Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Just in Time

Due to my problems with the cold, I have taken to making every lifting session count. The high risk of a missed work out resulting from sub zero temperatures makes light days a luxury I cannot afford. This session was a reflection of that need, coupled with my limited recovery from the session on Sunday. I did:

Warm Up
Two Hand Swings
Kettlebell Snatches

Back Squats and Front Squats
Power Cleans
One Arm Kettlebell Presses and Push Presses
Bodyweight Step Ups to Bench


Overall it was a fine session. I went up to ~65k on the power cleans, which is approaching my old PR. The new barbell makes this exercise much smoother and adds to the weights I can handle. On the deadlifts I worked up to 2 singles with 110k. My 15k bumper plates finally arrived and I wanted to lift them all. I enjoy how much quieter the bumper plates make deadlifts. It makes me wish I'd also ordered the 25k plates.

Random workouts whenever the weather accommodates will form the crux of my training until winter is over. My primary goal is to avoid losing any strength while dropping to a body weight of 165.  Adding some strength would be a nice bonus. I think it will happen.

I need more stall mats.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Weekend Review

The weekend was a busy one:

Friday - My bumper plates arrived, so of course I had to try them out. I stacked my stall mats on top of each other and did power cleans up to 60k, dropping every single one of them. It was a lot of fun. The new barbell is so much smoother than my old one. I am very happy with it.

Saturday - I spent all day in the car, going to and from Wisconsin to look at retired racing greyhounds. My wife and I are adopting two of them. The first one arrives on Friday. It will be a lot of work, but I expect it to be rewarding.

Sunday - I spent the morning with family, took a nap, and then trained in the early evening. The workout was somewhat random, with two arm swings, kettlebell snatches, back squats, power cleans, overhead presses, and romanian deadlifts. I did not track weights, sets, or reps.

Sunday morning I weighed in at 173 (172.1 to be precise). The missed workouts due to the cold have my March 2nd strength goal at risk, but nailing 165 body weight should be no problem.  I'll keep on task and be primed for a heavy strength cycle come Spring.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Trouble with the Cold

Thursday morning I went into the garage to lift, but it was just too cold. I read instead.

Thursday evening at work I was excited to go home and train. By the time I walked home, I was too cold. I went into the garage to lift, but couldn't make myself do it. Instead I wrestled with figuring out a good way to carry my stall mat into the basement. Short of dragging it, I couldn't find an answer. Then I carried my kettlebells to the basement and called it a night.

Friday morning I went in the basement to use the kettlebells, but again, the drive wasn't there. I installed the second hard drive in my Linux box instead. I know I hate training in a basement. That is why my weights are in the garage in the first place.

I need to train in the garage, but when it is below 10 degrees outside, I am not doing it. My knees hurt, I feel stiff, and the metal makes my hands go numb. The best answer I have right now is to skip my workout when it is too cold. That is lame and I don't like the excuse. I am not sure what else to do though. I did not expect prolonged periods of single digit temperatures.

On the bright side, Sunday should be 35 and my new barbell came yesterday. I am looking forward to the workout.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Light Day

The temperature was a balmy 28 degrees this morning, great weather for a winter morning. I hit my light day in the garage feeling pretty good:

105 Seconds per Set

Goblet Squats - 5 x BW, 16k, 24k, 32k
Kettlebell Squats - 5 x 16k's, 16k's, 16k's, 16k's
Romanian Deadlifts - 5 x 95, 165, 165, 165
Windmills - 3/3 x 12k, 16k, 12k, 16k
Renegade Rows - 5/5 x 16k's, 16k's, 16k's, 16k's
Kettlebell Presses - 5 x 16k's, 16k's, 16k's, 16k's

A few items of note here:

1. My right hip has felt out of alignment lately. I suspect this is due to my lack of walking. I could feel it on my squats and opted to substitute windmills for turkish get ups as a result. I might be able to address the problem with stretching. Fast walking in warm weather would be best, but I won't be doing that until the spring.

2. I decided not to elevate my feet on the renegade rows. It makes the exercise too hard and causes me to avoid it. Better to do the easy variation than not at all.

3. Since I was feeling strong with the longer rest periods, I opted for doubles on the kettlebell presses. It gave me more rest time between sets and may have actually been easier. I will play around with this a little on Thursday with the 20k's.

