Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Advice: It doesn't have to be that complicated

I was in the gym yesterday and was approached by someone asking various questions, from the age-old "how to lose some weight?" and "how to make" this or that "bigger?".  So one question that stuck in my mind was "How do I make my shoulders look wider?".  The simple and honest truth is, you can't make them "look" wider, you have to make them "be" wider.

At the time, this guy was using the squat rack, albeit the wrong way round, given he couldn't see where to rack the bar with his back to the rack.  After pointing out that he is likely to get squashed under the bar if he falls forward and foul of the rack arms, he realised why the mirror is the other side of the rack; not for posing, but so you can see what you are doing with the bar.  Obviously fairly new to this, I adjusted my response accordingly, though I may have sounded a little patronising:
"If you want to make your shoulders wider, you need to regularly perform the shoulder press."
He questioned it as if I wasn't revealing some secret formula to building shoulders.  But I explained that there is nothing untoward about body building.  You just need time, patience and consistency.  Pick an exercise and stick with it until you see progress decline.  When this happens, change it.  When it happens again, change it back to what you were doing before or change it again.  Variation is sometimes all that is needed to overcome a plateau.

I think more often, people are under the impression that you can transform your body over night.  I even see some guys who believe in this ideology so profusely that they think they have actually transformed their bodies in a few months, when all they have actually done is increased their body fat percentage through eating too much weight gaining supplements.  I wouldn't mind, except they strut around the gym with their chest puffed out and traps poised like their lats are too big to stand with their posture otherwise, throwing weights on the floor to make some kind of statement (what is it by the way, I haven't actually figured this out?).  These people identify themselves when they pick up 25 kg dumbbells and shout "encouraging" words at each other when they get to their sixth and final rep, before throwing the weights on the floor in the most irritating and cumbersome way possible.  Well done, you deserve a pat on the back!

The truth is, these things take time.  Don't expect to see results overnight and don't be consumed by what you read in magazines or on the internet; especially not from someone who is kindly taking your money for advice.  If you think about it, magazine publishers and personal trainers aren't going to tell you how simple it is to actually achieve your goals, because then you wouldn't buy their magazines or pay extortionate rates for them to tell you how important it is that you use a bosu ball, balancing on one foot, performing bent over rows in order to build "the shoulders you have always wanted".  Maybe I am wrong; maybe people want to balance on a one foot stood on a bosu ball, believing this is the best way to build their shoulders.  Maybe the magazines are just a front for an undercover ring of one legged bosu ball shoulder press experts?  If so, I'll stick to what I am doing and what I know works and mind my own business.

My one piece of advice that covers pretty much any muscle group is: Keep it simple.  That's it.  If you want to know how to build a particular muscle, just stand in the mirror and identify ways of flexing that muscle as part of a compound or in isolation.  There will be many ways you can flex a muscle, but you need to identify what works best for you!  Generally, everything boils down to three basic principles, since these principles are pretty much all that the body is mechanically capable of:

  • Pushing / Pressing
  • Pulling
  • Twisting
You can apply these principles to any part of the body and use the principles to formulate exercises to work selective or collective muscles.  But one thing for sure is, you will not invent anything new!  There is already a well established collection of simple exercises out there that have stood the test of time.  Eventually, everything leads back to these basic exercises and eventually everybody realises, that because something is so simple, does not make it ineffective.

So, if you want to build your shoulders.  I urge you to stop trying to discover the best way to build your shoulders or the most obscure way to build your shoulders.  Instead, just go an pick up some dumbbells and start pressing them above your head.  Before long you will need heavier dumbbells or will be performing more repetitions.  This is an indication what you are doing is working, so stick with it.  

Again, if you want to build your chest, perform push-ups.  When push-ups are too easy, use dumbbells.  I never advocate barbells, simply because they are not necessary and add an element of danger when trying to lift to failure.  Dumbbells can be dropped on the floor if your spotter is rubbish.  Better still, holding one dumbbell means you can spot yourself with your other hand, then switch sides.  

Make sure you do pull-ups.  Start by lying under a squat rack.  Keep your feet on the floor and pull your chest towards the bar.  The more upright you stand, the easier it is, so start fairly upright and gradually become more horizontal over time.  Eventually you will have enough strength to muster a real pull-up.  Once there, do those to failure.  When that's too easy, you will be at a stage where you will be able to figure out what to do next.

