Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Full Body

This afternoon I kicked off my vacation with some Family Guy and an hour lifting weights:

Warm Up - 12k Kettlebell
Deadlifts - 8 x 135lbs; 5 x 183, 183, 183, 183
Front Squats - 8 x 20k, 63lbs, 40k, 40k, 40k
Bottoms Up Kettlebell Press - 7/7 x 16k, 16k, 16k
Grippers - 8/8 x T, 5/5 x #1

I felt a little drained from the workout two days ago. I'd like to make an A / B scheme work, training every second or third day.

I made it through the short work week without eating out and expect to hit my initial goal of 2 weeks without eating out on Sunday. I see no reason not to continue the trend. I have more time at work, am saving money, and have more energy at the end of the day.

Hopefully this weekend I will get my power rack into the basement. The area I am lifting in right now is graded towards a drain, so I have to choose between my toes or heels being higher on each set. I'd prefer to lift on a level surface.

Monday, December 29, 2008


After a full day at the office with no eating out, I came home and did this:

Warm Up - 12k Kettlebell
Kettlebell Snatches - 8/8 x 16k, 20k, 24k, 24k; 5/5 x 24k
Split Squats - 8/8 x BW, 12k, 12k, BW
Renegade Rows - 8/8 x 16k, 16k, 16k
Grippers - Reps on the Trainer, #1, and BBSA
Ten deadlifts of a 25lb block weight, five per hand

The hardest part of my day was choosing not to eat out - it dramatically changes how I invest in relationships with the people at work. I like them, so refusing an hour (or more) having fun getting lunch is tough. I think my overall productivity will improve though, along with the obvious health and financial benefits. Maybe I can start a trend

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Breaking the Addiction

This evening I setup my basement gym while streaming Netflix. As I found myself discretely stowing piece after piece of grip equipment, I couldn't help but laugh. It's only a matter of time before the affliction weakens further and my precious bounty is shipped off to some other distracted grip geek.

As it stands now, my active grip training arsenal is comprised of the following toys:

Torsion Spring Grippers (T, #1, BBSA, BBM, Easy #2, Hard #2)
Block Weights (25, 30, 35, 40)
Sledge Hammers (6, 8)
Two 2" Dexterity Balls
Ironmind Extensor Bands

Funny how after all this time, I return to the basics for hand strength. The equipment stowed:

60lb Dumbbell
Pinch Barbell with collars
2" Vertical Bar
1" Vertical Bar
Titans Telegraph Key Replica
2.5" Dumbbell with collars
25lbs+ of bending stock
Four pairs of bending wraps
40 Decks of Cards
Two 35lb Plates
Four Pony Clamps
Gripper accessories - strap hold setup, little washers, big washers, chokers, coc card, etc
An unopened Sentry Tuff cloth
Three 1.25" Dexterity Balls
2.5" Rolling Handle
2 Loading PIns
Vice Gripper

To any sane person, the list appears absurd. Heavy is the burden I must bear...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dew Point

In the past week, the weather has gone from below zero, to heavy snow, to over 50 degrees and raining. Today's warm weather with heavy fog made everything metal in my garage sweat...

I spent the day wiping off equipment and carrying it downstairs. 650lbs of iron later, I am tired and the basement is a mess.

I have decided to keep the power rack but still need to bring it inside. The tool is versatile enough to justify the space requirements. I did decide to part with an old olympic barbell, olympic dumbbells, spikes, horseshoes, two Chicago phone books, a weight attachment for a lifting belt, and a 10lb sledge hammer head. I am still debating on the 35lb plates and duffel I planned to make a sandbag with.

I realize now that I became a collector of strength training equipment. I am not sure when it happened, but the volume of metal accumulated was excessive. My identity has been tied up in the fact that I lift weights, which lead to me view each new purchase as a personal improvement. Recognizing this indicates my priorities have shifted. I want lifting to be something I do, not how I define who I am.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Full Body

Fear of soreness due to infrequent training drove this one more than anything:

Warm up with 12k Kettlebell
Deadlifts - 8 x 60k, 183lbs, 183lbs, 183lbs
Front Squats - 8 x BW, 20k, 65lbs; 5 x 40k, 40k, 40k
Bottoms Up Kettlebell Press - 5/5 x 16k, 16k, 16k
Set of 5/5 deadlifts with 25lb block weight
Reps on grippers - Trainer, #1, #1

I need to step up my mobility and stability work, regardless of overall training frequency. I can feel my torso wanting to rotate during deadlifts and front squats, which is a clear indicator my hip imbalance is returning. Presses were down, due to not pressing. Grip work is doing just fine.

Over the course of this week, I have made significant progress on the nutritional front. Last Sunday I made the decision to cease eating out during lunch at work, as well as to take a two week break from eating out all together. So far I am 5 days in and feeling pretty good about it.  Being on vacation helps, but even when working, going out to eat is a huge time and money sink.

Part of what motivates this change is my yearly budget review. If I really tighten my finances down, I have the ability to pay my mortgage off in 5-7 years, which at 32-34 would have me with minimal living expenses. The world of freedom that opens is enticing, and I'm going to use that to create the intrinsic motivation needed to rebalance my lifestyle.

I shipped off a bunch of equipment to guys on the Gripboard today. I derive satisfaction from getting the things I am not using out of my home. I also like to think a deal on a new piece of equipment makes someone else happy. The effort I'd originally planned to finish going through my home gym has not happened over vacation. I have no reason to rush it, but I will be happy once everything is pared down to the essentials.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lower at Home

This morning I opted for a lower only workout in the basement:

Warm Up - 12k Kettlebell
Deadlifts - 8 x 60k; 5 x 183lbs, 183lbs, 183lbs, 183lbs
Front Squats - 8 x 20k, 6 x 65lbs, 65lbs, 5 x 40k, 40k

Kettlebell Circuit (60s on, 30s off):
24k Two Arm Swings
16k One Arm Cleans
BW Split Squats
24k Two Arm Swings
12k Quarter Overhead Squats

The session was pretty good, though I can tell there was a week since my last one. I may do an upper workout tomorrow morning.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Light Cardio

This morning I moved most of my remaining plates and weight tree into the basement. It was work.

Last night I posted some grip items I do not need for sale on the gripboard. That's the remainder of my redundant equipment. Now I am revisiting what I actually use to train. Rather than pack the basement full of metal, I am only bringing stuff down as I use it.  I'd guess 60-70% of my training equipment remains in the garage right now.

I keep debating on whether or not to bring the power rack. It's a huge pain to move. The only exercise I can't do without it is back squats, which I rarely do anyway. My parents are dropping off a dip / chin stand they wanted to get rid of this weekend, so I could use that for chins, dips, and leg raises - if needed. Given my upper trap dominance, touchy shoulders, and inclination towards unilateral exercises, even that may be overkill.

Most of this stems from a revised perspective on training - use the minimum tools necessary to get the job done. There's no need to limit myself for the sake of using less, but I am very prone to distraction. Considering where my training is at, things like chains, special barbells, and odd feats of strength just take away from long term success.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I got home a little late this evening, but we had a round of layoffs at work and I drove home in several inches of snow, so there was some tension to release.

Warm Up - 12k Kettlebell Swings, Presses, Snatches
Deadlifts - 8 x 60k, 80k, 80k, 80k
KB Squats - 8 x BW, 16k, 24k, 32k, 40k, 40k, 40k
Renegade Rows - 8/8 x 16k; 6/6 x 20k, 20k
Grippers - 10/10 x T; 8/8 x #1, #1, #1
Single Arm Curls - 7/7 x 12k, 12k
Tricep Presses - 8 x 12k, 12k

Overall it was a fine session - my wife and I watched a movie on Netflix while I trained. The streaming movies feature is awesome, totally worth nine bucks a month. My energy levels feel pretty good right now too.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Little Dizzy

I am still struggling with making my workouts. I need to figure it out, but at least today I got something in:

Warm Up with 12k Kettlebell
KB Snatches: 8/8 x 16k, 20k, 24k, 24k
Split Squats: 8/8 x BW, 12k, 12k
Bottoms Up Press: 8/8 x 16k, 16k
Grippers - Reps with Trainer and #1

I skipped renegade rows due to getting rather dizzy during the split squats and presses. I jumped the snatches up pretty quickly and my conditioning is not really there for it. The 24k bell just feels far more comfortable due to a narrower handle than my 20k one.

It looks like I'll be parting with my 40k kettlebell tomorrow morning for a mere $100. I guess it is a good lesson in the economy of buying only what I need. My 8 45lb plates are still up for sale, who knows how low I'll have to go to move them. Once this stuff is gone, I've got a pile of grip tools to move on the gripboard. I hope to have my gym fully consolidated and in the basement by year end.

I bought my first car today. Even though I've been driving it for the past 6 months, owning it feels different.

Some kettlbell infomercial came out and is advertising online, on my blog of all places! The product is terrible, but the video is entertaining and the ad pays well when someone clicks it. Not sure what to do next? Clicky clicky...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Basement Deadlifts

I did this one while streaming a movie via Netflix - I might have to keep it after the free trial is up.

Deadlifts - 8 x 155, 165, 175, 175, 175
Squats - 8 x BW, 16k, 24k, 32k, 32k, 32k
Bottoms Up Press - 5/5 x 16k; 6/6 x 16k, 16k, 16k
Grippers - Some reps with the Trainer and #1

Overall a fine workout. My strength is slowly coming back.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ill Effects

I went to train this evening, but was hit with stomach cramps after warming up. I believe poor food choices are the primary cause. Actually thinking about it, in the last 48 hours I've eaten an unreasonable amount of junk:

Dinner Saturday - Pizza Hut
Lunch Sunday - Barnellis
Dinner Sunday - Bowling Alley Nachos
Lunch Today - Fuddruckers

Anyway, I need to clean things up and get on with it. I did stretch yesterday. I'll train tomorrow.

I might have a buyer for the 8 45lb plates. We'll see if it pans out tomorrow evening.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Saturday Session

I did this one while watching Bigger, Stronger, Faster. It's an interesting movie.

Warm Up - 12k Kettlebell Swings, Snatches, Presses
KB Snatches - 8/8 x 16k, 20k, 20k, 20k
Split Squats - 8/8 x BW, 12k, 12k
Bottoms Up Press - 5/5 x 16k, 16k, 16k
Renegade Rows - 8/8 x 16k, 16k
Grippers - Reps with the Trainer and #1

Moving my weights into the basement has inspired me to pare things down. I put 600lbs of assorted weights on Craigs List this morning. Hopefully it sells fast. Unless my deadlift magically jumps over 450lbs, I'll never miss them.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Light Deadlifts

This evening I finally brought my barbell down to the basement:

Warm Up with 12k Kettlebell
Deadlifts - 8 x 50k, 70k, 70k, 70k
Squats - 8 x BW, 12k, 20k, 24k, 24k, 24k
Renegade Rows - 8/8 x 16k, 16k, 16k
Grippers - #T and #1

The deadlifts and squats were tiring. It is annoying how much ground I have lost. On the bright side, I should get it back quickly. I did stretch and do soft tissue work yesterday. My rows are much better for it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Slow Ramp Up

Saturday I did soft tissue work and stretched. Sunday I rested. Today I trained:

Warm Up - Swings, Snatches, Presses with 12k Kettlebell
Kettlebell Snatches - 8/8 x 16k, 20k, 20k
Bottoms Up Presses - 5/5 x 16k, 16k, 16k
Split Squats - 8/8 x BW, BW, BW
Carry 110k in plates down to the basement
Light Grippers

I felt like I could do more, but I decided to hold back. Today at work we had a group meeting with around 2 dozen people. I would guess a third of them had some sort of cold. I made a point to leave on time and have been attending to my recovery well, so hopefully I will dodge this one.