Yesterday I ordered my bumper set. I went with the kilos version and want it to arrive now

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Winter Workout

The thermometer read 1 degree this morning, up from a low of 0.1 degrees – definitely less than ideal conditions for my garage workout. I considered dragging the weights into the basement, but decided to just make due. The workout went like this:

90 Seconds per Set:

Goblet Squats: 5 x BW, 16, 24, 32k
Kettlebell Squats: 5 x 16k's, 20k's, 20k's, 20k's
Romanian Deadlifts; 5 x 135, 185, 185, 185
Turkish Get Ups: 1/1 x 20k, 20k, 20k, 20k
Renegade Rows: 1/1x16K

At this point I had to stop. My muscles could have kept going, but I was gassed. The cold air may have contributed to this, but I think the rest period I have chosen is too short for strength training. I will increase my time per set by 15 seconds next workout.

After a few minutes of rest, I went inside and bent 4 pieces of 6"x3/16 round, a timber tie, and a piece of 7"x1/4 round. The last piece really let me know I was done. The gripper work I did Saturday evening my have contributed to my weak bending.

Overall training is going pretty well. I am stretching consistently and my calves feel much better, though not yet 100%. Body weight held steady in the 175-176 range last week, even with:

1. Steady consumption of free office cookies during the work day
2. Eating out on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

It is time to dial my food in for the push to 165 on March 2nd. Given this week's results, all it will require is a reduction in eating out. I already finished the cookies .

I have decided to place an order for the Olympic bumper set. The only thing holding me back was the idea of spending $529 on weights. However, I have the money, the product is fairly priced, and I think about wanting it daily. I know the desire is somewhat irrational, but if the novelty wears off, I can recoup most or all of my expense by selling it locally.

Saturday I did a little work on gripfaq.com. I added a clear indication that the pictures can be enlarged. I also improved the way the site looks when it prints in IE. I still have problems with image alignment wrapping over two sheets of paper, but I am one step closer to having something that can dynamically generate a book.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Happy to Train

Last night I spent time doing soft tissue work on my  calves and went to bed by 9pm. This morning I woke up energized at 5:30, feeling ready to train. After an hour I went into the garage:

90 Seconds per Set

Goblet Squats - 5 x BW, 16k, 24k, 32k
Kettlebell Squats - 5 x 16k's, 16k's, 16k's, 16k's
Romanian Deadlifts - 5 x 165, 185, 185, 185
Turkish Get Ups - 1/1 x 16k, 20k, 20k, 20k
Renegade Rows - 5/5 x 16k, 20k, 20k, 16k
One Arm Press - 5/5 x 16k, 4/4 x 20k, 20k, 3/3 x 20k
Calf Raises - 10 x BW, BW, BW, BW

My knees feel fine now. The squats were tough on my adductors, but I could probably handle a little more weight. Grip of all things was struggling on the deadlifts, likely due to the cloth gloves I am wearing. Turkish get ups were unstable since my calves are still fatigued.

On the renegade rows, I noticed my upper traps are contracting really hard. To alleviate this, I raised my feet on to my bench on the last set. Whoa! It totally changes the dynamic of the exercise, much harder on my core. It also moves the load further down my back, where I want it. I'll experiment with more of these on Sunday.

Calf raises were to get blood flow into my sore lower legs. They still hurt, but I am functional. On this Sunday I plan to repeat the calf workout from the prior Sunday. I do not think it will leave me so sore the second time around, and I hate getting owned by an exercise like that.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Severe DOMS

It turns out a few hard sets of calf raises after 2 years of no direct calf work is enough to take me out of commission. I could feel this coming on yesterday and spent an hour doing mobility work in the early evening.  This morning I followed up with a hot bath. It was all too little too late. My calves are severely sore, standing is an exercise in pain management, dropping into a full squat is just about impossible.

Regardless, I tried doing the light workout today. I left the office a little early, put on my workout clothes, went into the garage, and did a warm up set of body weight quarter squats. Then I struggled with snatching the 16k kettlebell. It just wasn't happening today.

I should know better. This degree of soreness is counter-productive. Hopefully I am healed enough that I can train Thursday morning.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Better than Stretching

This workout was earned. Between the test day and hours spent shooting pool yesterday, I did not feel like lifting weights today. It took several meals, cleaning the garage, a hot bath, and a nap to get me ready to lift. Come 4:30 the sun was setting and I finally got to work:

90 Seconds per Set

Goblet Squats - 5 x BW, 16k, 24k, 32k
Kettlebell Squats - 5 x 16k's, 16k's, 16k's, 16k's
Romanian Deadlifts - 5 x 135, 185, 185, 185
Turkish Get Ups - 1/1 x 16k, 20k, 20k, 20k
Renegade Rows - 5/5 x 16k, 20k, 20k, 20k
One Arm Press - 5/5 x 16k, 4/4 x 20k, 20k, 3/3 x 20k
Calf Raises - 10xBW, One Legged - 10/10 x BW, BW, BW


1. On the Goblet Squats and Kettlebell Squats, I put my feet a little wider than shoulder width. This is probably twice as wide as they were previous workouts. I had absolutely zero knee pain. I might have been able to work through the narrow stance squats with lots of stretching, but doing them pain free in the first place is much, much better. These may bump to the 20k's next Sunday.