Do dead lifts and squats.  These are all important compound exercises that will help you build strength all over.  It will help you become more stable and more confident with weight.  As a minimum, perform leg presses regularly.

Don't get caught up on what you can see in the mirror.  Exercising those T-Shirt muscles will have you looking weird from angles you can't see yourself from in the mirror.  Your posture will end up wrong and you will most likely end up with an injury years down the line.  Instead, keep everything balanced.  If you work your chest, work your back next time.  If you pull, push in the opposite direction.  Work your legs!!  There is nothing worse that the guy with an enormous upper body and stick thing sparrow legs.  It looks ridiculous.  If your legs are behind, work them twice as often as the rest of your body.  Let them catch up.

If you don't like a particular exercise because it's too difficult or doesn't massage your ego enough, then that's all the more reason to do it.  Usually if something is hard, there is a reason.  That reason will be that your are not as strong as your thought you were.  Stop doing those easy exercises and concentrate on something harder, something more challenging.

Hmm.  I have rambled on with this way beyond my original expectations.  But this has been rather medicinal to me, firstly venting my frustration at mistakes I see all the time and secondly writing down some of the truths I have to regurgitate on a regular basis.  But if you got this far and found it hit a nerve or you found it enlightened you somehow, then I hope it helps you on your journey.  If you still believe there is magic in bosu ball balancing that will build you mystical muscle mass and super powers, you go for it, don't let me or anyone else stand in the way of your progress!  In the words of Mr and Mr Hodge, this is all just advice.  It's advice based on my own personal experiences and challenges I have faced.  If you follow it, good for you. If you choose not to, good for you.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Words of wisdom from Elliot Hulse

Yesterday I posted an entry about the Hodge Twins and essentially to treat what they preach as semantics for a well formed and well balanced lifestyle or body building programme, instead of treating their advices as schematics.  There are no such "schematics" for producing good results.  Yes, if you are new to this, then pretty much just about anything will work in the early phases of your development.  But as you progress, it gets harder.  You must contest your own body's flaws, limitations and barriers, that will be unique to you.  It is at this point you will struggle to find results in what served you for so long.  You will be craving something to produce those short term results you once saw.  A blueprint of some kind that you can follow to the letter and build muscle fast, get strong fast or get conditioned fast.  Unfortunately, although some may lead you to believe, there is no such thing.  The only things that will help you achieve your goals are:

  • Commitment
    • You must stay committed to your programme.
  • Patience
    • Lack of patience will have you questioning your goals and your programme.  You won't notice change overnight.  When experimenting with something new, give it a few months.  Be patient!
  • Experience
    • You need to try things for yourself.  Don't take someone's word for it that a given exercise will or will not work.  Create your own programme to experiment with it.  Prove or disprove if it works for you or not.  But least of all, don't consider that someone is wrong if it doesn't work in your favour; what works for you, may not work for them and vice versa.
Shortly after posting, I was trawling through my YouTube subscriptions and came across a video from Elliot Hulse; someone who I deem to be a valued professional, given he reads real material, and also someone who practices what they preach.  Whilst we both share very different goals, our approach is very similar...

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Hodge Twins - A.K.A. Twin Muscle Workout

I came across these guys quite some time ago now and shared their YouTube channel with a few friends, who found them equally entertaining.  Until now, I don't think I have ever mentioned them on this blog, so perhaps it's a good time to share.  They have a few channels now, but the channel I primarily focus on is their body building channel.  Whilst I don't agree with everything they preach, I do like the fact they are honest about what they say being their opinion based on their own life experiences.  I can relate to this and often find myself in a position whereby people question my motives, regime or diet, trying to apply what works for me to their own lifestyle.  This will not work.  Not only am I genetically unique compared to anyone else I know, my daily routine and habits also differ, meaning I have a completely different resting metabolic rate.  Take my dad for example.  Genetically we are the same or at least extremely similar.  But we both have jobs at different ends of the spectrum.  I am desk bound for 70% of my day, doing my full time occupation.  But for 20% of it, I am pushing myself hard to keep up with those that can cruise throughout the day at a constant consistent pace.  The other 10% is spent running at a moderate pace, being a father and husband.  My dad on the other hand, is on his feet 80% of his day, doing a very manual job.  The extra physical exertion he experiences from day to day would mean, anything I find works for me may not work for him.  I also have no idea what his sleeping patterns are.  Energy levels fluctuate throughout the day, with most peoples optimal energy output being between 4pm and 6pm.  However, I am not most people and since I wake at 5am every morning and commute 60 miles to work, my 4pm actually arrives a lot sooner at around 12pm.  So between 12pm and 2pm, I am energetically at my optimum; the best time to smash the gym!  Everybody leads a different lifestyle, be it hobby or habit.  You can question what I do, when I do it and how I go about it, but don't think you can contest it.  I am content with my approach and I find my approach works for me.  If you have something that works too, great!  That means you have found something that works for you.  But you haven't found a secret formula, nor a magical blueprint as you might lead yourself to believe.  You have simply discovered the unique formula and blueprint that was made to work for you and you alone, and one that easily fits your lifestyle.