I drove in the snow for the first time today. It is not fun.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Today I wanted to keep the streak of every other day sessions alive, but needed a little variation:

Warm up with 12k Kettlebell
Front Squats - 8 x BW, 12k, 16k, 24k, 24k
Renegade Rows - 8/8 x 16k, 16k
Double Clean - 5 x 16k's
Double Clean and Press - 5 x 16k's, 16k's, 16k's
Windmills - 5/5 x BW

Nothing extreme this evening, my body still needs to return to alignment. I spent around 45 minutes stretching last night. Today my shoulder stability showed definite progress. I am way, way out of shape though.

This weekend has been productive for removing the burden of excessive possessions. Yesterday I sold 14 boxes of old clothes. Today I shipped off a few things that sold online and unloaded a car full of stuff to the Amvets trailer at Walmart. Just moments ago, someone hauled off the last remaining item - an old exercise bike I tagged with "Free" and stuck at the end of the driveway. It takes more effort to see my unwanted things are reused instead of thrown away, but I really gain satisfaction from doing so.

My life continues to simplify, and my training is better for it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's a Long Road

This evening I lifted again. The following was done:

Warm Up - 12k Swings, Presses, Snatches
KB Snatch - 8/8 x 16k, 16k, 16k
Bottoms Up KB Press - 4/4 x 16k, 16k, 16k
Split Squat - 8/8 x BW, BW, BW
One Arm Row - 8/8 x 16k
One Arm Curl - 5/5 x 12k, 12k
Overhead Tricep Extensions - 5 x 12k, 12k

My joints are out of alignment and the skin on my hands is tender, so nothing heavy yet. I was surprised how quickly I hit my conditioning barrier on the snatches and split squats. My shoulders are clicking on rows, so I cut those short. I need to start stretching regularly again.

The weights in the basement are working very well. The most important aspect - the new computer is down here. The wife will come downstairs and talk to me while she uses the internet. We spend around an hour chatting every evening, so this is a great way for us to multi-task.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Little More

This evening I repeated Saturday's session, albeit with a few more sets and a 16k kettlebell. The decision to ease back in slowly was a smart one, as I found myself with sore hamstrings yesterday. I'll train again on Wednesday.

My food choices have been fairly poor since Saturday. I am not one to pass up the opportunity for deep dish pizza, nor skip out on the Indian buffet we went to for lunch today. "All you can eat" is a challenge I cannot ignore.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Slow Return

I finally did a bit of lifting this afternoon - one set of each of the following:

12k Swings
12k Snatches
12k Bottoms Up Presses
Split Squats
BW Squats

Things are creaky, to say the least.

I have given up on training in the garage. Last year when I was walking to and from work in the cold, I could barely find it in myself to lift outside. The creature comforts with my new job change that balance. I get home and have zero inclination to invest time in an unheated room. My weights started their migration into the basement this afternoon.

Over the past three weeks my knee has healed up. I've also aligned other pieces of my life. Computing has made the leap from a 5 year old laptop to a new desktop with a RAID array and 22" flat screen monitor. I spent quite a bit of time sorting my possessions and filtering out those things I no longer need. Home life has become simpler, with fewer obligations or time sinks.

For the most part, I have solved my nutrition problem, since peaking at a high weight of 169. Two lifestyle changes have helped:

1. I accept the fact that I will eat the free food at work. It is now planned into my meals and grocery shopping.
2. With the tightening economy, I am aggressively saving to paying off our 2nd mortgage, eliminating most meals out.

My build is quickly returning to normal with these changes in place. A little training will have me back at a fit 160 by years end.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Stabilization Training

This morning I stretched and did soft tissue work. This evening I lifted:

Warm Up - 12/12 x 12k One Arm Swings
Deadlift - 5 x 50k, 70k, 80k, 80k
One Arm Press - 10/10 x 12k
Bottoms Up Press - 8/8 x 12k, 3/3 x 16k, 16k
Split Squat - 5/5 x BW, 8/8 x BW
Knee Raises - 8

Mobility is returning and my knee appears to be recovering. My nutrition remains poor. I am managing to leave work on time and take lunch - stress levels are much reduced as a result.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Seeking Alignment

Over the past week I succeeded in my primary goal of reducing work related stress. My high pressure project is finishing up. On new projects, I am accounting for work / life balance when committing to estimates. I did not improve my nutrition - quite the opposite in fact. My habit of eating out every day is alive and strong. Ah well.

I did gain the motivation to train a little today. Unfortunately, it came from tweaking my knee while bowling yesterday. The misalignment that has accumulated from three weeks of little to no training coupled with lots of sitting did not fit well with heaving a bowling ball. I don't think any lasting damage is present, but I am being cautious. I also picked up a used book on bowling and will refine my movements.

Yesterday afternoon I did some light kettlebell swings and sumo deadlifts. Today I did some moderate weight deadlifts, light front squats, walks with a kettlebell overhead, and a set of knee raises. In the morning I also spent 45 minutes doing soft tissue work and stretching. The airex balance pad I got earlier this week is awesome for kneeling stretches.

I will spend this week attending to my body's need for alignment. Until my knee feels better, I am sure my motivation will be fine. Following recovery, I am not sure where things are headed. My biggest motivator for training was the frustration I felt in my old job. Lacking a sufficient channel for professional achievement or peering, I used the weights to create purpose.

The growth that came first with unemployment, and then with my new job, has changed things. I am invested in my career, on a path I find highly engaging. Going home on time is hard because I like what I am doing and enjoy the time spent working. Without that professional discontent, I am not sure where the drive to train comes from.

This is a good problem to have, but I would like the answer as well

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Week in Denver

I spent last week in Denver for project management training. Between the convention and time spent with my wife, exercise was out. Given the slight cold I arrived with, I did not even try to hit the gym. I am sure the thin air would have made things difficult. I did walk several miles each day, though that was balanced by eating out every single meal, including 2 snacks a day. The convention center fed us quite well.

I expected to return to the weights early this week, but my wife now has the flu. Training continues to take a back seat to staying healthy. I am focused on transitioning back to a standard, low stress work week. I managed to both take lunch and leave on time today and yesterday. I need to keep that pattern up. Trying too hard was stressing me out and tanking my immune system.

My original plan upon returning was to eliminate all refined grains from my diet. That has not panned out. There's no excuse, just a lack of motivation. It's fun to snack on cookies after lunch and none of my current lifestyle priorities rely on not eating them. My weight has bumped back up to the mid-160's, but the only impact is on my training goals.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Down Week

I have done zero training since Sunday. Monday morning I woke up with a slight cold that has persisted. Past experience shows if I try training through something like this, I just get really sick. Next week I have once a year job training that I would prefer to be healthy for. It will be a full week.

Following that, I am going to focus on patterns that keep me healthy and training. The penalty for one heavy day of activity like last Sunday should not be a cold. That is an indicator that I am allowing other areas of my life to generate an unwarranted amount of stress.

Initially I am going to make a point to stop working through lunch and start leaving work on time. I am also going to remove refined grains from the menu, whether eating out or at home. My daily consumption of processed food needs to return to once a week at most.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Weekend Warrior

Today I stretched, trained full body, went for a 5 mile walk, and will attend bowling in the evening. My training session broke out like this:

Warm Up - 12/12 x 12k One Arm Swings; 5/5 x 16k Kettlebell Snatches
1.5" Deficit Deadlifts - 5 x 60k, 70k, 80k, 80k, 80k, 80k
One Arm Press - 8/8 x 12k, 16k, 16k
Front Squats to Box - 5 x BW, 20k, 40k, 50k, 50k
Renegade Rows - 5/5 x 16k, 16k, 16k

Overall I found my endurance lacking. Rest time between sets stretched to several minutes on the bigger exercises. I suppose this was a result of accumulated fatigue from yesterday's bike ride coupled with my limited training as of late. I do think my choice of exercises was appropriate.

I am still working on a good training strategy for the work week. The yoga studio I was considering is out of business.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bike Ride

Today I biked 15 miles and played with my unicycle a little bit. I am still struggling to balance on it with support, let alone get anywhere. Wednesday I trimmed the seat post down, Thursday I also played with it for awhile.

I missed having any weight sessions during the latter half of this week. At work we had 4 demos in 5 days and they tired me out. The solution for busy days may be morning training in my garage, but given that I start work at 8am, that would require me to get up between 5 and 5:30. I am not eager to do so.

I'll put in a full body session tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Upper at Home

Another quick one tonight:

Warm Up - 12/12 x 12k Swings
Snatches - 5/5 x 16k, 20k, 24k, 24k, 24k
Overhead Press - 5 x 20k, 30k, 40k; 3 x 40k, 40k, 40k
Renegade Rows - 5/5 x 16k, 16k
Dynamic Pinch - 5, 5, 5

Overall my session was lame. I had to pull back on the snatches due to skin that threatened to tear. The set of 5 with 40k on overhead press drained me for the others. I also felt like I was using my upper traps to help press, instead of the lower traps. On renegade rows my left elbow felt unstable, causing me to skip the last two sets. I was also weak on the dynamic pinch.

Waiting to start lifting until 7:30 did not help me, nor did being at work until 8pm last night. I am having fun, but things are out of balance. Our current project goes live this month. I am going to make a point to get on a more reasonable schedule following that deployment.

My gym membership expires this month. There is a yoga studio a few miles from my house, on the way to work. As I have been failling to attend to active recovery, I may give it a shot. I'll need to check pricing and class times.

I need to clear the equipment I don't use out of my gym. I wish selling it wasn't such a hassle.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Lower at Home

One of the best hours in my Sunday:

Deadlifts - 5 x 20k, 60k, 80k, 90k, 90k, 90k
Box Squats - 5 x BW, 20k, 28k, 36k, 40k, 40k, 40k
Grippers - 5/5 x T, #1, #1; 10/7 x #1
Knee Raises - 5, 6, 7

I continue to avoid wiping myself out in any single session. My strength is coming back, I am staying healthy, and I am not missing workouts. While I may not hit all the exercises I'd like to have done, I'd say this approach is appropriate for now.

I need to work on my food choices, however. Yesterday I ate out breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Today I ate out breakfast and lunch, though my choices were healthier than yesterday. The $150-200 a month it costs me to eat out whenever I want fails to provide sufficient financial disincentive these days. I lack a motivating reason to change my patterns.

Today I got the pipe cutter for my unicycle. I expect to play around with it sometime this week. I also scored two bowling balls with bags at play it again sports. For $3 a ball, I'll choose between them at the bowling alley.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Bike Ride

Today I biked 14 miles, to and from work... I got free lunch and had fun, but sure wish our project was done!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Upper at Home

Yesterday I walked for an hour. Today I did the following:

Kettlebell Snatches - 5/5 x 16k, 20k, 24k, 24k
Overhead Presses - 5 x 20k, 30k; 4 x 40k; 3 x 40k, 40k, 40k
Renegade Rows - 5/5 x 16k, 16k, 16k, 16k

I took it relatively easy since I have a 14 mile bike ride planned for tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Lower at Home

Last night I went for an hour walk with my wife. This evening I did a brief lower body workout:

Warm Up - Walk around sub-division
Deadlifts - 5 x 20k, 60k, 83k, 83k, 83k, 83k
Box Squats - 5 x BW, 16k, 24k, 32k, 32k, 32k, 32k
Grippers - 5/5 x T, #1, #1, #1, #1
Knee Raises - 8, 8

I am dragging due to poor quality sleep. The last three nights I've slipped into bed right on time for 8 hours of sleep - unfortunately I do not fall asleep instantly. Maybe if I get tired enough...

The project that entered crunch mode at work has continued to keep me busy. It turns out I can squeeze an hour of work in after I shower and before bed if necessary. I'm not terribly fond of the extra time, but the end is in sight and a quality product will go out the door. Those two factors make a huge difference.