2. I added 20lbs on the Romanian deadlifts. They were heavier, but manageable. The weight will stay the same next Sunday.

3. Without any knee pain from the squats, my turkish get ups were easy. Next Sunday I will bump the warm up to 20k and the work sets to 24k.

4. I did the renegade rows in front of a mirror to watch my form. My focus was on keeping the kettlebells under my shoulders and not letting my hips move as I rowed the weight. This made the exercise much harder, I must have gotten sloppy. Tuesday's light workout will require dropping to the 16k's. 20k's will be used again next Sunday.

5. The one arm press got a little sloppy for my 4th rep on the second work set. I wanted progress on the exercise, but the renegade rows really took a lot out of me. My light workout on Tuesday will use the 16k's for warm up and work sets. 20k's again on Thursday.

6. I chose calf raises for my free exercise today. This is the first time I have done direct calf work since I hurt my foot falling down the stairs almost 2 years ago. I can tell I will be sore tomorrow. On the bright side, no foot pain.

Overall this workout went well and I am happy with it. The entire program took a mere 45 minutes. The time was really spent improving the quality of my movements opposed to lifting heavier weights. That's ok though, because pain free movement will pay off with bigger weights eventually.

Given the breakthrough with my squats and the knee pain, I am no longer sure about a metal DDR pad or an Airdyne. I am definitely going to order Rippetoes's two new books. $45 invested learning from him will do more for me than any exercise equipment.

I am excited for the Perform Better seminar. I have begun the process of tracking down the fitness professionals I worked with in college. Hopefully a few of them will attend and we can catch up.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Test Day

The vast majority of my Saturday was spent in the basement, shooting pool and experimentally installing Linux on my desktop computer from college. It now dual boots Windows XP and SUSE Linux. I am impressed enough that I plan to put a new, large hard drive into the desktop and start using it as a primary home machine. The range of available software and the freedom from IP restrictions really appeals to me. The fact that I can also revitalize a 9 year old computer with no chance of running Vista makes it a clear win.

In between my playing around, I ducked into the garage to knock a few goals off of my relatively strong list. Weighing in at 176 means my new 40k kettlebell was qualifies for the 1/2 body weight kettlebell goals. After a quick warm up, I was able to hit two of them:

Clean - http://www.gripfaq.com/videos/20080112OneHalfBWKettlebellClean.wmv
Goblet Squat -  http://www.gripfaq.com/videos/20080112OneHalfBWKettlebellGobletSquat.wmv

The push press and snatch are a long ways off. Following the goal lifts, I made an attempt on my #2 gripper and just barely missed it. While processing my videos, I noticed that my knees shift around in the bottom of the goblet squat.  After reviewing how I should be squatting in Starting Strength, I think my knees hurt because my stance has become too narrow.

I also finally got a picture of my Gripmas trophy to knock that goal off the list. It is here:

Gripmas Results -  http://www.gripfaq.com/videos/20071208GripmasResults.jpg

Friday, January 11, 2008

Perform Better Functional Training Summit

I have officially signed up for the Perform Better Functional Training Summit in April. From 4/18 through 4/20 I will be staying at a hotel in Chicago (Chinatown specifically) and going to McCormick place to learn from guys like Anthony DiLuglio, Mike Boyle, Alwyn Cosgrove, Carlos Santana, and Gray Cook.

Outside of providing the motivation to train hard for the next few months, this should be a great learning experience. I think I earn CEC's for my ACSM HFI cert as well.  Total cost should be $700 with food and cabs.  Not too bad for a long weekend doing what I enjoy and my first trip to Chinatown.

Due to the conference registration, I am going to wait until payday on Tuesday to make a final decision on the metal DDR pad. No need to rush spending money. I am pretty sure affording the pad isn't a problem, but I'd like to be certain.