With this in mind, watch and enjoy the Hodge Twins, but don't take what they say as the definitive.  They are merely two very funny and very talented individuals who are sharing their experiences through their body building journey.  Of course, experiment and try some, if not all of the techniques they are sharing.  But don't allow yourself to be consumed by their success with the belief that your own success can follow, if you mimic everything they do.

This is one of my favourites, but if you can, find the link to their channel and find yourself your own favourite...

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Back and biceps routine

This is the routine I have been following for the past eight or nine weeks.  It is time to change it, so before I do, I thought I'd log this one.  Details of weights / sets are in the video description.  I finished with some roll outs, which I have been working on intermittently for the past few months.  My last video to include this exercise shows that I was not getting my body close enough to the floor.  Now I am happy with the proximity to the floor and just need to focus on extension of my arms, trying to avoid bending them at the elbow.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Obscure lifting injury

For the past nine weeks or so, I have had to put up with an unconventional injury I acquired whilst lifting.  It's not the conventional injury you'd associate with lifting, which would typically be some sort of strain, torn ligament or muscle.  This is in fact oral and was the result of biting my lip!  Typically, you'd get an ulcer, it would heal and that would be that.  But in my case, it healed but then came back and persisted as such, repeatedly healing and coming back.  I have now since been to a consultant who specialises in such things and has diagnosed it as a Mucocele.  Typically these things will heal themselves, but when they have persisted beyond three weeks or so, surgery is inevitably required to remove the gland.

Here is an article on Mucoceles:

Hopefully I will get an appointment to have the faulty gland removed and that will be that.  There are some risks associated with the removal, but really, I am not that worried given how annoying this thing is and how painful it gets when swollen.  My advice is to avoid biting your lip when you lift and of course when eating.  If you are struggling not to, it might be worth investing in a mouth guard and wearing it to stop you from lip biting.

Might I add that this is generally only an issue when lifting heavy, since it's the strain associated with lifting heavy that can make you do irrational things, such as biting your lip!

If all that wasn't enough to put you off your tea, here is a photo of my Mucocele.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Update: 8th Sept

Have been using the jump rope as a warm-up / cool-down routine for the past two years now. I only spend between 10 and 15 minutes a day, excluding weekends, practising different techniques. For the past four or five months, I have been able to incorporate side swings (see them here if interested, I won't embed this one: ). However, I have been eluded by double-under to running in place to double-under transitions for a while now, so these are my next skills to acquire on the rope. A few days ago, I managed a rather scruffy looking set of transitions, so it's a start. Definitely need to panic less when making the switch, then I think I will maintain a smoother rhythm. Skip to around the 2 minute mark to see where I got a good set of transitions in.

I haven't done a video of my usual training programme for a while, so I made a small montage of Weds leg workout. I failed on the 200kg deadlift at the end after hitting 190kg, so maybe next time! I have put the info for weight, sets and reps in the video description if you are interested. Oh, it's probably worth mentioning that it is a strength building programme that incorporates body building protocols, if you are wondering why the rep range is so high.

Monday, 23 July 2012

BBC News: Reducing salt 'would cut cancer'

BBC News: Reducing salt 'would cut cancer'

I do my best to avoid consuming salt, for other reasons than those highlighted here, but if you are a consumer of heavily processed food, then you are fighting an ever losing battle.  Retailers are the least consistent when it comes to labelling of food, sometimes labelling quantities per 35g serving, other times per 100g.  Interestingly, they also often have diluted ideas about what constitutes a portion size, so often you will buy something that looks to be low in salt, because you bought it on the presumption that it would be consumed as one serving, but in actual fact, the retailer has labelled the serving size to be a quarter of the contents, and thus there is actually four times the amount of salt than you first thought.

