully some practice gets me back up to par.

I also started looking into travel to Gripmas.  Flights from O'hare to Columbus are pretty cheap, it's just a matter of figuring out the hotel.  Nick mentioned putting together a carpool from Columbus, so I put a PM into him regarding the meet up location.  I am pretty much going to choose where I stay based upon the highest certainty of a ride to and from the contest.  The need to pay for a round trip cab from Columbus to Crooksville would pretty much kill my chances of attending the contest, and having never owned a car, I don't have enough driving experience to be comfortable doing that in a rental car.


Strength

This morning I woke up at 5:30 and decided to make the most of it.  By 6:15 I was lifting.  Over the course of 90 minutes I did the following:

Warm Up: 1/1 Turkish Get Up with 12k KB
Deadlifts: 3 x 45lbs, 95, 135, 155, 175, 185, 205; 1x225, 225, 245
Chins (between sets of deads): BW x 1, 4, 3, 2, 1
Presses: 3 x 45, 65, 85, 95; 2x105 + 1 push press
Push Press: 3 x 115, 125
Pistol Practice Between Pressing Sets - 6 sets of assisted triples

Overall it was a decent workout.  I originally planned to lift yesterday evening, but ended up late at work and my knees were achey from the running on Tuesday.  I have lost strength on the deadlift, but am very close to one of my chinning goals.  I got some video that I will process and put up later.

I am getting anxious to finish running and get back to lifting 5x a week.  Saturday I will take a long jog and think about it.  It would probably be wise to hit my weight goal for Gripmas before changing anything.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Running Day 2

This morning I went for another run.  I made it 2.5 miles with one rest and full strides.  The next step is to do this run with no rest.  The faster pace tires my body much more evenly, with my muscles, joints, and conditioning all ready to stop at the end.  I am happy with this approach.

I made time for mobility work and soft tissue work last night.  This afternoon I dropped $18 to get Dave Tate's book and the EFS beginner's program.  I've been interested to read both for some time, and they were on sale.  I will probably choose between the program I just purchase and the one in Practical Programming for my next cycle after the Rite of Passage program.

I finally know enough to know I don't know enough to design my own training program.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Get Up

Today was scheduled as a strength workout.  I planned to start things off by hitting my next turkish get up goal, 3x5/5x16k.  As can be seen here, I did it:

http://www.gripfaq.com/videos/20071014TurkishGetUps3x5x16k.wmv

However, it absolutely tanked me.  By the end of Set 1 I was shaking.  Set 2 was hard but I made it.  Set 3 was all about the will to avoid sets 1 and 2 again on another day.  That was it for my workout.  I went inside and showered.  While waiting to go out I did a few lifts of 80-90lbs on my 2 3/8" rolling handle.

The workout took so much out of me that while riding in the car to lunch I actually started getting dizzy and sick to my stomach.  That passed after I ate, but by 6pm I needed a nap and my head hurt.  I probably pushed too hard to get the goal, but am glad I did it.

Body weight hit 187 on Sunday, and actually hit 186 on Monday morning (I'm posting from the future!).  I did do mobility work and soft tissue work in the evening on Sunday.  I am pushing the limit of my movement reserves with my current training and need to do everything possible to hold myself together.  Progress is definitely present though, I was suprised when comparing the video above to my last turkish get up test:

http://www.gripfaq.com/videos/20070713TurkishGetUps3x5x12k.wmv

Taken in 3 month chunks, the small steps add up.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Running Day 1

After the last few long runs, my back has felt achy and my shoulders loose.  I attribute this to the fact that in order to run a long distance, I am using a short stride.  My conditioning is not capable of supporting full length strides over a distance of miles.  I guess you'd call what I was doing jogging.

Today I decided to resolve that and let my legs go.  I focused on using full strides and taking the speed that gives me.  My conditioning gassed out at 1.25 miles.  I rested by walking a bit, ran most of the way home, rested again, then finished.  My next goal is to actually be running for the full 2.5 mile short run, then build the distance from there.  This was much easier on the rest of my body, as I am able to keep everything tight and exercise my joints through the full range of motion.