Tomorrow I'll go for a run, Friday an upper session at home. My breakfast and dinner have been quality this week. Lunch still requires improvement. I did limit today's deep dish pizza to one slice and had some of the salad.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Upper at Home

I made a point to leave work on time and get home for today's training session. Even the abbreviated workout with what I consider light weights was challenging. I think I underestimated the ground lost while I was sick.

Today I did the  following:

Warm Up - 12/12 Swings x 12k
Kettlebell Snatches - 5/5 x 16k, 20k, 24k
Overhead Press - 5 x 20k; 3/3 x 40k, 40k, 40k, 40k
Turkish Get Ups - 3/3 x 12k, 16k, 16k
Renegade Rows - 5/5 x 16k, 16k, 16k
Knee Raises - 8, 5

I am shocked at how hard the snatches were. I stopped with one set with the 24k, since even with the sock on my hand I was afraid of skin tears. Everything is down, but at least it should be easy to bring back up.

My nutrition was a little better today. I ate all of the foods I am supposed to for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This included two protein shakes. I also had a scone from Starbucks and a bag of Doritos, but all those calories are doing is keeping me out of a deficit. The junk also curbed my desire for a meal out.

I'll may go for a run or do a lower body workout tomorrow. It depends how I feel. Recovery first.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Moderate Run

Today I went for a 3 mile run at a moderate pace, followed by 20 minutes of stretching and foam roller work. My original intention was to include an upper body weights workout between the two, but I was tired.

I could have forced it, but I am choosing to train under the assumption I have impaired ability to recover. The upper body workout will be tomorrow evening instead. Hopefully keeping these easy gets me back on track.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Lower at Home

This weekend I decided to go with a lower / upper split for my weight training. Given the lack of motivation this week, I figured something low volume would be easier to break back into. I need the aggression lifting gives me to find the drive to go lift. It's a vicious cycle

I did the following:

Warm Up - Walk around the sub-division
Deadlifts - 5 x 20k, 60k, 80k, 80k, 80k
Box Squats - 5 x BW, 16k, 24k, 32k, 32k, 32k
Knee Raises - 8, 8, 8
Grippers - 5\5 x T, #1, #1; 1/1 x No Set #1

During the workout, I even caught a tiny little snake. My wife put it in the grass. Deadlifts were interesting, this is the first time I have picked up a weight over body weight in some time. My hands were burning and ached from it. I need to get back into the heavy weights, I think.

On the nutrition front I have been doing ok. My diet still has too much food from eating out, but my patterns do result in holding weight steady at 160lbs. Given all the other aspects of life I am juggling at this time, I am ok with this. I do think a push down to a leaner body composition is due at some point, but my recovery needs to be prepared to accommodate it.

This new netbook computer represents how I would prefer for day to day home computing fit in my life. Boot up something small and quick, hit my websites, send out a few emails, update my blog, and get offline. I should do my work computing at work and only pull out a more powerful machine in the event of professional development at home or some extreme crunch time at work.

So far, however, I have been using it in ADDITION to my other computing. Doh! It's tweaked now though, so things should improve.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New Computer = No Weights

My new computer arrived today. To no surprise, I spent my evening playing with it instead of lifting weights. This things is super tiny, almost to the point of being comical. I can see how the 10" version holds so much appeal for people. I'm not sure I can use it for serious work, but it definitely works for quick web browsing or message boards. Video is a little choppy and I need time to get used to the keyboard. Overall though, for $500, I am happy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Basic Exercise

Yesterday I played DDR for around an hour, setting several new records on Expert level songs. Given that I have not played for several months, I have to attribute my success to the Earth shoes. The negative heel has made my feet much more tolerant of bouncing around on the DDR pad. Awesome.

Today I made a point to leave work at 5, with the intent of running and lifting. I got in from my 3 mile run just in time to meet my wife on her way home. It turns out she had a crummy day at work, so my lifting time went to her instead. A worthy trade off - I'll lift tomorrow.

My nutrition still has large room for improvement. The fact that I did not eat out today or yesterday is an accomplishment, sadly. The microwave does appear to help in a small way. Ultimately I need to refocus to make significant progress on the body composition front. For now, however, I lack motivation.

UPS tracking says my new computer will be delivered to my work tomorrow. I am super excited!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

More Exercise

My available free time continues to be compressed. Yesterday I walked three miles. Today I did the following:

Warm Up - Run 3 Miles
Jump Practice - 5 x Low, Low, Med, Med, Max, Max

KB Box Squats - 5 x BW, 24k, 32k
One Arm Press - 5/5 x 12k, 16k, 20k
Knee Raises - 5, 5, 5
Renegade Rows - 5/5 x 16k, 16k, 16k

This workout was extremely demanding for me to finish, likely due to the energy expended running. My workouts over the next month or so are likely to mirror this style. Work is offering growth opportunities that require me to put a lot in. I enjoy the time spent and am learning daily, but it definitely does not help my training. The running is necessary for my mental health and well being.

This morning I setup the new over the range microwave - on the counter. My wife is going to arrange for installation, eventually... My new MP3 player arrived and is charging now. I picked up a 4GB Sansa Click. A coworkers just got the new iPod touch. It's cool, but I cannot justify $300 for a music player. I did decide to order an Asus Eee PC 901. I expect it will be excellent for traveling and is likely to replace my laptop for daily web browsing.

I may do some grip work tomorrow. I do not anticipate any hard training until Tuesday.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Due to a variety of life events outside the norm, this week has been extremely busy. Today was simply an exercise in doing something. I did:

Warm Up - Run 3 miles
Jumps - 5 x Low, Low, Med, Med, Max, Max

Done in a Circuit
Turkish Get Ups - 3/3 x 12k, 16k, 16k
Deficit Axle Deadlifts - 5 x 63k, 68k, 68k
Hanging Knee Raises - 5, 5, 5 (I got ab slings, they're great.)

Not fancy, but better than nothing. Saturday I expect a full training session.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Poor Training Week

This morning I stretched for 20 minutes. It is the most training I've done since Monday.

I got sick with something that absolutely wrecked me. Wednesday I went home from work at 1pm. That night, my wife said I was shaking the bed so hard with my chills that she couldn't sleep. Thursday I stayed home sick and spent the entire time sleeping. I missed my favorite day of the work week and couldn't even enjoy being home. I ached from so much consecutive time sleeping.

Friday I was back at work, functional but still sick. This weekend has been continued down time. We did order the microwave yesterday evening (online) and have an installation guy to call once it arrives. Over the range microwaves are hardly worth the trouble IMO, but it's what this house requires.

My unicycle came. I put it together, but the seat is too tall for me. I need to figure out the proper way of shortening it without damaging the bike. It will be some time before it fits in my priority list though. I have a lot of catching up to do now that I feel better.

I will pursue some light activity Tuesday. With bowling tonight, I expect an early evening Monday.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Limited Activity

Last night I was wound up from lifting and worked until around 11:15. I'd guess I only got 6.5 hours of sleep.

Today I woke up tired and became achey through the course of the day. Due to my fatigue, I ate poorly while at work - protein shake, granola bar, football sized burrito, chips, and two 3" chocolate chip cookies. Food is a surprisingly good substitute for sleep in the short term. I did at least go for a mile walk in the early evening.

Unfortunately, it has become clear that I am getting sick again. Working with so many new people who have children, it is unclear whether I have any real control over this. My pattern recognition is certainly tingling.

Fortunately I have VPN access setup for work as a result of the prior cold, and construction on my roof is complete. Compared to last time, I am much better equipped to moderate my activity if needed. I know the VPN works, because I used it again this evening for more work. I think my phase of the crunch time is almost complete.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Rainy Day

Today was my first day back to eating normally. By 10am I was extremely hungry. A granola bar helped me make it to noon, but the lunch I brought was not enough. A bag of chips and a cookie later, I barely made it home with energy to lift. I need to get back in the habit of my morning protein shake, as well as get used to less food. The football sized burritos are just more filling.

My training was done around 6pm in the garage. The weather was cool and rainy, just how I like it. I did:

Warm Up - 10/10 x 12k Swings; 5/5 x 16k Snatches
Axle Deadlifts (1.5" Platform): 5 x 63k, 73k, 73k, 73k
One Arm Press : 5/5 x 12k, 16k, 20k, 20k, 16k
Box Squats: 5 x BW, 16k, 24k, 36k, 36k, 36k
Renegade Rows: 5/5 x 16k, 20k, 16k, 16k
Rapid Jumps to 14" Box: 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5

I am intentionally choosing exercises that will limit the weights I can handle. This workout was fun.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Moving Forward

Today I walked around 5 miles. I also ate out quite a bit.

I am making a few changes to my lifestyle, in an effort to kick start progress:

1. The microwave has been broken for the past month. My credit card shows I ate out 18 times in that period, which excludes the 2x a week my work brings in food for us. I think there is a relation and am making a point to get the microwave fixed this week.

2. I am pushing to get back on eating my home food for lunch at work, ideally 3-4x a week. The cottage cheese had gotten boring, so I went to whole foods yesterday and bought 3 weeks worth of Tofurkey slices. This should make another significant impact on my diet.

3. Rather than focus on strength training as my primary source of activity, I am now looking it as a 2-3x a week add on to my goal of daily activity. Walking and running will form a significant component of this general activity, but I may also bike, rollerblade, play DDR, or do some other crazy stuff.

4. I've invested a couple bucks in improving my home gym, since that's where most of my training will take place. I ordered a pair of ab slings to help work my way up to an L-sit. I also ordered - brace for it - a unicycle! I doubt I will be very good at it, but it should be fun to try and help create daily activity. A metal DDR pad is on the short list come Winter.

5. The internet and video games have been eating too much of my valuable time with meaningless activity. As a strong introvert, the social stresses of starting a new job caused me to look for isolated electronic outlets for my free time. Now that I have settled into what appears to be my best job to date, I need to move back to a more balanced lifestyle. Initially, I have shifted video games out as a priority and am reducing my daily internet commitments.

6. Moving forward, I resume my bowling league next week. I'll also have the daily activity to distract me in the evenings and really look forward to training in my home gym again. I have a new book I really enjoy and am making a point to spend time walking outside with my wife.

I suspect these changes will lead to a happier life overall, regardless of the impact on my training.


This evening I finally made time to process videos to go online. Here we go:

08-02-2008 Grip Together
Mike on the Axle -
Steve on the Axle -

Mike and Steve both got some time in on my FBBC axle. The full set of bumper plates looks massive on the bar.

08-09-2008 Test Day
1/3 BW Kettlebell Press -
1/3 BW Double KB Squat -

These lifts are rather anti-climatic. I've hit the valley where I am skinny enough to be small, but not lean enough to be muscular. The weights are usually relatively easy for me, but due to a depleted state I found them challenging. I think they are a testament to the fact that it is time to evolve my training approach.

Fourteen Dollar Kettlebell
2/2 Snatches -

"It has a handle like a kettlebell, I bet I can rack it!" - That's the first thing I thought of when this showed up on my porch. Amusingly, my wife was far more impressed by lifting this than any of my other kettlebell lifts, even the 36k one arm snatch. Go figure.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Competing Priorities

This week was not a good one for training. I went out to eat for most of my meals and got very little sleep while my friend was here. I am glad to have spent the time with him and would not have done anything different, but my training definitely took a step back.

This morning I got back to it:

Warm Up - Run 2.5 miles, 10/10 x 12k Swings
Practice Jumping - 5 x 12", 12", 18", 18", 18", Max, Max, Max
One Arm Press - 5/5 x 12k, 16k, 20k; 3/3 x 20k
Axle Deads from 1.5" Platform - 5 x 63k, 63k, 68k, 68k
$14 Kettlebell - 1/1 x Press, Press, Snatch; 2/2 x Snatch

I have video of the $14 kettlebell snatches that will go up later. It was fun to play.