My advice, steer away from processed foods entirely.  It's okay to eat processed food occasionally, like a pizza once a month, but don't make it a weekly habit to consume salty food, especially Monday to Friday.  You should treat the working week as a time to abstinence from luxury foods and alcohol.  Doing this alone, cuts the amount you consume in a year when you think about how many weeks there are in a year.  As much as you might feel that this is a restraint on your liberty, actually the opposite is in effect.  Retailers lead you to believe that it is your desire and an expression your liberty and free will to consume junk food, when in actual fact, you are playing into their hands making them millions in profits through sales of cheap, easy to produce, crap.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Athletic greens

You can buy it in the powdered form, but this is fresh. A while bag of spinach, 2 kiwi fruit, milk, basil and a dash of lemon.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Nutrition: BCAA powder mixing issues

I have read and heard a lot of people complaining about this stuff, saying it doesn't mix well, tastes awful, etcetera, etcetera.  Well, though I can't do much about the taste, if you really can't bear drinking or eating something you don't like, hide your BCAA down the back of the dining room wall unit, along with the broccoli you hid from your parents when you were a child.  But, if you can man up to the expectation that generally things that taste bad are actually good for you, then here is a simple tip that will change your opinion about its ability to mix well with liquids...

  • Place 5g or 10g of BCAA powder in a cup or glass.
  • Add water.
  • Wait for ten or so minutes, viola!

I have found BCAA powder to have the same solubility of salt or sugar in water.  Though less dense than sugar or water, hence why it floats like sawdust, it still dissolves completely given enough time.  You don't even have to stir it, since it will dissolve all by itself, as is the nature of soluble substances.  The taste is still as grim as always, so don't expect the foul taste to have disappeared just because you can't see it any more.

I hope now, you will drink it and STFU! ;-)

Post 10 week program summary

As I have mentioned in a few previous blogs, I have started incorporating body building protocols in order to experiment with fat loss and mass gaining.  For athletes, too much emphasis on body building as opposed to strength building can have dire consequences, often leading to impingement or injury.  Since my previous protocols have always been about strength rather than size, I was a little apprehensive about switching to something more muscle development oriented, with less emphasis on nervous system development.  So to try and maintain some level of functional strength, I have applied a 50/50 split of compound and isolation, applying body building protocols in both cases.

So what do I mean when I talk about protocols?  Well, think of body building and what the aim of body building is.  If you thought the aim of body building is to build muscle then you are right.  In essence, the real aim is to cause as much damage to your muscle fibres as possible, in order to promote growth and repair when resting, without injuring yourself of course.  With goals like this, it's inevitable that you will be sore the day after if not suffer an onset of DoMS the day after that.  However, with strength training, the aim is to gradually build strength, by training your nervous system to activate more muscle tissue, with the side effect of building muscle at the same time.

Strength Protocols
Strength training has the disadvantage of being a slow mechanism for building muscle, while being extremely effective at developing the nervous system.  Because strength typically involves more weight and fewer repetitions, soreness is often less noticeable, enabling an athlete to train every working day of the week and even multiple times a day; I have been there, training as much as eight times a week, twice a day on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, whilst resting Wednesday and on weekends.  During this program, which lasted for about six months, my strength gains were enormous, even though I didn't actually gain that much actual lean mass.  However, the nervous system is much quicker to adapt to changes than muscle tissue, meaning loss of strength over time is more costly than loss of mass over the same period.

Body Building Protocols
Body building is the natural opposite to strength training.  Whilst both are focused on a similar goal, in that you want to maximise your potential in terms of strength and size, body building focuses on the aspects of weight lifting that will ultimately result in more muscle mass and definition than practical strength.  For example, you will rarely see a body builder whose nervous system is adapted enough to allow them to lift atlas stones or perform other feats associated with power and strength.  What they are however, are masters of being able to recruit individual muscles on demand, rather than collectively, hence why they are extremely good at flexing pectoral muscles.  The protocol that enables this is isolation and frequency.  Muscles are trained to failure on each set, sometimes even past failure when performing X reps or drop sets.  Typically, the repetitions would be moderate to high, with fewer sets and less overall volume.  That's not to say one protocol is better than the other, they merely have two different goals.