Later this morning I was bored and did some bending.  I took out 3 easy timber ties, 3 medium timber ties, a 7" x 1/4 round zinc plated CRS, and a 7" x 1/4 round CRS.  The easy stuff was double underhand, harder stuff reverse style.  I seem to have forgotten how to do the double overhand style.  Whoops.

This afternoon I took a nap, stretched, and did some soft tissue work.  I had planned to spent the day outside goofing around, but the plans fell through :p  I ended up spending an inordinate amount of time training as a result.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Strength

This evening was scheduled for a strenth workout, but lifting heavy isn't something I was really in the mood for.  Instead I decided to go for my 3x5/5x16k turkish get ups goal.  I got through the first set, was gassed, and the camera had died, so I decided to stop those.  Then I spent around 30 minutes practicing assisted pistols.  I am not strong enough to do them, but over the course of practicing I found a much better solution than the platform I made out of 45lb plates.

It turns out if I wrap my heavy exercise band over the support of my power rack and choke up on, I can use it to do assisted pistols.  Previously this failed for me, but it was because I had been grabbing the ends of the handles.  By varying the distance I choke up and comparing it to the numbered support holes in my rack, I have a measurable way to increase the resistance over time.  I am excited about this.

Later, when taking a bath, I managed to balance in the bottom position of a pistol several times.  I made my wife come see, but she was not impressed.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Further Still

This morning I ran a bit further, to marker #9 on the path.  I am running it backwards, so this would be a lot more impressive if I was going the other way.  I'd estimate I am just a bit over 4 miles for the run now.

I should stretch tonight.  Weights will probably be tomorrow or Thursday afternoon, depending how I feel.  Right now, I am tired.


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Strength

This morning was my scheduled strength workout.  The running plus walking yesterday left my back a little stiff, so I decided to take the time to enjoy my Sunday workout.  It went like this:


Clean up and Sweep Garage
Receive Groceries, drink free Energy Drink
Front Squats: 3 x 45, 65, 85, 95, 105, 115; 1 x 125, 135
18" DO Axle Deadlifts: 3 x 73, 123, 143, 163, 183; 1x 193, 203; Miss x 213
Chins (alternate sets with presses): 1, 1, 1, 1, 3
Bottoms Up Kettlebell Press: 3/3 x 12k, 16k, 20k, 20k, 20k
Rack Walk with 20k Kettlebells: 75ft
Farmers Walk with 20k Kettlebells: 75ft
Windmills: 3/3 x 10k, 12k, 16k PR

The whole workout went very well.  I didn't push anything and just focused on getting work in.  It took time for the front squats to loosen my hips up, but I actually got some squats in.  I am annoyed at missing the final axle lockout, but my hands were tired from the other work.  3 reps on the chins surprised me.


Another interesting outcome of this workout is that I did most of it barefoot, due to concerns over the old shoes I was wearing.  Sure enough, when I put them back on to do the weighted walks, I could feel my left foot immediately start rolling to the outside.  I did the walks slowly, but barefoot instead.  The old shoes have to be retired.

The windmills actually felt very strong on my left shoulder.  I could have done more weight.  Righty I was at my limit, so I decided to call it a day.


Saturday, October 6, 2007

Next Program

Last week I started using a day planner each day. It has been working great. I am getting more done and feel very good with what my days are producing. One of the key behavioral modifications that has occurred is making time for a daily period of reading. I have been working through Stuart McGill's back performance book one chapter at a time. Interestingly, the main effect this Phd in back science is having on me is a greater appreciation of Pavel's work.