Running is listed as a warm up, but honestly it drained me. This couple passed me on the way back, and my ego could not handle watching them just run off. I notched up to their faster pace for the last mile of my run. When I finally turned off the path, my sides were cramping and I was struggling to breath, but at least I kept up. I am sure it did not help my lifting.

I am struggling with progress towards either dropping weight or getting stronger. I have decided to stop worrying about strength so much for the next two months. I am going to play around with increasing my activity to the point where I can eat more loosely but burn out the diet. We'll see how it goes. The opposite approach has resulted in my getting sick twice so far this year, so I can't do any worse.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Home Really is Better

This morning I woke up with one goal in mind - hit my workout before my friend gets here. I've got a buddy coming in from Hong Kong, so the next two days will not be for training or eating healthy. With that in mind, I did the following:

Warm Up - 1.5 Mile Run; 10/10 x 12k Swings
Vertical Jump Practice
One Arm Press - 5/5 x 12k, 16k, 20k, 20k
Box Squats - 5 x 16k, 24k, 32k, 32k, 32k, 32k
Renegade Rows - 5/5 x 16k, 20k, 20k
KB L-sits - 10s, 10s, 10s

My strength and endurance are both returning quickly now. This was vastly more fun than training at the gym. I got to run in the forest preserve, do my jumps at the local park, and play with kettlebells barefoot outside. No one disturbed me, and I chose the music. Home lifting rules.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Still Recovering

This afternoon I trained but was tired. I did the following:

Warm Up - 10/10 Swings x 12k
Deadlift - 5 x 50k, 70k, 90k, 90k, 90k
One Arm Press - 5/5 x 12k, 16k; 4/4 x 20k, 20k
Box Squats - 5 x BW, 16k, 24k, 32k, 32k, 32k
Kettlebell Snatches - 5 x 16k, 20k, 24k
Vertical Jumps

The vertical jumps were amusing. There is a park about a block from my house with a swing set. The support bar for the swing set is probably 2.5" diameter and about 14" above the tips of my fingers if I reach as high as I can. I was trying to jump up and grab it so I could climb around and stress my grip. Sadly, I have no hops and can just barely brush the bar with my finger tips. Getting ahold of that thing is a short term goal for me.

While my strength is coming back quickly, my endurance continues to wane. Hopefully it returns without cardio.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Back to Lifting

Today I hit my first training session since getting sick. Nice and light:

Warm Up - 10/10 Swings x 12k
Deadlifts - 5 x 50k, 70k, 80k, 80k, 80k
Kettlebell Press - 5/5 x 12k, 16k, 16k, 16k
Box Squats - 5 x BW, 16k, 24k, 32k, 32k, 32k
Renegade Rows - 5/5 x 16k, 16k, 16k

This took quite a bit out of me, but also felt very good. My mood and appetite have spiked back up to normal levels after just the one workout. Hopefully this lasts through tomorrow.

I plan on training full body, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday for the next few weeks.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Still Sick

My plan for extra rest and accelerated recovery on Wednesday was cut short by CONSTRUCTION ON THE ROOF OF MY TOWNHOUSE!!! Instead of sleeping, I spent my day in the basement hiding from noise. Thursday and Friday I gave up hope of resting during the day and just went to work sick.

Needless to say, I am still not training. As of this afternoon my health is on the upswing, but the earliest I will be lifting is Tuesday. I've been doing my best to eat enough calories and am hovering around 159, but I can visually see the loss of progress. For the past week I've been getting winded while eating, let alone walking across a room.

Hopefully it all comes back quick. I am not looking forward to the soreness that will welcome me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Sunday I went for a four mile walk with my Dad. Towards the end of it my voice was getting extremely hoarse. By Monday morning I could feel a cold coming on, Tuesday at work I was drained, and today I am home sick.

Training while I am sick just prolongs the recovery process, so I will be out of the gym until at least Friday. Hopefully I will be able to do some light lifting by then.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Upper at Home

Another good one at my home gym. I was tired, but it didn't matter:

Warm Up with 12k Kettlebell - 10/10 Swings, 5/5 Presses
Snatches - 5/5 x 16k, 20k, 24k, 24k, 24k
Overhead Press - 5 x 45, 65, 85, 85, 85; 4 x 85
Renegade Rows - 5/5 x 16k, 16k, 16k, 16k
L-sit on Kettlebells - 10s, 10s, 10s
Finger Tip Strengthening

This session is weak compared to what I was doing before I started working again, but felt significantly harder than anything I've done at the 5 Seasons. Training at home motivates me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lower at HOME

I am back to lifting at home in my garage. The 5 Seasons sucks. At $40 bucks a month I'll keep the membership current for bad weather, but no more suffering through a poor training environment morning after morning.

This afternoon I did the following:

Warm Up - It was hot
Deadlifts - 5 x 60k, 80k, 90k, 90k, 90k
Front Squats - 5 x BW, 12k, 20k, 40k, 50k, 50k

My right glute was cramping up pretty hard at this point, so I decided to call it a day. This is where I belong.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Upper at 5 Seasons

Tired today, but I had no intention of working hard:

Warm Up - 5 Minutes Elliptical
Overhead Press - 5 x 45, 65, 85; 4 x 85, 85, 85
Seated Rows - 5 x 70, 90, 110, 110, 90
Pulldowns - 5 x 50, 55, 60, 60
Ab Board - 10 x BW, BW
Doubles and Singles on BBSA between sets
Foam Roller and Stretch

Sunday's weighted walks definitely impacted today's session, as one might expect. I have no complaints.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lower at 5 Seasons

Muscle soreness and low energy levels had me questioning the wisdom of this morning's session. In the end, habits won out:

Warm Up - 5 Minutes Elliptical
Front Squats - 5 x 45, 65, 95, 95, 95
Deadlifts - 5 x 135, 185, 185, 185
Hanging Knee Raises - 5, 5, 5
45 Degree Back Extensions - 8, 8, 8x10lbs
Foam Roller and Stretch

Working weights were intentionally kept light. I have brought the knee raises in to support my attempts at an L-sit. Twice a week for the next two weeks may let me bridge the gap, as I am very weak on these.

Tomorrow I will do an upper workout at a similar level of intensity. I expect to work harder during the latter half of the week.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Grip and Conditioning

This morning I had an hour to train and motivation:

Warm Up on Grippers and Kettlebell Swings
25lb Block Weight Cleans and Deadlifts between sets of walks
6lb Sledge Overhead Levers at 18-20"
6lb Sledge Front Levers at 10-12"

Weighted walks: Out / Back
16k Overhead / 16k Overhead
16k's Racked / 16k's Farmers
20k Overhead / 20k Overhead
20k's Racked / 20k's Farmers
16k Bottoms Up / 16k Bottoms Up
16k's Overhead / 16k's Overhead

Grip. Stability. Conditioning. Today's session was everything the 5 Seasons is not. I enjoyed it.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Test Day

Saturday my body weight hit 158 as planned. I went for my test day:

1. 1/3 BW Kettlebell Press - Got it, but it felt hard
2. 1/3 BW Bottoms Up Press - Missed it many times, irritating
3. 1/3 BW Double Front Squat - Got it for a double, relatively easy
4. 1/2 BW Snatch - Did not test, decided I was too weak today
5. L-sit - Still cannot do one on the floor, can do it on a pair of kettlebells
6. Pistol - Not even close
7. Handstand - I can kick up there, but promptly lose it

In all, I missed 2 out of my 4 planned goals for the day. The press and squat were anti-climatic, as I have been capable of the weights for a long time. The bottoms up press really ticked me off, as that has been relatively easy in the past. I was looking forward to the snatch, but my strength was waaay down today. I had no business trying to put 80lbs overhead.

The body weight exercises were interesting. I am the lightest I have been since winter of 2001, and am down 90lbs from my peak weight. Still, I missed all three goals. I think the L-sit is relatively close and will come with a few weeks of focused training. The pistol seems as far away as ever. I have no idea how long the handstand will take, but suspect it is a practice rather than strength issue.

Overall I am not terribly pleased with the results of my nutritional approach for the last two weeks. I tanked out last week, got extremely sore, missed workouts, and lost a significant amount of strength.  All of that points to insufficient recovery, which makes me think I need to eat more and cut less aggressively. I dropped 4-5lbs and an inch off my waist in the two week time span. More than 1lb per week is excessive for me at this point.

Rather than throw everything out, I am going to tweak the plan. Here's what worked and what needs to change:

1. The core food plan is solid, I just need more of it. I will add a granola bar to my work food and shift the lettuce I usually eat at work to dinner time, where I can add shredded cheese to it. This should net me an extra 400 calories a day.

2. I am going to continue bringing my own food to our twice weekly work lunches, eating only the free salads. We get the same food from the same four places every week. Sure for free food it's great, but I would never go out to lunch for a vegetable sandwich, chips, and a giant cookie. The key here is to remember my food!

3. A gourmet salad (spring mix, berries, nuts, crumbled cheese, roll) with an iced tea costs 8-10 bucks at most places. I had a mental barrier over the price, but have managed to get over it. Doing so allows me to eat out as frequently as I like, without the negatives for my training goals. I'll keep this one long term, I am sure.

4. The exercises I do at the gym lack balance, and the environment sucks. A blend of kettlebells, barbells, and grip work is just better than barbells alone. The integrity of my joints, my conditioning, my posture, and my intensity have all suffered since I started at the 5 Seasons. The obvious solution is to return to training at home, but it would need to be after work, making compliance much harder. I lack an answer, but the problem is noted.

5. I am going to eat out twice per weekend, instead of once.

I plan to test again on 8/23. My goal is to weigh 158 and hit at least 2 of the 5 tests I missed.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Upper at 5 Seasons

This morning I was well rested and my music enabled a high level of
intensity. My lifts were not any heavier, but it is hard to judge
performance given that I am dropping weight. I did the following:

Warm Up: Elliptical for 5 minutes
Overhead Press: 5 x 45, 75; 4 x 95; 3 x 95, 95, 95
Seated Row: 5 x 70, 100, 110, 110, 110
Pulldown: 8 x 50, 8 x 55, 6 x 55, 55
Incline Dumbell Press: 5 x 35, 45, 50
Turkish Get Up: 2/2 x 40
Foam Roller and Stretch

Overall a fine training session. My nutrition is on track as well.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Last night I made the decision to let our foster cat have free run of
the house. Chaos ensued. At midnight I finally gave in and locked her
up. Given the impending lack of sleep, I opted to push my upper workout
another day to Thursday.

Yesterday's training session has me rather sore today. The weights and
reps are nothing new, so it must be a byproduct of my ongoing caloric

Body weight was 160.1 this morning. 158 is the goal for Saturday.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lower at 5 Seasons

This morning I felt more rested going into my training session. I also brought my mp3 player. It helped. The workout went like this:


Warm Up - 5 Minutes on Elliptical
Front Squats - 5 x 45, 65, 95; 4 x 115; 3 x 115, 115, 115
Deadlifts - 5 x 135, 185, 205, 205
High Step Ups - 5/5 x BW, 15, 20, 20
Ab Board - 10 x BW, BW, BW
Foam Roller and Stretch


The music made a huge difference in my intensity levels, though I am struggling with headphone placement on the front squats. I did not intend to go hard on the deadlifts, it just happened.

Monday, August 4, 2008

False Start

This morning I felt run down but went to the gym anyways. It didn't work. I did a 5 minute warm up, hit my 3 warm up sets on front squats, stretched, and called it a day. I'll push today's session to tomorrow.

The training environment at this club in the morning is very poor. I doubt I would have walked away from the workout anywhere else, even in my home gym. I will try bringing my mp3 player tomorrow, to see if it helps.