My Protocol
So what have I put together?  I have incorporated a moderate repetition program that takes each set to failure, while still incorporating specialist compound movements, like dead lifts, roll-outs, snatches, cleans and squats.  Body builders would usually favour leg press machines over squats, since it isolates the legs, requiring less stabilisation and engagement from the upper body.  By maintaining some compound movements in the program, the hope is that the nervous system will maintain familiarity in recruiting muscle groups collectively rather than individually, which will ultimately mean I will still be able to continue the enjoyment of strength related lifts on non program specific days.  However, this is experimental, so only time will tell.

My Program Results
So ten weeks has now gone by in the blink of an eye, and I feel it's time to share some of the results before I start my next ten week strength/body building program.  The figures for the body composition are not accurate in the slightest, but they are consistent.  I used a set of scales that employs BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis) to calculate body fat percentages.  The scales are cheap and this method of body fat calculation is poor in even the best scales, so I just had to run with it.  The percentage is out by about 10%, though the thing about these scales is that they are consistent.  So although the fat percentage is wrong, it will hover around that same area allowing me to plot changes in body composition.  For the next ten week program, I will look at obtaining some callipers and measuring body composition properly.

Start of program
Weight: 82.7 kg
Body fat: 21.25 kg
Lean mass: 61.45 kg

End of program
Weight: 84 kg
Body fat: 22.18 kg
Lean mass: 61.82 kg

Weight: 1.3 kg
Body fat: 930 g (32 oz)
Lean mass: 370 g (13 oz)

Though I gained some fat, about a kg according to the scales, though in reality this is probably more like 500g based on the good old reliable finger calliper test, there was actually an extraordinary amount of muscle tissue gained.  In a year, if this consistency is maintained, would equate to a gain of nearly 2 kg of lean mass. Impressive!

Since I am able to maintain my body fat quite well through intermittent fasting protocols, it wouldn't take much to shed the excess weight gained at the end of the next ten week program, repeating the process every twenty weeks for maintenance.

How it all looks:
As you can see from the charts, there was a definite steady increase in mass, if you ignore the fluctuations from the inclusion of non reference day weigh-ins.  At the same time, my body fat didn't really increase all that much, even though there was some peculiar spike mid way through.  Again, I can only attribute this to the BIA calculations being sensitive to other factors like humidity or my hydration levels.

Lean mass chart:

Fat chart:

My Program
So what did I do for the last ten weeks?  Here it is:

Dumb bell bench press: 3 x 8-12 to failure
Shoulder press: 3 x 8-12 to failure
Dips: 3 x 8-12 to failure
Finisher: Push ups to failure

Light jump rope work, conditioning finisher and stretching

Dead lift: 3 x 8-12 to failure week 1,3,5,7,9; 3 x 15-18 to failure week 2,4,6,8,10
Leg press: 3 x 20-25 to failure
Hamstring extensions: 3 x 15-20 to failure
Finisher: Lunges to failure

Light jump rope work, stretching

Lat pull downs/pull ups: 3 x 8-12 to failure
Seated biceps curls: 3 x 8-12 to failure
Seated rows: 3 x 8-12 to failure
Finisher: EZ bar cheat curls 3 x 8-12 to failure

Weekend: Rest

The dead lift followed a weight reduction repetition increase on even weeks to maintain strength endurance.  Also, I found the strictness required for the body building protocol meant I had to move away from pull-ups for lat pull downs, until I was able to increase the weight to beyond body weight; which was difficult given that my weight was increasing at the same sort of rate.

Onwards an upwards for the next ten weeks, incorporating some changes to the program...

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Food: Prawn and pork paella (50g protein)

This makes enough for two portions.  Cooking time approx 45 mins. Protein (50g per serving).

250g cooked frozen jumbo prawns (40g protein)
1 x red pepper
1 x yellow pepper
1 x Courgette
1 x aubergine
1 x red onion
400g chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup of peas
1 cup brown rice
1/2 bag of fresh spinach
2 x pork loin steaks (30g protein each, 60g total)
Smoked paprika
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
Extra virgin olive oil
Olive oil

Put the brown rice on to boil.

Chop all of the veg into fairly big chunks and place it into a very large saucepan or frying pan, along with the spinach.  Add enough extra virgin olive oil to coat, cover in lots of paprika (to taste) and cook on a medium heat.  Stir frequently.

Dice the pork into small cubes. Put a couple of good glugs of olive oil into a small frying pan with 2 to 3 teaspoons of smoked paprika and a pinch of ground fennel seeds.  As the pork and coat well before placing on a medium to high heat.  Cook until brown, then spoon the pork pieces into the pan containing the veg, leaving the oil behind.  Add the chopped tomatoes to the mix and stir well.