When I finish my running cycle, I am going to do a cycle using the Rite of Passage program from Enter the Kettlebell. I think it will be a good complement to the level of strength and conditioning I will have at the end of my current cycle. The program will be something like this:

Monday - Light: Press / Chins Ladders, Snatch Round (2-12 minutes)
Tuesday - Variety: Turkish Get Ups, Pistol Practice, Grip
Wednesday - Medium: Press / Chins Ladders, Swing Round (2-12 minutes)
Thursday - Variety: Turkish Get Ups, Pistol Practice, Grip
Friday - Rest
Saturday - Heavy: Press / Chins Ladders, Swing Round (2-12 minutes)
Sunday - Rest

I like this program for several reasons:

1. It addresses my mental need to lift on most days, as well as the fatigue I feel from work by Friday.

2. I feel as though my strength has reached the capacity of my joint mobility / stability reserve. This program allows me to focus on increasing that reserve while working with lighter weights.

3. It addresses my imbalance between Pressing and Pulling. One of the primary goals of the program is to improve pressing. There is not a ton of strength focused pulling.

4. Many of my relative strength goals focus on pistols and chins. This program trains those.

5. I think one of the biggest weaknesses of the programs I design is a lack of focus on active flexibility. The limited number of exercises on each day will give me time to learn about how active flexibility fits in a program.

6. I get time to train grip.

7. Pavel is extremely smart. I think he has managed to present weekly periodization in a way that I can actually follow without getting bored and pushing too hard. I also suspect there are aspects of his program design I do not understand that will enlighten me as I work through the program.

8. I can easily do it inside in the basement if the garage is too cold. Worst case, there is an old dip / chin stand at my parents house I am sure they would let me borrow / have.

9. I don't have to squat but I think it will help my squat. I hate squatting

I am looking forward to this program. The cycle will extend as long as it gives me progress. I suspect the duration will be 1-2 months, but who knows. After that, I am thinking about the program from Practical Programming for deep winter, and then another running cycle for spring.


Little Further

Feeling good this morning with plenty of time, I decided to switch up my run in two ways.

First, I got out the new pair of shoes that has been sitting in my closet and laced them up. My left ankle has started feeling weak as I run. Correspondingly, my right knee has started aching. I was attributing this to my hip imbalance, but thought I'd see what the shoes do for me. After just one run, my ankle and knee feel better. I think the outer part of the left toe box had broken down. That was letting my left foot roll to the side with each step, which I believe caused the problem. I'll see how the next few runs go to be sure.

Second, I went a little further. The biggest secret to increasing the distance you can run is to add it slowly over time. Last run I added 2 blocks, this run I added 3 or 4 more. I didn't push my speed, but just took the time to go further. This will pay off in greater speed over distance long term. The run was kept under an hour, which is my primary limit.

This morning I weighed in at 189, which means I am holding steady for the week. That is all I was shooting for with everyone sick, so I am happy. Weeks like this are why my progress needs to be targeted at a rate of 1.5lbs a week in order to finish the race to Gripmas with Mike. I'll return to normal next week and expect a rebound effect from the higher calorie week that will have me at 187 sometime next weekend.

I also walked 4.5 miles today to go see a movie and eat at Subway.


Friday, October 5, 2007

Videos


I broke out my snatch test numbers for analysis.  I know I failed to follow certain aspects of the test rules, such as not lowering the kettlebell to my shoulder.  That will improve with time.  I am not recounting for now.


24k Snatch Test
80 Reps in 10 Minutes
10-04-2007


Set 1
10L / 10R
Work 0:06-1:23 (77 sec)
Rest 38s


Set 2
10L / 10R
Work 2:01-3:21 (80 sec)
Rest 62s


Set 3
5L / 5R
Work 4:23-5:12 (49 sec)
Rest 40s


Set 4
5L / 5R
Work 5:52-6:38 (46 sec)
Rest 86s


Set 5
5L / 5R
Work 8:04-8:52 (48 sec)
Rest 20s


Set 6
5L / 5R
Work 9:12-9:56 (44 sec)
Rest 4s

Overall

Work: 5:44
Rest: 4:26
57% Work Effort
8 Reps per Minute
14 Reps per Work Minute


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Success

I pushed off training with the weights an extra day, then pushed it even further to this evening.  With so many people around me sick, I have been focused on my sleep and rest more than anything.  So far, so good.  I have avoided catching the sickness.  My wife is past the peak of it, so I may get through things unscathed.