My nutrition is moving along just fine. Now that I've established a pattern for the work week, holding it is easy.

Remote Blogging Test

If this appears, I'll start posting my workouts in the morning, via email.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Grip Together

Today I had Mike and Steve over for a grip together. My training went like this:

Warm Up - Assorted swings, snatches, and presses with 12k and 16k kettlebells
Plate Curl - Singles through 20lbs
Block Weights - Lots of singles with 27.5 and 30, attempts with 32.5
Axle Deadlift - 1 x 161, 211

It seems like I should have done more, but I guess not. My body weight was 159.2lbs this morning. The nutritional approach I have chosen is working. I expect to test for a few of my goals next Saturday.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Upper at 5 Seasons

Last night I did not sleep well, despite going to bed on time. Fortunately, my training session was not adversely impacted:

Warm Up - Elliptical for 5 Minutes
Overhead Press - 5 x 45, 75; 4 x 95, 95; 3 x 95, 95
Seated Row - 5 x 70, 90, 110, 110, 110
Pulldown - 5 x 50, 55, 55, 55
Incline Dumbbell Press - 5 x 35, 45; 4 x 55; 5 x 50
Turkish Get Ups - 2/2 x 35lbs

Overall a fine session, with a little new territory in the pressing. Given the poor sleep, I was surprised. Even more confusing is the fact that true hunger has now set in from my restricted diet. I expected that to bring an immediate reduction in strength that has yet to appear.

From here on out, I expect to be hungry all the time. It sucks, but I think it will be effective.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lower at 5 Seasons

Yesterday I made a point to get enough sleep. I am slowly getting it under control. This morning's session went ok:


Front Squats: 5 x 45, 65, 95, 95, 95, 95
Deadlifts: 5 x 135, 185; 3 x 205, 205, 205
Single Dumbbell Deadlifts: 5/5 x 50, 60, 70, 70
Side Bends: 8/8 x 75, 75
Foam Roller and Stretch


My back felt a little iffy on the deadlifts, so I opted not to push hard. The dumbbell deadlifts are a new exercise for me, the impact could be interesting. I did side bends on impulse, since there was a 75lb barbell sitting out someone left loaded.


My food is going well. Yesterday and today were essentially the same as Monday. Body weight was 161.3 this morning.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Upper at 5 Seasons

Last night I made a point to turn off the video games by 9pm. I am getting there. Today I opted to keep the weights a little lighter:


Overhead Press: 5 x 45, 65, 85, 85, 85; 4 x 85
Seated Row: 5 x 70, 90, 100, 100, 100
Pulldown: 5 x 50, 50, 50, 50
Ab Board: 10 x BW, BW
Foam Roller and Stretching


I skipped horizontal pressing. My shoulders feel great without it.

My food today was identical to yesterday. It makes tracking easy!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lower at 5 Seasons

This morning I woke before my alarm and felt well rested, but my workout did not reflect it:


Warm Up - 5 Minutes on Elliptical
Front Squats - 5 x 45, 65, 95; 4 x 115, 115, 115; 3 x 115
Deadlifts - 5 x 45, 185, 185, 185
Foam Roller and Stretch


I gassed out early and decided it was best not to push ahead with the accessory work. I am going to experiment with pushing my front squats hard on Mondays, deadlifts on Thursdays. I think taking them both to the limit in the same session twice a week may be holding me back. Interestingly, my glutes were sore from the thick dumbbell deadlifts yesterday. I'll do those again.


I've decided to put in a two week push to get my body weight down under 160. I'll track calories, fiber, and protein. My goal is to eat under 2000 calories, over 25 grams of fiber, and over 125 grams of protein each day. This will require me to forgoe video games and adopt a slightly anti-social eating pattern (limited eating out), but I can accommodate it now.

Today I had 2000 calories, 40 grams of fiber, and 140 grams of protein. The day broke down like this:

Time - Food - Calories.Fiber.Protein

05:30 AM
- Yogurt - 150.1.8
08:00 AM - PB Sandwich and Shake - 600.13.44
10:00 AM - Strawberries - 50.3.1
11:30 AM - Cottage Cheese, Crackers, Carrots - 490.7.33
04:30 PM - Shake - 110.0.24
06:30 PM - Pasta, Broccoli, Cheese - 600.16.30

I won't log the details every day, but I will track a total I may post.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Grip at Home

I continue to choose video games over sleep. That cost me Saturday's stability training. This morning I opted for a grip workout:

Grippers: Reps with #T, #1, and BBSA
2.5" Dumbell: Deadlifts up through 70lbs
Bomb: Singles up through 61lbs
Block Weights: Deadlifts with 25lbs
Play around with plate curls and plate wrist curls

I need to get my sleep under control if I am to progress. I have lost ground on the grip work.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Upper at 5 Seasons

Thanks to my inability to turn off the video games, I was not well prepared for today's session. Running on six hours of sleep, I did the following:

Overhead Press: 5 x 45, 65, 85; 3 x 95, 2x95, 2x95
Seated Row: 5 x 70, 90, 110, 100, 100
Pulldown: 8 x 50, 70, 50, 50
Dumbell Renegade Row: 5/5 x 20lbs
Ab Board: 10 x BW, BW
Foam Roller and Stretch

It's hard to say whether lack of sleep or yesterday's good workout lead to my weakness today. There is always next time. I think the new pulldown machine will be very good for my issue with lower trap activation. The renegade rows with dumbbells were a bust. Too much tension is required to stabilize myself on the round dumbell, opposed effort to actually row the weight.

I'll probably train grip and kettlebells at home tomorrow.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lower at 5 Seasons

Today's session was a good one. Although I did not get enough sleep last night, the rest earlier this week served me well. I did:


Front Squats: 5 x 45, 65, 95; 4 x 115, 115; 3 x 115, 115
Deadlifts: 5 x 135, 185, 205, 205
High Step Ups: 5/5 x BW, 15, 25, 25
Side Bends: 8/8 x 45, 65, 65
45 Degree Back Extensions: 8 x BW, 25lbs
Foam Roller and Stretching


The front squats and deadlifts are as heavy as I've done at this gym.


I gained more insight into the pain that caused me to take it easy earlier this week. I think it is actually my left obliques being irritated by the high step ups. I am going to slow them down, drop the weight, and focus on strict form. Previously I was exploding into the movement. I will also do side bends more frequently to bring up what must be a weak area.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Upper at 5 Seasons

This morning I was well rested, but resisted the temptation to lift full bore. Better to follow my plan and over-recover than to burn out. I did:


Overhead Dumbbell Press: 5 x 30, 30, 30, 30
Pulldowns (new machine): 8 x 50, 50, 50, 50
Seated Rows: 5 x 70, 70, 70, 70
Dumbbell Incline  Press: 5 x 30, 30, 30, 30
Dumbbell Snatch: 5/5 x 20
Bird Dog: 8/8 x BW, BW
Foam roller and stretching


It was all quite easy. The new pulldown machine is much better. Dumbell snatches did not feel good on my right shoulder, so I kept them to one set. I looked around for other equipment to play with, but nothing struck my fancy. I will try renegade rows with the dumbbells in the near future.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Lower at 5 Seasons

Today was scheduled as a down workout. Good thing, because I had a difficult time falling asleep and am extremely tired. The session went like this:

Warm Up - 5 Minutes on Elliptical
Front Squats - 5 x 45, 65, 65, 65, 65
Deadlifts - 5 x 135, 135, 135, 135
Get Up Sit Ups - 8/8 x 20, 20
Seated Calf Raises - 10 x 45, 45
Ab Board - 10, 10
Bird Digs - 8/8 x BW, BW
Single Leg Bridges - 5/5 x BW, BW
Windmills - 5/5 x 5lbs, 5lbs
Assorted stretching

My body feels beat up. I need to sleep better and plan on doing less in my days.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Free Day at Home

Today's session was a good one. I pushed it into the early evening, since lunch was stuffed pizza and cake. After a nap, I felt strong. I did the following:

Grippers: 8/8 x T; 5/5 x #1; 3/3 x BBSA, BBSA, BBSA
One Arm Kettlebell Swings: 5/5 x 12k, 16k, 20k, 24k
Kettlebell Snatches: 5/5 x 16k, 20k, 24k; 3/3 x 28k; 1/1 x 32k; 1 / Miss x 36k (PR)
Kettlebell Cleans: 3/3 x 36k
Kettlebell Overhead Walks: 50ft/50ft x 24k, 24k
Renegade Rows: 5/5 x 20k, 20k
Singles with 30lb blob

I am extremely please with the demystification of my 36k kettlebell. This is the first time I've ever gotten 80lbs overhead with one arm. I did it righty and almost had it lefty. Now that I know I have, it is only a matter of time before I always can. Even better, at 162, I am only a few lbs away from the kettlebell being half my weight.

The stability work with overhead walks and renegade rows is very good for me. There is a muscle in my left lower / mid back that is feeling overworked right now. I think it is a compensation from my tendency to not fire the right hip properly. I have been focusing on contracting my abs at the bottom of forceful movements, but it is not a substitute for stability work like this.

Block weight work was weak today, earlier exercises did me in. I handled the heat surprisingly well.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Upper at 5 Seasons

Forget to post this one on Friday, updating it now:

I am very tired today. The week has caught up with me.


Overhead Press - 5 x 45, 65, 4 x 95, 3 x 95, 95, 95
Seated Row - 5 x 70, 90, 110, 110, 110
Pulldown - 5 x 8, 9, 10, 10, 10
Incline Dumbbell Press - 5 x 35, 45
Dumbell Row - 5/5 x 45, 55
Ab Board - 10 x BW, BW
Stretch and Foam Roller


I am going to switch up my pulling exercises on Tuesday. There is a plate loaded pulldown I'd like to try. I may also work dumbell snatches in. The incline dumbbell presses were tweaking my shoulder a little this morning, so I took it easy on them.


Despite feeling leaner, body weight is holding steady at 162.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lower at 5 Seasons

This morning I was tired, arrived at the gym a little late, and the power racks were both occupied. The people using them were squatting, which I was happy and surprised to see. It did mess with me a bit, since I had to clean the barbell for my front squats.

Warm Up - Elliptical 5 Minutes
Front Squat - 5 x 45, 65, 95; 3 x 115, 115, 115
Deadlift - 5 x 135, 185, 185, 185
High Step Up - 5/5 x BW, 20, 25, 25lbs
Barbell Side Bend - 8/8 x 45, 65, 65
Stretch for 15 minutes

Given my low energy level and the caloric deficit I've been running most of the week, the session went fairly well. I am ready for some extra rest.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Upper at 5 Seasons

This morning I felt tired, due to staying up too late last night. Someone needs to lift the weights though. I did:

Warm Up - 5 minutes on elliptical
Overhead Press - 5 x 45, 65, 85; 4 x 95; 3 x 95; 2 x 95
Seated Row - 5 x 90, 110, 110, 110
Pulldown - 5 x 8, 9, 10, 10
Incline Dumbell Press - 5 x 35, 45, 50, 50
Turkish Get Ups - 3/3 x 35lbs

I might have done another work set on the pulldowns and dumbell presses, but I cannot remember for sure. I threw a push press on to the end of the last two sets of overhead presses. After lifting, I stretched and used the foam roller for about 15 minutes.

I manged to avoid the left over chips and cookies at work today. Since they bring in lunch three times a week, I am growing accustomed to constant availability of free food. It makes ignoring the junk easier.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lower at 5 Seasons

Today I was rested and did the following:

Warm Up - Elliptical for 5 Minutes
Front Squat - 5 x BW, 45lbs, 65, 95; 3 x 115, 115, 115
Deadlift - 5 x 135lbs, 185, 195, 185
High Step Ups - 5/5 x BW, 15lbs, 20, 20
Ab Board at 2 - 10 x BW; 8 x 2.5lbs
Stretch and Foam Roller

I still have a hard time with deadlifting in early morning, especially without bumper plates. That, coupled with the tear in my hand from the snatch test, held me back a bit. Everything else went fairly well.