When the rice is done, drain and add to the pan containing the veg and pork.  Mix well.

Add the frozen prawns. These should be pre cooked, do the just need to be heated, so will not require much coming time.

Once the prawns are fully defrosted and hot throughout, remove from heat and serve.

If you want more protein per serving, add another pork loin steak.  Pork loins are extremely high in protein, low in fat and are fairly inexpensive.  You can usually pick up a pack of 6 loins for under £5 or $8.

The ingredients listed above are half the amounts purchased.  The veg usually comes in packs that mean you can get 4 servings out of the purchase, making the cost per meal about £3 or $4.50 thereabouts.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Food: New quick quark recipe (55g protein)

1 x sweet potato
250g quark
1 x red onion chopped
120g salmon trimmings
1 x teaspoon of horse radish
Crushed black pepper
Microwave the sweet potato on full power for 10 mins. While that is cooking, chop the onion. Put the onion, horse radish, quark, salmon and black pepper into a bowl and mix until even. When the sweet potato is done, arrange everything on a plate and eat. Viola!
I had half eaten the dish in the photo.
There's roughly 55g protein in this dish.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Nutrition: Insulin sensitivity

I recently came across the following video on YouTube, from one of the many fitness guru's that post their videos on YouTube.  In the video, the presenter talks about the effects of high intake of carbohydrates versus low intake of carbohydrates.  While much of what is discussed is factually correct and is actually a useful source of information on the topic, there is an element of untruth surrounding the topic of insulin sensitivity at around the 2 minute mark.  The presenter describes insulin sensitivity with relation to consumption of carbohydrates as follows:
The gentleman that eats the pasta and feels very energetic, most likely has good insulin sensitivity.  The gentleman that eats the pasta and feels like he has to go to sleep, most likely does not.
Video in question

While true, that you can use sugar consumption and the body's reaction as a benchmark for insulin sensitivity, the untruth is in the order of the statements.  Since the vast majority of healthy people exhibit tiredness after eating carbohydrates, this statement suggests that it is abnormal or those healthy people are exhibiting signs of insulin insensitivity; or type II diabetes as described by our presenter.  Don't fear, feeling tired after eating "a big bowl of pasta" is a perfectly normal hormonal response to an increase in blood sugar.  Let me explain why...

This is an essential amino-acid that cannot be synthesised by the body and thus must be obtained through food. The significance of this amino-acid in relation to this topic, is that this particular amino-acid is used by the brain in order to produce the neurotransmitter, serotonin.  If you are thinking that serotonin sounds familiar, then that's because you may have heard it used to describe tiredness; we will discuss this in a moment.  tryptophan has to compete against a whole array of other amino-acids in the blood stream, in order to get absorbed by the brain.  Under normal circumstances, these other amino-acids act like a barrier and prevent absorption.  However, if other amino-acid levels are reduced, then concentration of tryptophan increases and thus more tryptophan is able to enter the brain, with the effect of an increase in serotonin production.  Generally, foods rich in carbohydrates are also a primary source of tryptophan.

This is a neurotransmitter that is used by the pineal gland, just below the brain, to secrete a endocrine hormone called melatonin.  The more serotonin released by the brain, the more melatonin that is secreted from the pineal gland.  Let's see what melatonin does...

This is an endocrine hormone that is released into the blood stream to regulate the body's sleep-wake cycle, among a whole host of other antioxidant properties.  It lowers body temperature and causes drowsiness, by suppressing nervous activity to the brain.

Insulin, another hormone secreted by the pancreas, has many functions.  One of its primary functions is to allow liver, muscles and fat-cells to absorb glucose from the blood stream.  It also allows these cells, if required, to absorb amino acids, excluding tryptophan, from the blood and has various anabolic effects.  So what?

The missing links
So how does insulin, tryptophan, serotonin and melatonin relate to this topic?  Well, the answer lies in the effects of insulin on amino acid levels in the blood as opposed to glucose levels.  When the amino acid levels in the blood are reduced, tryptophan is left behind in higher concentration.  This allows tryptophan to enter the brains blood barrier and thus results in the production of serotonin and thus melatonin.  Good insulin sensitivity is in fact indicative of high levels of melatonin and thus lethargy and tiredness after uptake of carbohydrates.  If you feel more energetic having just eaten "a big bowl of pasta", then this would indicate blood glucose saturation and low levels of insulin in the blood: insulin insensitivity.  The density of tryptophan would actually be reduced, even though there is an uptake of tryptophan from the carbohydrates, since the glucose molecules are larger and more prominent than most other molecules in the blood stream.