Body weight was 175 this morning. I may test for the 1/2 BW kettlebell clean and goblet squat goals on Sunday.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tweaked but Working

This morning was another case of forcing myself into the garage. I woke up tired and the sun was still rising when it came time for me to start lifting.  The shortest day of winter was supposed to be in December, so I don't really know why it is still getting light later and later.  In any case, I went for it:

Goblet Squats: 5 x BW, 16k, 24k, 32k - Tweaked my knee taking the 32k out and felt it on this set
Kettlebell Front Squats: 1x16k's - Here my knee was still aching, so I stopped
Romanian Deadlifts: 5 x 95, 165, 165, 165
Renegade Rows: 5/5 x 16k's, 20k's, 20k's, 20k's
One Arm Press: 5/5 x 16k, 4/4x20k, 3/3 x 20k, 20k
Windmills: 3/3 x 12k, 12k, 12k - Tweaked my back, time to stop these
Chins: 1, 2, 3 - Just trying to decompress the back

Things just did not come together this morning. I thought about quitting during the goblet squats, but decided I better work around the problem if I am to make progress. The knee was aching a few workouts ago as well. I think the combination of 8 sets of squats and 4 sets of turkish get ups is kind of hard on me. That coupled with my lame stretching as of late is probably the root cause of my problem. I need to get back on the horse with my mobility work.

I believe tomorrow factors should line up to justify purchase of a metal DDR pad. If this happens, I will plan to use it 20 minutes on my off days, followed by 20 minutes of stretching and mobility work while I am warm. I'll need to be careful not to go overboard, but I think it could be a good tool to ensure I recover properly. I might also drop the set of goblet squats with the 32k.

Recognizing my 100% goal motivated orientation, I have started setting up my schedule to provide reason to train. This is what I am training for:

March 2nd - Test day for this cycle with the 24k's at 165lbs
April 18th-20th - Perform Better Functional Training Seminar
June 21st - Michigan Grip 6 Contest

I figure I'll do what it takes to hit my test day, spend 6 weeks refining for the functional training seminar (running maybe), and then focus the 2 months leading up to Michigan on strength work and lots of grip. This should get me through the first half of the year motivated and successful. I'll be out $600 for the training seminar and $500 for Michigan, but that must be the price of greatness.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Make it Routine

I made a point to get into the gym this morning.  Enthusiasm was lacking, but I did it anyway. The workout went like this:

90 seconds rest between sets:

Goblet Squats - 5 x BW, 16k, 24k, 32k
Kettlebell Squats - 5 x 16k's, 16k's, 16k's, 16k's
Romanian Deadlifts - 5 x 135, 165, 165, 165
Turkish Get Ups - 1/1 x 16k, 20k, 20k, 20k
Renegade Rows - 5/5 x 16k, 20k, 20k, 20k
One Arm Press - 5/5 x 16k; 4x20k, 3x20k, 3x20k
Axle Chins - 1,1

The sets and reps were very similar to Sunday's workout. My program is emerging as a heavy, medium light split. I will do the routine above as my light workout on Mondays, repeat Sunday's workout on Thursdays, and try to add weight on Sundays. I think three days a week is the minimum consistency I need to make gains.

As alluded in my prior post, Gripfaq.com updates have to stop for awhile. Thinking about training so much interferes with my training. The past month has seen my weight training totally stagnate. I'd prefer to make progress. I am planning to follow through with my current program to the end of next month.  

I will complete the routine above on March 2nd with the 24k's at a body weight of 165.

GripFAQ.com Videos, Finally

Last night I was able to make time to build a video page for gripfaq.com. It's not perfect, but the job is done. I will probably end up tweaking things over time, but for now, I am going to take a break from web site upgrades. There are other things in life I need to focus on.

For my loyal blog readers, direct links to all the video pages, enjoy:

  1. Reverse Style Short Bending

  2. Double Underhand Short Bending

  3. Palms Down Short Bending

  4. Double Overhand Short Bending

  5. Dexterity Ball Exercises

  6. Two Hand Pinch

  7. Finger Press

  8. Block Weight Exercises

  9. One Hand Dynamic Pinch

  10. Thick Dumbbell Deadlift

  11. Axle Deadlift

  12. Timed Hold

  13. Thick Dumbbell Clean And Press

  14. One Hand Deadlift

  15. Rolling Handle-Deadlift

  16. Two Inch Vertical Bar

  17. One Inch Vertical Bar

  18. Overhead Lever

  19. Rear Lever

  20. Front Lever

  21. Side Lever

  22. Extension Spring Gripper

  23. Gripper Parallel Set

  24. Gripper Credit Card Set

  25. Gripper No Set Close

  26. Gripper Overcrush

  27. Hand Pronation

  28. Hand Supination

  29. Radial Deviation

  30. Ulnar Deviation

  31. Wrist Flexion

  32. Wrist Extension

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Paying Dues and More GripFAQ.com Updates

Friday evening I was out late, leaving me too tired on Saturday to do my workout. Saturday I spent resting, the high point was selling my 45 degree back extension to make space. Saturday night I slept 12 hours, making me well rested but groggy on Sunday. The workout I got in went like this:

90 seconds rest between sets:

Goblet Squats - 5 x BW, 16k, 24k, 32k, 1x40k
Kettlebell Squats - 5 x 16k's, 16k's, 16k's, 16k's
Romanian Deadlifts - 5 x 135, 165, 165, 165, 165
Turkish Get Ups - 1/1 x 16k, 20k, 20k
Renegade Rows - 5/5 x 16k, 20k, 20k, 20k
One Arm Press - 5/5 x 16k; 4x20k, 3x20k, 3x20k
Axle Chins - 2
Grippers - Couple reps per hand on Trainer, #1, and Super Advanced

As the goblet squats indicate, my 40k kettlebell came from Perform Better. It is much closer in style to the Dragon Door kettlebells than the Power Max ones, with a short thinner handle that is attached close to the bell. It will meet my needs but sure does feel heavier than I remember the Power Max version being.

The chins got cut short because condensation from the rapid temperature change in Chicago (2 degrees on Thursday, over 50 degrees today) made the bar too slippery. The temperature fluctuations may ultimately rust my equipment, but there is nothing economical I can do about it. Given that the entire cost of my home gym is under $2500 and rust is still heavy, the best thing is to ignore it.

I need to get my frequency up to 3 times per week if any real progress is to result from this program. I will try to lift again on Tuesday morning. Stretching needs to happen on my off days as well.

GripFAQ.com progress is still ongoing. This weekend I:

1. Got the C# conversion is down to a single remaining admin page
2. Cleaned up the mess left by my navigation revisions over vacation
3. Processed all of my videos to be ready for upload

In the next few days I should get the videos up. I have opted to provide a link beneath each entry with video that opens a new window with an embedded video object and some google ads. Since IE security sometimes blocks applets like this, the page will offer the video for download as well.

My original plan was to direct link to the videos from my primary pages, but my initial foray has resulted in 147megs distributed over 34 videos. I hesitate to offer that much content ad free in a format that is easy to hot link or download multiple times on accident. I would also prefer to offer a page on the website that can be easily linked to for reference.

There is a flaw in my plan, which is that all videos are in WMV format. I briefly looked into converting them to flash for better cross-browser compatibility, but the trade offs do not appear worth the effort. It seems as though users on Apple or Linux OS's have options for playing WMV, so I am going to take the format as good enough for now.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Activity and Gripfaq.com Updates

Last night I played DDR for a little over an hour, mostly 5 and 6 foot songs.  If my enthusiasim keeps up and my finances align, I'll order a metal DDR pad next Friday. The game is awesome.

On the gripfaq.com front, I added a custom error page to display if the site fails:


Eventually I'll get that moved over to a web form that lets the user email me the error. I think the intermittent failure I fixed last week was cutting my traffic quite a bit. I will take future errors much more seriously and think automated notification of errors will help.

I have also enabled output caching, so the pages are only generated off the sql database once a week. I still need to add sql invalidation to the caching, so that the pages will be updated immediately when I change content. I need to finish the chapter on caching in my .NET 2.0 book first though

The reason I enable caching was because I notice a lag in the load time of the main content section on the page. This was not improved. I think IE is waiting to download the images or something like that. I'll have to investigate it further and see how I can optimize the page's HTML structure, maybe even quantify the loading performance for better analysis.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Finally Trained

This morning I climbed out of bed and went to my gym for training.  The weights were the coldest I ever remember them being, but I did it. To ensure I would lift, I intentionally took it easy:

Goblet Squats: 5 x BW, 16k, 24k, 32k
Kettlebell Squats: 5 x 16k's, 16k's, 16k's, 16k's
Romanian Deadlifts: 5 x 95, 165, 165, 165
Turkish Get Ups: 1/1 x 16k, 16k, 16k, 16k
Renegade Rows: 5/5 x 16k's, 16k's, 16k's, 16k's
One Arm Press: 5/5 x 16k, 16k, 16k, 16k

I'll worry about adding weight and sets next time. For now I am happy to get back in a groove.

The GripFAQ.com updates are going very well. Since my last entry I have:

1. Converted the website to run on the .NET 2.0 framework
2. Standardized how lists are displayed across the website in all entries
3. Added pictures to all but 5 entries
4. Added around a half dozen new entries, mostly under supporting grip
5. Revised language and spacing in a few existing entries
6. Updated the admin tool to display nicely in Firefox and tested it as fully compatible
7. Sorted through the videos I took last weekend, paring them down to the ones that are worth posting

Now that I am back at work, progress will slow considerably, but I am happy with what was achieved over my vacation. The site has given me the momentum needed to get up to speed on .NET 2.0, which is something that has been in my queue for about a year.