I was very busy at work and ate very clean as a result.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Free Day at Home

Today I had the opportunity to lift in my garage gym, during a storm. Adding heat and high humidity to the session definitely took something out of me. I did light kettlebell swings, presses, and snatches to warm up, along with a few triples on my grippers. Then I went for a 10 minute snatch test on my 24k kettlebell. I only got 74, which is 8 short of my PR. Once I recovered, I did a little work with the block weights.

I am still feeling out how these garage sessions should work. I need to take advantage of my opportunity to train explosively, use the instability introduced by kettlebells, and stress my grip.

Body weight is holding steady at 162, possibly a little under.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Upper at 5 Seasons

Today I did overhead press, seated rows, pulldowns, and incline dumbell press. After lifting I stretched and spent a few minutes trying to play basketball. I am humorously bad at it.

Tomorrow I plan to train grip and use my kettlebells. Whether I follow through remains to be seen.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lower at 5 Seasons

Today I did deadlifts, front squats, 45 degree back extensions, get up sit ups, side bends, and the ab board. Due to lack of sleep, I went with triples on the deadlifts and front squats. My workout was lower intensity than usual. I also spent extra time using the foam roller and stretching.

I expect lack of sleep to be a problem tomorrow as well. I am still learning to go to bed.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Upper at 5 Seasons

I was rushed this morning, due to a failure to set my alarm. I still arrived at the gym on time, but my weights were down. During the workout I did overhead presses, seated rows, pulldowns, incline dumbbell presses, and Turkish getups. After I stretched, but skipped the foam roller.

I managed to avoid the leftover meeting cookies, chips, and sandwiches at work today. The leftover salad I did have was excellent. Proper management of free food really is going to make or break my cutting program. My energy levels at work have begun to stabilize. I think I may be able to focus on eating strictly by next week.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Lower at 5 Seasons

Today I did deadlifts, front squats, high step ups, 45 degree back extensions, get up sit ups, and the ab board. Afterwards I stretched and used the foam roller. I am working pretty hard now.

My nutrition is on and off. Some days I eat very well, others I eat out multiple times. Sunday I weighed in at 162, which is the lowest I've been at since returning to work. I am building healthy patterns and managed to avoid the donuts that were brought in today.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Upper at Home

Today I had the opportunity to lift in my home gym. I did kettlebell snatches, presses, and renegade rows. All exercises were done with moderate intensity. Following the kettlebells I did some braced bending isos, rolling handle lifts, and lost a hard fought battle with a phone book. I have not trained grip since the contest two weeks ago. It shows.

Originally I planned to bike to the gym for yoga today, but I am exhausted. I slept 9 hours last night and fell asleep for another hour after my workout. The stress of two weekend trips coupled with starting a new job has finally caught up with me.  Given the opportunity to relax, my body is finally letting me know how tired it is. I hope to be fully recuperated by Monday.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Lower at 5 Seasons

Today I did deadlifts, front squats, high step ups, side bends, incline sit ups, and 45 degree hyper extensions. The first 3 exercises were done with higher intensity. The last 3 were done with moderate intensity. Following the weights I stretched and used the foam roller.

Tomorrow I have no work. I'll either bike to the gym for yoga and weights, or I'll lift at home. It depends when I wake up and how my energy levels are. The past two weeks have been extremely draining. I am very ready for the long weekend.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Upper at 5 Seasons

This morning I did overhead press, machine rolls, pulldowns, incline dumbbell press, Turkish get ups, and one arm dumbbell rows.  All exercises were done with moderate weight and relatively short rest periods. After lifting I spent 15 minutes doing mobility work. I really enjoy that the club makes foam rollers available.

Today I finally ate the lunch I brought on my first day of work. I also skipped the large basket of desserts from Corner Bakery. After all these years eating healthy, I still find it very hard to pass up free food.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Lower at 5 Seasons

Today I did deadlifts with a band for form, front squats, high step ups, and get up sit ups.  My schedule was limited due to a late arrival at the gym, so I dropped the 45 degree back extensions. I also stretched and used the foam roller for 15 minutes. The foam roller made my upper back feel great.

I am still working on my nutrition with the new job. Eating out twice a day while in Chicago did not help.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

General Activity

Friday I spent the day walking around Shedd Aquarium, Navy Pier, and downtown Chicago. In the evening I went swimming. Today I spent the day walking around the Nature Museum and the Field Museum. My weekend vacation was a lot of fun, but I did not have time to lift weights.

I will resume a normal lifting schedule Monday.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lower at 5 Seasons

Today I did Romanian deadlifts, front squats, 45 degree back extensions, high step ups, and sit ups on the ab board. After lifting I spent 15 minutes stretching and doing mobility work. I found the yoga room, complete with foam rollers and stretching straps.

I have tomorrow off and will be lifting at home. Thus my first week on the new job is complete. Overall I'd say it has gone very well. My goal was to become billable by the end of the week. I broached that territory today. Next week my goal is to not only complete a significant percentage of billable work, but to also generate billable hours for others. We'll see how that goes.

The impact on my training has been interesting. I need to get up at 5:30 (an hour early) to have enough time at the gym. When the time saved with early traffic, breakfast on the go, and a fast shower is accounted for, I actually get my workout for free. My intensity is a little low, but the risk of missing sessions is minimal.

On the other hand, my food has become challenging. The pattern I fell into is:

5:45 - Yogurt
7:45 - Peanut Butter Sandwich
8:00 - Protein Shake
10:00 - Small snack (Bar / Crackers)
12:00 - Delivered Lunch from somewhere
3:00 - Grapes
5:00 - Protein shake
7:00 - Cereal, Baby Carrots

Vegetables have fallen out of the picture. I ate out every day. Between sleep deprivation and new stressors, I had zero desire to eat the lame lunch I packed. Realistically, running a caloric deficit probably would have been a bad idea this week anyway. Fortunately, it has been easy to fit the protein shakes in. I find myself valuing them, which is a great sign for long term compliance.

Next week I am going to focus on the following nutritional goals:

1. Replace my small morning snack with carrots
2. Replace my dinner of cereal with whole grain pasta and some frozen vegetables

My schedule outside of work will be lighter moving forward as well. We adopted out 3 of the 4 foster cats over the course of two evenings this week, had to meet with a contractor one morning, and my wife had to work until midnight last night. Topping it all off, I came home on Sunday exhausted from the grip contest.

Writing it all out, improving my nutrition next week should be easy...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Upper at 5 Seasons

This morning I did the seated low row, overhead barbell press, incline dumbbell press, pulldowns, ab board, and some stretching. The weights and intensity were moderate. We didn't leave for the gym until 6am, but I had plenty of time to get my workout in. That means my waking time can bump to 5:30. Awesome!

The new job is going great, but I am real tired. Tomorrow I get to sleep in and am looking forward to it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lower at 5 Seasons

This morning was my first real training session at the new gym. I did Romanian deadlifts, goblet squats, 45 degree hypers, split squats, assisted single leg squats, crunches, and get up sit ups. Weights were relatively light, done with moderate intensity at most. Afterwards I stretched.

My primary goal for this week is settling into a routine. I suspect I will be able to leave for work 30 minutes later than I'd originally planned. That means extra sleep, whoo! The new gym has the best locker room I have ever used. Everything is streamlined in a way that makes cleaning up after my workout very efficient. The walk to my office looks to be around 5 minutes. My training will go very well.

After a day at the new job, I am extremely happy with what I have seen. The working environment meshes nicely with my personality. The only challenge I anticipate for my training program is lunch. Today we went out to celebrate my arrival. Wednesday and Thursday there will be catered lunches. It sounds like that may be a regular thing. If so, I'll need to adjust my nutritional template to accommodate.

I am having a lot of fun and very happy with where my life is at right now.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

MGC6 - Cycle Review

I start my cutting cycle tomorrow, so I need to review the results of my MGC6 cycle today.

With regards to my goals:

1. Job Search - I start tomorrow. This was my top priority and it went very well.

2. Grip Contest - I missed my pinch goal, but met the others. Ok for my second priority.

3. Weight Loss - I gained 2lbs. Doing otherwise was going to interfere with my other goals.

With regards to lessons learned:

1. I have passed the point where I will improve strength while running a caloric deficit. I think trying to do so severely impacted my work capacity and resulted in the burn out during week 6 of the cycle.

2. Unilateral leg training is a vital component of a balanced strength program.

3. If I want to pinch 3 times per week, I need to alternate between wide and narrow widths

With regards to my next cycle:

1. My primary goal is to make a stellar impression at the new job

2. I will get down to 15% body fat, then evaluate a push to 10%. This is my primary training goal

3. I am going to drop weight using the nutritional template designed during this cycle

4. My only focus in the gym will be showing up 4 days a week to do my upper / lower split

5. Grip work will occur once or twice a week, at home, in the evenings

6. I need to do heavy ab work

I have high expectations for this program and expect the focused goals to serve me well.

Michigan Grip Champs 6

This weekend I took the train to Michigan for a grip contest at Larkin's gym. My training for the last 8 weeks was targeted at this event. I earned the most points and took an uncontested last place. The events broke down like this:

1. Table No Set Grippers
Attempt 1: HG150
Attempt 2: HG200
Attempt 3: Missed the HG250
Attempt 4: Pass

I got exactly what I expected based on prior contests, matching my previous best.

2. Euro Pinch at 48mm - Rising Bar
Attempt 1: Missed 110lbs
Attempt 2: 110
Attempt 3: 115
Attempt 4: Missed 120lbs

The primary goal of my training cycle was a PR of 123lbs on the pinch. I got 120lbs a few inches off the ground, but I could not finish the lift. My pinch strength is at a peak, I strained until I was dizzy, but in the end I was not strong enough.

3. Overhead Hammer Lever
Attempt 1: 8lbs
Attempt 2: 9.25lbs PR
Attempt 3: Missed 10.5lbs
Attempt 4: Pass

I expected to miss 8lbs. Instead I hit a 1.25lb PR with 9.25lbs. This must be a result of the pinch training, as I did very little direct wrist work.

4. 2" V-bar - Rising Bar
Attempt 1: 140lbs
Attempt 2: 150lbs
Attempt 3: Missed 160lbs
Attempt 4: Pass

I hit my goal, but failed to exceed it. The 10lb jump from 150lbs was a mistake given the rising bar format. My best in training was 153lbs, so 155 might have gone. This was my first time contesting the lift, making 150 my contest PR.

5. Medley - 4 Minutes
High Platform: 30lb blob, Axe head pinch
Medium Platform: None
Low Platform: 100lb 2" dumbbell
Other: Touched handles on the easy spring

Most of the weights on this were out of my league. Getting any air under a 100lb 2" dumbbell is a PR for me. I'd never done the ax head lift or touched the handles on any of Don's springs, so those were both PRs.

I set PRs on some lifts, tied my bests on others, and am 35lbs lighter than last year. Progress has been good. I enjoyed myself immensely and will attend again next year. I was humbled and motivated by everyone involved. There is a long road to travel before I am truly competitive, but I will stay the course.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Everything Works

Today I did a very light workout, just enough to break a sweat. I have no pain on any of the exercises in Saturday's contest. That is good news. There is still a bit of lingering soreness deep in my thumbs, but it does not seem to impact my strength. I am a little tight in the hips, probably from doing nothing but sitting since Friday's yoga session.