Today when it was time to lift, I had one goal in mind.  I wanted to hit my 3/4 body weight push press.  I ate well this week due to everyone being sick.  I had plenty of rest.  My last workout I practiced tension techniques and made some improvements in my form.  Today was a good day for a goal attempt.

The workout went down like this:

Leave work early and bike home
Push Press: 3x45, 3x95, 1x115, 1x135, 1x145 (Ties PR, BW 191 - hits 3/4 bodyweight push press goal)
KB Press: 1/1x16k, 1/1x20k, 2x1/1x24k; Fail / Fail x 28k (push press instead)
60lb Dumbbell: Fail to Press it each arm; Push Press it each arm
10 Minute Snatch Test with 24k Kettlebell: 80 reps (10/10, 10/10, 5/5, 5/5, 5/5, 5/5) PR
Walk around block to cool down

I am very pleased to have hit the push press.  It has been a long time since I knocked a goal off.  I was in no mood for the regularly scheduled workout after that, so I did a snatch test.  All my lifts today were caught on video.  I will process them at some point this weekend.  I took good things away from doing this:

1. Pavel's tension techniques make a big difference on a max effort push press

2. I am weak coming off the shoulder in a normal press

3. My pulling is way ahead of my pushing

4. I need to start pulling my right arm into the movement when I snatch with my left arm.  I swing my left arm when snatching righty and the reps are much easier.  For some reason I don't do it the other way.

5. I need to focus on controlling the weight more during the ascent and descent.  In the video, I am heaving it, with energy leaks all over the place.

6. My skin held up great.  I think the tearing problems I was having resulted from snatching too frequently.  The skin under my fingers seems to blister a bit when I am done.  I think these blisters create weak points that then tear if not allowed to recover.

The session went very well.  Not only that, I am starting to look like I might lift weights.  Pretty cool.


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Taking it Easy

My wife, both parents, and a coworker are all sick right now.  As a result, I am taking things easy.  So far so good - I feel great.  This morning's run to the North Trail Head was extended by 2 blocks, but I ran slowly.  I also slept in an extra hour this morning.

I will stretch tonight.  I will lift weights tomorrow morning, provided I am well rested.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Strength

Today was a scheduled strength workout, and for once I felt good.  The day started with a healthy breakfast, a free haircut from my wonderful wife, lunch and a movie with my dad, and some time playing video games.

When I went into the gym at 4pm, I was ready to lift.  I did:


KB Front Squats: 5 x BW, 12k, 20k, 16k's, 20k's, 16k's, 20k's
DO Axle Deads from Knees: 3 x 73, 143, 193, 193, 193, 193
Overhead Press: 5 x 45, 65; 3x95
Push Press: 3 x 105, 115, 115; 1 x 125, 135
Renegade Rows: 5/5 x 20k, 20k, 20k
Bike 3.5 miles (Needed an ice cream)
Practice Pistols: Singles off of boxes from 18" to 14"


Nothing of note on the squats.  My posterior chain suffered the most from over working the last two weeks, so I varied the deadlifts to take it easier on myself.  The overhead presses I felt weak on, so I decided to switch them up with some extra push presses.  Those went better than expected.  I had to try 135 twice, but with some focus I got it up.


The renegade rows suffered from my extra time on the overhead work.  I was annoyed at that and decided to take a break.  All day I'd been wanting ice cream, so I biked to the gas station, got some, and biked back.  It was fun to be on the bike with nothing but my helmet, my lock, and $5.  A key for the lock would have been nice, but I forgot it.


