Friday, November 30, 2007


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

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 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.

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. 

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


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.