I have the contest on Saturday. Sunday I will cook and pack for the gym. Monday I start my new job and new training cycle. I am well rested, prepared, and expect things to go very well.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Picked my Gym

Last night my wife and I joined the uppity gym. We got in with no contract term and a $79 joiners fee. After my company subsidy, it will cost us $90 a month as a couple. Given the location and hours, it should work well. It's also supposed to be a social club, but I don't see us participating in that aspect. Maybe we'll use the outdoor pool in the evenings sometimes.

The great part is, since I'll only be spending $40 a month to train, I can justify putting it on the back burner to some extent. This will let me focus totally on a strong start at the new job. My program will be simple and breaks down like this:

1. Lift on an lower / upper split, at 6am on Mon / Tues and Thurs / Fri.
2. Optional grip work or strength endurance work at home on Wed / Sat
3. Follow a moderate cutting diet, based on my nutritional template
4. Make a point to be asleep by 9pm, the alarm will be set for 5am

Based on prior experience, this is a program I can recover from. My grip and kettlebell work won't improve in the short term, but I am ok with that. I can build strength once I finish the cut.

My nutritional template needs to adjust based upon this schedule change. Since I will not be eating breakfast at home, whole wheat cereal on training days is out of the question. Instead, I'll have a yogurt before leaving for the gym. After I get done training, I'll eat a peanut butter sandwich and a protein shake.

The Nitrean protein arrived last night. It seems decent, with a similar flavor and ease of mixing as the EAS protein I've been using. It also digests well. I'll probably buy it again.

The only thing left to do for my new job is laundry. I might actually lift weights today.

Friday, June 13, 2008


I went to yoga with my Mom at LA Fitness this morning. The class was toned down a bit, due to a large number of new members. They let me in free, so I have no complaints. It was still very much worth my time. Yoga with my Mom is one of the things I will miss most about being unemployed. This time I even managed to talk her into Starbucks. A maple pecan scone tastes even better after yoga.

It looks like the 6am lifting sessions will definitely happen. My wife has agreed to deal with me getting up early, provided I go to bed at a reasonable hour. If the sports gym does not work out, there is a good chance she will also join the cushy one and come with in the mornings. I am still playing phone tag with the trainer from the sports gym, but intend to have this tied up early next week.

This evening I invested in fitted shirts and dress pants at Khols. For some reason the only style of Dockers that fit me were $10 extra per pair. At least they had clothes cut for a person with normal proportions. Today's shopping brings me to two weeks worth of well fitting dress clothes. After this summer's cut, maybe I'll get them tailored.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Another Gym

Today I did more biking and lifted at the 5 seasons club next to my new work - I can literally see the office from the windows of the gym. The good news is they are $80 a month, half of which my company will cover. They open at 5am, have a pool, two power racks, dumbbells up to 100lbs, and no stated policy on chalk.

On the down side, there is a 15 month contract. There is also the target market of the club. It is very upscale, with tennis courts, outdoor pool, sauna, lounge, restaurant, bar, spa, etc. This creates a lot of distractions I'd rather not contend with when trying to lift. You can smell food from the restaurant in the cardio area, for instance. Children were everywhere. Hardly anyone looked like they were trying.

Realistically, at 6am, most of the problems should be non-issues. The contract is my only major barrier. I'm going to call back the trainer at the awesome gym tomorrow morning. I'd still prefer to swing that place, but no way I'm paying $500 a month for the gym. If I can get them to waive the supervision rule like Stephan suggested, I'd be willing to pay their group rate of $175 a month. The gym is much closer suited to my preferences.

These are good problems. I am excited to get back to work. I'll do yoga at LA Fitness tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Are You a Triathlete?

Are you a triathlete? - That is the question I got at GNC. 18 months lifting low reps 3+ times a week, and now I look like an endurance athlete. Great.

At least the 20 miles I biked while shopping fits my genetics.

I went to several of the local gyms looking for a solution to staying active when I start my new job. There is a stripped down Worlds 2 blocks from the office. $65 bucks a month, no contract, dumbbells up to 150lbs, but only one power rack. The deal breaker - they don't open until 7am on Fridays. My new job starts at 8am.

The perfect gym is next door. Olympic platforms, sleds, glute ham benches, power racks, reverse hyper, kettlebells, etc. The catch - all that great equipment and you are not allowed to lift alone. Training sessions can get as cheap as $45 per hour, but that adds up! The coaches are accomplished lifters with experience teaching athletes.

I am going to speak with the guy who works mornings. Long term it makes no financial sense to train there every workout. On the other hand, a month of coached sessions followed by program tweaks every other week could be just what I need. It really comes down to the quality of coaching they can offer. My new job will pay $40 a month towards the gym, so ongoing sessions twice a month may be viable. It certainly would not hurt to learn from and be accountable to an expert coach.

In other news - I give up on buying dress clothes at Old Navy. A medium shirt billows around my waist and bursts at the seams on my back. Sure, if I was wearing a 2x, I could understand a 45-50" waist. But on a medium shirt with a 15.5" neck? Come on! No one is shaped like that.

Monday, June 9, 2008

MGC6 - 19 of 23

The broken air conditioning hit today's session pretty hard. I've averaged 6 hours of sleep each night since Wednesday. Last night, I barely slept at all. It is unfortunate to have my recovery blasted like this just as my training intensity was peaking. After 5 days without training, my back and hands are better, but definitely not at 100%. With no energy and the fatigue still present, I opted to stretch out, warm up, and stop.

I am kind of at a loss for the best way to finish the cycle. I don't see myself getting any stronger at this point. Ideally I'd rest up and compete on Sunday, ending the cycle. Unfortunately, the contest is in two weeks, not one. At a minimum I'll hit each of the scheduled sessions with stretching and a warm up. I am going to take it easy on the heavy weights, since it is probably better to rest too much than not enough.

The air conditioning did get repaired today. Assuming the actual problem has been fixed, my sleep should return to normal this evening. Hopefully that coupled with careful attention to recovery will result in a few PRs next Saturday.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Another Bike Ride

I intentionally skipped yesterday's training session. My knuckles have been aching the past few days and my back was tight. I actually went into the gym and warmed up, then decided it was best to stop. I've put my finger extension bands next to the computer and am now using them several times per day. My hope is that plus the extra rest will have my training pain free on Monday.

Today I went for a 13 mile bike ride to the mall with my Dad. The pace both ways was moderate. We did get caught in a thunderstorm on the way home, which left me fairly wet. It was a fun time though. My air conditioner is broken, so I am also happy for the cooling effect of the rain. I need to call someone out to fix it this week. I hate parting with the money for an optional luxury.

I need to back off on eating out this next week. Since accepting the job offer on Thursday, I've been out to eat every single day. I just really like to do it. I did order some Nitrean protein powder from at large nutrition on Saturday. I hope it mixes as well as the EAS whey I was getting from Peapod. The price is much better. My nutritional template for the impending cut has continued to evolve:

Standard Daily Meals - Around 2050 calories / 120g protein per day
1. 06am - Breakfast - Whole Grain Cereal w/ Milk and Protein in water (620/43)
2. 10am - Snack - Baby Carrots and Fruit or Yogurt (200 / 0 or 6)
3. 12am - Lunch - Whole Grain Pasta w/ Broccoli and Cheese (625/30)
4. 6pm  - Dinner - 1/2 Can Beans w/ Bread and Frozen veg (500/23)
5. 8pm - Snack - Protein in water (120 /23)

I've discovered I can drink and stomach whey protein blended with water in a shaker cup. That brings my protein closer to the suggested gram per lb of bodyweight. I also learned a full can of beans with dinner is too much food. I think eating something sweet at the 10am snack will help with lunch time compliance. I am not sure if it is realistic to replace the 10am fruit with my 6am protein shake, but I am considering it as a way to drop calories. My first job, however, is to stop eating out for entertainment.

Friday, June 6, 2008

It's not the heat...

Today I went for a 12 mile round trip bike ride to the mall. The pace heading out was moderate, the pace heading home was aggressive. Riding in the hot, humid weather should hasten my acclimation to summer lifting.

I accepted the job offer yesterday and should have a start date in the next week. This is a major professional transition, and I intend to make the most of it. Other than my actual workouts and log, all other training related activity will be sidelined. The results should prove interesting.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

MGC6 - 17 of 23

Great day leading up to this one. I got plenty of sleep, ate well, spent the day on interesting work, and capped it off with a job offer just before my training session! I was motivated to say the least:

Romanian Deadlifts - 5 x 20k, 60k, 90k, 90k, 90k, 90k
Overhead Press - 5 x 45lbs, 65lbs, 85lbs, 85lbs, 85lbs, 85lbs
Split Squat - 5/5 x 12k, 16k, 20k, 20k, 20k
Renegade Rows - 5/5 x 16k, 20k, 20k, 20k
Pinch Barbell - 5 x Empty, 50lbs, 70lbs; 3 x 95lbs, 95lbs, 95lbs

1. I decided to drop conventional deadlifts down to once a week.

2. My shoulders felt tired, so I kept the weight low on overhead press.

3. I hit new territory with the split squats, very cool.

4. Renegade rows were a matter of holding at current strength levels.

5. Pinch barbell fried my hands. I decided to skip levering as a result.

Overall a fine session. I am slowly acclimating to the heat. Time to evaluate my career options...

Monday, June 2, 2008

MGC6 - 16 of 23

Conditions leading up to today's session were less than ideal. I stayed up until midnight working on my resume, then at 5am one of the cats woke me up howling. I manged to fit a nap in around 3pm, but that put me into the gym feeling groggy. At least I got something done:

Warm Up - One Arm Swings - 12/12 x 12k; Kettlebell Snatches - 8/8 x 16k;
Front Squats - 5 x 45lbs, 65, 95, 115; 3 x 115, 115, 115
Grippers - Triples with BBSA, few second hold each rep
Overhead Press - 5 x 45lbs, 65, 85; 3 x 95, 95, 95
Power Cleans - 5 x 20k, 40k; 3 x 50k; 2 x 60k; 10 x 1 x 65k (reps on the minute); 1 x 60k, 60k;
Block Deadlifts - 3/3 x 27.5, 30, 30; Negatives - 3/3 x 32.5, 32.5

Not much work, but sufficient given my energy levels and the heat.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

MGC6 - 15 of 23

I decided to make this one a morning session, to leave the rest of my day free. Motivation was lacking:

Deadlifts: 5 x 60k, 80k; 3 x 100k, 100k; 5 x 90k, 80k (band for form on 100k, 90k)
Overhead Press: 5 x 45lbs, 65, 85, 85, 85, 85
Split Squats: 5/5 x 12k, 16k, 16k, 16k, 20k
Pinch Barbell: 5 x Empty, 50lbs; 3 x 80, 90, 90, 90

Performance was ok, but I had no energy. As a result, I dropped my renegade rows and 2" v-bar.

Yesterday I decided I am spending too much time on the internet. I am going to relegate lifting related message boards to Sunday mornings only. I think that will be a good thing.

Wednesday I did go for a bike ride. The awesome news is a Chipotle opened within 6 miles of my house.

This week I began the transition towards my nutrition template for the next training cycle. Tuesday through Friday I only ate out once, which is a significant improvement over the past month. My is feeling much better. I think I have an unrealistic volume of food planned my traning days, however.

I did figure out that I can down 24 grams of protein in 160 calories if I mix my powder with a cup of Gatorade and a half cup of water. It goes down quick and easy, so I may work that in to my template.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

MGC6 - 14 of 23

Yesterday I had a deep soreness in my hands and posterior chain. Today it persists, so I made my session an easy one:

Warm Up - 45 minutes of stretching and mobility work
One Arm Swings - 12/12 x 12k, 16k
Kettlebell Snatch - 5/5 x 16k, 20k; 7x5/5x24k, one set per minute; 6/6 x 24k

This gave me a whopping 2 rep PR on my 10 minute snatch test. My conditioning is holding me back here, big time. I need to learn to switch hands on the backswing of the snatch as well. I lose a lot of time and momentum setting the weight down between hands.