After I got home, I played around with the pistol variations.  There was marked improvement in my ability to get off the boxes since my last workout.  Between the 6" ledge in my garage, the 8" cases of water, the 3/4" stall matts, and the 1" 45lb plates, I am able to make platforms of most heights.  I will work my way down inch by inch over the coming weeks.  At this point, I do not think what I lack is strength.  I think I lack the stability and practice applying my strength in the bottom position of the movement.  We'll see how it goes.


I am feeling confident about my training plan again.


Planning Effectiveness

At some point after college, I fell out of the habit of planning for effectiveness on a daily and monthly basis.  I am not really sure when it happened.  I think it was around a year after graduating.  Without external schedules of full time college, half time work, recreation, and a long distance relationship forcing it, I let the advantage slip away.  There is really no reason for it other than sheer laziness.  Planning of this nature is a proven tool for getting more out of each day.  Rachel knew this as far back as high school.  Looking to when she used the planner in high school and college, that too was when the volume of what needed to get done was so large there were no other options.


I suppose part of the reason I stopped doing it was the result of reading the Effective Executive and the 80/20 principle.  I learned that there are a few keys tasks I complete each day the generate most of my success for the day.  The corollary to that was my laziness kicked and I realized I could get what I want with limited effort, so why work harder?


I think there is another reason planning fell out of favor with me.  Previously though I was taking the right actions, I was chasing the wrong goal.  I thought my reward for all the planning was long term success.  I savored the thought of greatness, measured through financial well being.  Once I achieved that, I was confused and did not know what to work towards.


What I am beginning to find is that success doing things is its own reward.  You can account for all the major factors for success in a few hours per day, but with nothing worthwhile to fill the rest of that time, the low value use of the remainder becomes detrimental to mood and attitude.  Laziness, sadly, is not its own reward.  I really wanted Office Space to be right ("Nothing, I'd do nothing"), but it is wrong.


An idle mind festers, gradually decaying.  Without occupation, detrimental thoughts build to fill the idle time.  Eventually they create enough overhead that the few hours a day that are needed for success are paired with another 12 hours a day of garbage thoughts.  These thoughts need to be purged, as they burden every task one does.  They also inhibit mood.


Looking to the more successful, happy people I've known, they all plan their time on a regular basis. I think this is a two fold tonic.  First it ensures the person is getting quality out of their time.  It is not a case of doing more with each day for the sake of accomplishing as much possible to reap rewards.  Rather, it is a case of making the most of each hour of the day, planning to enjoy the rewards of time well spent.  Either way the destination can be reached, but planning makes for a better journey.


The other benefit of the planning is it provides a set period of each day where the overhead, detrimental thoughts can be purged from the mind, either for corrective action at a later period in time, or simply to a piece of paper so they can be forgot about.  This is a tremendous, overlooked value of planning.  Who wants to think about negative things all day?  Not me.


It is time for me to resume maintenance of a day planner.  While I have a PDA, I do not think that is the solution.  The purpose of doing this is to simplify and focus my life.  Adding an electronic device that needs to be charged and maintained does not do that.  Instead, I will get a simple paper day planner.  While in college I had a small Franklin Covey binder that worked very well.  Their planning system was effective, and it is an easy way for me to resume doing this.  However, I'm not sure what I can get today, so it may be a longer term solution.  Either way, at some point today I will get a day planner and start using it.


Subsequently, each morning when I get up and each evening when I leave work, I will update my day to day plan.  I suspect that from that, making time to do the monthly and yearly planning will evolve.  If not, ultimately I will schedule this.


It is very hard for me not to view this as creating work for myself.  I know a little planning actually makes my life much easier, but for so long I have been focused on doing as little as possible to enjoy each minute.  I now know that is not the trick though.  I have the most fun and am the happiest when I am working towards goals.  I enjoy the small daily successes that come with full use of my time.  It is who I am, and I need to act on that knowledge.