So lets correct that original statement:
The gentleman that eats the pasta and feels like he has to go to sleep, most likely has good insulin sensitivity.  The gentleman that eats the pasta and feels very energetic, most likely does not.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

WOD: Jump rope side swings/switches

Been practising this technique for a while, maybe a couple of months or so, and finally cracked it yesterday.  Before then, every attempt seemed to look messy or I would end up lashing myself up in the jump rope, whipping myself in the face or throwing the rope across the gym - accidentally of course!  The thing that seemed to help with practising this routine, was to practice the manoeuvre without the rope, visualising foot placement and timing in my head.  This approach seemed to pay off and it all came together very quickly within the past couple of weeks.  I have only been using the rope once or twice a week lately, figuring that less is more when it comes to allowing your brain time to memorise the routine.  Anyway, here's a video of yesterdays session, including some of the less desirable instances, of which includes the rope throwing incident.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Food: Post workout lunch

My usual concoction of kale, veg, beans, sweet potato and eggs had a slight twist today with the addition of some quark!  Quark is a "virtually" fat free cream cheese, which seems to behave like cream cheese in the sense that, when you add it to hot food, it melts.  Awesome!  So I added a whole tub of this to my lunch today, which when you consider that 100g has 13g of protein and 4g of carbs (that's it!), it is a really easy and cheap way to boost the protein content of the meal.  I dropped an egg (6g protein) and added this, giving a combined protein content of approximately 77g.  That is a bit excessive I know, but this is one of two meals I eat in a day, given the intermittent fasting protocol I choose to follow.

Here is a picture of the eggs, veg mix and quark before I combined them.

Here is a picture after I combined the veg and quark; notice the creamy Carbonara look to the whole thing.

If you are wondering how I made it all, I used two microwaves at work to cook the sweet potato, veg and eggs before mixing the quark in straight out of the fridge.  The sweet potato is buried beneath the veg, whole.  Here are the ingredients:

5 x whole eggs [organic] (30g protein, vitamins)
3 x tomatoes (carotene lycopene - a REALLY powerful anti-oxidant)
1 x red onion (sulphur, quercetin - another REALLY powerful anti-oxidant)
1 x yellow bell pepper [organic] (vitamin C, carotene lycopene)
1 x medium sweet potato (complex carbs, vitamins, fibre)
400g Haricot beans [organic in water, drained] (15g protein, fibre, folate)
Kale (Vitamin C)
1 x 250g tub of quark (32 g protein)

This is what I call super-food!!

PB: 40kg (88lb) Bench Press for 14 reps

New personal best for repetitions on this age old simple routine.  I went on to complete another three sets, though progressively fewer reps on each.  I go to failure on everything at the moment, with the regime I am following, so it's fairly difficult to maintain the same repetitions for each set, unless I want to rest for longer and potentially be in the gym for in excess of an hour!

My last effort was 12 repetitions at this weight, so 14 is a good step up.  Though 14 is now too many and I need to grab something heavier.  Unfortunately, dumbbells only go up to 40kg here, so will be looking to find a new gym in coming weeks.  However, I am offloading next week, so there isn't any immediate rush.

Today's workout was as follows:
Dumbbell bench press:
    Set 1:    40kg x 14
    Set 2:    40kg x 9
    Set 3:    40kg x 8
    Set 4:    40kg x 7

Dumbbell Shoulder Press:
    Set 1:    24kg x 11
    Set 2:    24kg x 8
    Set 3:    24kg x 7
    Set 4:    24kg x 6
Weighted Dips:

    Set 1:    40kg x 9
    Set 2:    40kg x 5 + 2 eccentric
    Set 3:    40kg x 4 + 1 eccentric

Push-ups to failure: 30 repetitions

Disappointed with the Dips, had pushed 40kg for 12 a couple of weeks ago, so not sure what's going on there.  Similarly, the shoulder press seems down, so the offloading week next week hasn't arrived too soon.  Up on finisher push-ups though, so pleased with that; this shows chest endurance is improving, despite endurance going into decline with triceps and shoulders.