I'll probably ride my bike somewhere this afternoon. The weather is awesome.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Chicago Grip Association - May Videos

2" FBBC V-bar videos from this weekend's grip together:

Paul - 148lbs -
Matt - 148lbs -
Scott - 153lbs -
Mike - 183lbs -
Steve - 228lbs -

I also put Steve's 81lb FBBC Bomb lift on his video. Just a sample of the fun we have.

MGC6 - 13 of 23

This morning I woke up early and finished some contract work that is due tomorrow. It left me a little tired, but it also kept my day open to enjoy the holiday. My wife and I saw the new Narnia movie, went to Subway, and got ice cream. Upon returning home, I took a short nap, used the internet, and then hit the garage:

Deadlifts (band for form): 5 x 40k, 60k, 90k, 100k, 100k, 70k (no band)
Renegade Rows (feet elevated 11"): 5/5 x 16k, 20k, 20k, 20k
Overhead Press: 5 x 45, 65, 85lbs; 3 x 95lbs; 5 x 85lbs
Split Squats: 5/5 x 12k, 16k, 16k, 16k

Grippers: A bunch of sets of 5 with the #1 between exercises
Block Deadlifts: 3/3 x 25, 27.5, 30, 30; 3/3 Attempts x 32.5, 32.5

1. I am going to start removing the band from my deadlift warm up sets in addition to the back off set
2. I need to hold renegade rows at the current weight and improve the quality of my movement
3. Same deal with split squats. I need to get consistent with foot placement as well.
4. Overhead press is climbing back up to prior levels at a decent pace. I am pleased.
5. I will increase grippers to the BBSA next, BBM the following week, a max the final week
6. Blocks are still down from PR levels, but should build quickly
7. My final grip workout before the contest will consist of singles on all of the major events

Overall a fine session. The heat took far more out of me than I expected. I need to acclimate fast, because it was only 78 degrees this evening. Summer weather may require my sessions to move into the morning and will provide strong motivation to clean up my diet.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Nutrition Baseline

Today I walked around 3 miles. More importantly, I invested time planning for my next training cycle.
Leaning out will be my next focus, with an emphasis on manipulating nutritional variables to stay healthy and minimize strength losses. Dropping weight without getting sick seems to be an impossible task for me lately. Based on past experience, I am going to tweak the approach I used leading up to the fitness conference:

1. Instead of counting nutrients, I'll work off meal templates
2. Meal design will emphasize a high fiber diet
3. I'll eat extra food on my training days
3. Cardio sessions will be limited to one per week
5. I will set a nutritional baseline prior to starting the program

Since I want to start the program in 4 weeks, I need to develop the nutritional baseline now. This week I will transition towards the template below, using food I have on hand. Starting with my next grocery shopping, I'll make the full switch over, but allow for extra food and eating out as my hunger dictates. Assuming all goes well, I will move into the program strictly starting June 23rd.

Standard Daily Meals - Around 2000 calories / 100g protein per day
1. 06am - Breakfast - Whole Grain Cereal w/ Milk and Baby Carrots (500/20)
2. 10am - Snack - Balance Bar (200/15) or Fruit and Nuts (300/8)
3. 12am - Lunch - Whole Grain Pasta w/ Broccoli and Cheese (625/30)
4. 6pm  - Dinner - Canned Beans w/ Bread and Frozen veg (700/30)

Training Day Food Additions - 630 calories / 43g protein
1. Yogurt pre-workout
2. 16oz Gatorade during workout
3. Protein shake post-workout

Expected Weekly Food Cost - $91
2lbs Whole Grain Pasta ($7)
2 boxes cereal ($10)
7 cans prepared beans ($18)
2 10oz bags broccoli ($4)
2lb carrots ($5)
2 8oz bags cheese ($6)
1 gallon milk ($6)
4 yogurts ($5)
4 bags frozen vegs ($8)
1 bottle Gatorade ($3)
1/2 gallon choc soy milk ($4)
1 taco shells ($2)
1 loaf bread ($3)
4 balance bars ($7)
1 Salsa ($3)

The expense comes from buying prepared foods through Peapod.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Chicago Grip Association - May 08

Today we held a late spring meet up of the Chicago Grip Association. Paul, Mike, Matt, and Steve were able to make it. We had a great time, and I am amazed how much was covered. The training broke out like this:

Matt came very close on several of the #2's that were floating around. Steve closed Paul's hard #2, which means he is dominant over just about any #2 he will encounter. I believe Paul was very close on my hard #2, but I am not sure if he closed it. Mike hit several grippers around the #2 level and came very close on my Super Master. The heaviest gripper I closed was a 1.5. We covered some excellent material on getting the most out of setting a gripper, which I think will lead to Matt dominating #2’s in the near future.

It was excellent to try the wide range of grippers available. Mike brought a Vulcan gripper replica he made, along with one of his ring and pinky trainers. Having tried the Vulcan style gripper, I can now appreciate why someone would prefer it over an array of standard torsion spring grippers. The lack of spring skew makes for a very stable close and removes the need for a knurled handle. The ring and pinky trainer was also very cool, offering the combined advantages of a Vulcan gripper and a Tug. Anyone who is serious about grippers should be looking into one.

Mike and I stepped back when it came time to bend. The other guys more than made up for it. Paul brought over his bending trainer from David Horne. That is a sweet piece of kit. He has the easy spring, and on the easy setting, it's still too hard for me! Very cool design though. We tried putting a Vice Gripper spring on there, but it was still too much.

I saw several solid bends. I know for sure Matt hit a standard 60d, as well as a piece of 7"x1/4" FBBC hex. I think Steve got a 60d of mine that he failed on last year. His bending has come a long way. I think Paul took down a 12" spike, and I know he was giving Steve pointers on the mid-length bending as well. I saw Steve working on a 12" spike, not sure exactly how far he got it. Paul took down a couple nice short bends as well, I'm not sure exactly what. I want to say there was a 5.5” Grade 8 he took a good run at.

A couple guys tried to figure out horseshoe bending with a Diamond 0 I had, but none of us know how to do it. I gave it to Steve to work on, since he kept out lifting the rest of us. I get a feeling that shoe won't be safe for long. Paul was generous with the bending stock, handing out a bunch of 70d's to Steve and I. I'll need to talk Rick into coming over at some point so these get bent

FBBC 2" V-bar
We worked through the 2" V-bar in a rising bar fashion. I got all the lifts on video, which I'll process and put online for certs. I think everyone hit PRs on this lift. Consensus was the FBBC 2" V-bar is nicer than the homemade bars guys have been training on. This is a solid exercise, and it goes over much better than the 1" version. Steve made a big showing here, breaking the 225lb barrier. We also spent some time comparing the best way to grip and lift the 2” v-bar, which was helpful.

Block Weights / Wide Pinch
For the most part, I avoided the block weight work, saving myself for a 2 hand pinch PR attempt. As a result, I am not sure exactly what was lifted. I do know everyone else put a big hurt on the blocks though. Paul brought over an awesome 37.5lb hex block that was narrower than most hexes. I managed to lift that righty, I think everyone else did it with both hands. He also had a length of coat hanger cut for adding weight to the blocks. A very simple idea, but it worked great and is the best method I have seen for loading blocks.

Paul and Steve played around a little with pinching 10lb plates. I think Paul got 4 with a loading pin through them, Steve got 5 with a loading pin through. Removing the loading pin made a huge difference, sticking the plates to the floor for both of them. There was also some interesting conversation on the impact hand spread has vs. hand size when lifting a block.

Steve demonstrated some impressive pinching of the block weights by the face. I told him that sort of thing makes my thumb feel like it will rip off. He indicates he got the feeling at first as well and was able to train it away. Perhaps I am capable of wider pinching than I thought.

Two Hand Pinch (FBBC Big Squeeze)
We took this one up to 110lbs in plates. I am sure Steve, Mike, and I got it. I think Matt might have, but cannot remember. Mike and Steve had more left for sure, but stopped there on my pet lift, preserving my ego Mike's observation last year was there are certain tools that work better without chalk. This barbell is definitely one of them.

We played around with static front levers on the 6lb sledge. Mike and Steve were very close to the end of the handle. I think Paul was as well. I am still stuck near the middle. Discussion came up about getting ready for the Michigan contest. It sounds like there is a chance Steve is going to come out for it, and I encouraged him to. I think he will make a solid middle of the pack showing if he competes.

We spent some time playing with my different kettlebells. Paul and Steve both cleaned my 40k kettlebell. Steve even put it overhead. That is a big kettlebell! Matt, Paul, and Steve played around with bottoms up presses. I am sure Matt got the 16k and 20k, not sure about the 24k. Paul and Steve did the 24k, but I don't think anyone got the 28k overhead bottoms up.

We also spent some time talking about getting the most out of a two handed swing. The distinction between thrusting the hips out vs. up was covered, as well as the need to use the hips instead of the upper body when doing a swing. None of us are experts on this stuff, but I find it helpful to talk about it with others in person. It was also refreshing that we were all prepared to admit the limits of our expertise.

Mobility Work
We spent some time talking about bodyweight training and mobility work. Matt gave some excellent advice and demonstrations on how one works up to doing a muscle up. He showed us a false grip like one would use on the rings, but did it on my heavily knurled chin bar. He was doing pull ups like that, which must of hurt. He also touched on how one is supposed to work up to a muscle up on a chin bar. None of us are there, but I think both he and Steve have definite potential for one.

We also touched on the user of trigger point therapy and myofascial release for managing back pain. I showed Matt how to hit the ITB band and deep hip extensors on a foam roller. I also encouraged him to look into a foam ball for doing the same ( Mike talked about using a knobber type device to dig into trigger points. Matt also showed us a good mobility exercise for opening up the hips. I was surprised to see how easily Mike dropped into the deep squat for it. There is something to this training stuff!

Other Equipment
Matt's moving and brought over a few things for us. Mike made off with a couple block weights, I got a military duffle bag for a sandbag and the head for a 10lb sledge. Totally sweet. Matt got the first edition of Starting Strength and a copy of Brad Johnson's body weight training book. I think he'll definitely be able to make better use of it than I could. Matt also gave me some good advice on the best way to fill the duffle bag so I can train with it, without sand going everywhere. Very cool.

Mike made me an excellent short box for box squats. I told him it would need to hold 400lbs at most, I bet this thing would hold twice that. It is super heavy duty and makes a great addition to my gym. I am slowly assembling the equipment needed to make a solid run at the Westside beginner's program.

The other custom stuff Mike has built was very cool. I touched on the ring and pinky trainer earlier. He has a real talent for bringing stuff like this together. We also showed the rolling handle he made me last year to Matt. He'd never seen one. The topic of hook gripping it came up, none of us are even close.

Steve and I hit the FBBC bomb at the very end of the session. He learned how to perform the lift for a contest setting and worked up to 70lbs in plates, plus the 8lb implement and loading pin. I’d guess the total was around 82lbs. I got this one on video.

I had an excellent time, and I am very happy everyone was able to make it. Whenever we have one of these events, I am always struck by how genuinely nice the people are. There is nothing but encouragement, generosity, and good will. It creates an extremely constructive environment that leads to PRs all around.

Without fail, the guys humble me with their performances. It is refreshing to train with people stronger me, especially when they share the work it took to develop that strength.. The advice handed out was top notch and will help my training long term without question. One of the things I find most interesting is the fact that everyone is working around some sort of injury or issue. They all deal with it and get stronger anyway.

I intend to host a few more events this summer and highly encourage lifters in the Chicago area to attend. We cover more over a few hours in the gym than you will get in months training alone and posting on the internet.