Friday, 18 May 2012

IF: Post 22 hour fasting meal

Finally!  22 hours on from my last meal and I made it through to the next.  Despite tempting dry roasted peanuts on offer in the cupboard when I got home, I persevered and waited until 6:30.  My meal was a liver, bacon and onion dish with asparagus, courgette and sweet potato; my wife had hers with peas.

So, has it actually done anything?  Well, it's really too early to tell.  I am back to my usual 16/8 rota today, until next Thursday when I may try this 22 hour fast again.  So, as usual, I stopped eating at 8:30 last night and I won't be eating until at least 12:30 today.  Coffee is brewing and gym beckons, so I'll sign out shortly.  But first, I thought I'd video cooking the meal, just so you can see what the portion size is, etc.  Oh, it tasted great by the way!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

IF: Hunger spikes

Not been long since my last blog entry, but just wanted to log this hunger spike I am having right now, namely to make a note of the time but also to help take my mind away from it.  Hunger spikes typically occur about 4 - 5 hours after eating.  Sleep will typically throw this askew, since we would generally sleep for longer; hopefully 7 - 8 hours or more.  I have often wondered how long it would be after the first surge in hormones before the next surge of hormones occurs that makes you get that hunger feeling.  At this point, I am not starving, so the feelings are completely psychological, developed by hormonal changes occurring in my body.  These feelings will gradually subside over the next couple of hours and I will forget I was ever even hungry.  I am expecting to get another hunger surge right before I eat, since the psychological act of cooking will no doubt stimulate a hormonal response again.  According to research, when I eat, my body will overcompensate with growth hormone production, to maximise on nutritional uptake.  This is where some of the benefits to IF are to be made!

Anyway, lets set this as a 14 hour precedent, which means you will experience hunger 14 hours after having eaten your last meal, when fasting through sleep, and 5 hours since awakening.  I woke up at 5 am this morning, as I do every morning, and I was at work by 6:30 am.  I am planning on going to the gym for some last minute rehab (light cardio, stretching), in preparation for tomorrow's lifting programme.

Summary so far (to be continued...):
Eat -> Stop (8:30pm) -> Hunger (10:30am) -> (...) -> Eat (6:30pm)

IF: 22 Hour day

Today is a very sedentary day, with little exercise, so it's perfect to throw in a 22 hour fast.  Essentially, I haven't eaten anything since 8:30 last night, which was some dry roasted peanuts that followed the chilli con carne I made with a smal sweet potato (Meal 2).  Although I only had two meals yesterday, they were substantial and I must have gotten around 160 g of protein and 50 - 60g of carbs, with all the macros from the kale, onions, peppers, beans and whole eggs I consumed.  It is now 9:45 am and I haven't eaten for over 13 hours.  I have another 9 hours before dinner.

I had been supplementing my fasts with whey protein isolate (pretty much pure unflavoured whey), but this is not ideal since it's calorific and thus is technically breaking fast.  Now I have opted for BCAA powder, which is virtually zero calorie and is much smaller doses (5g) compared to the whey (20g).  So all I have consumed this morning is a multi-vitamin tablet, cod-liver oil, black coffee (no sugar), water and my BCAA powder (5g).  I will be dosing up with another 5g of BCAA at about 2pm, and there after it will be just water until about 6pm, when I will hit the food.

When breaking fast, it's important to consume fibrous foods first, to ensure that digestion does not become congested with protein dense food, having been emptied during the fast.  I will be supplementing with ground psyllium husks, to improve my fibre uptake.  Other than that, my fibre intake this evening will come from kale and onions, with my first fasting meal being liver, bacon and onions with sweet potato mash.

Reference Day:
Until now, my reference day has been on a Monday morning, first thing.  I will be moving this to a Friday, since I will be making Thursday a consistent extended-fast day, with every other fast day being 16 hours instead of 22.  In theory, since I consume lots of carbs on the weekend, versus carbs I am consuming during the week, a Friday morning reference day makes more sense.  So tomorrow will be my first point of reference for Friday's, tailing from Monday's reference.  Let's see what fat loss it will show for this week.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

IF: Meal 1

Just a sample fast breaking meal. Fast between 8:30pm and 12:30pm the following day, so 16 hours.

Sweet potato
6 eggs
Red onions
Cannelloni beans
Cajun seasoning
Coconut oil
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh basil

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Lower and Upper Body Conditioning Drills

I have blogged about this workout before, so won't go into too much detail.  If you want to know more, then look through my historic posts for "ICT 4".  This is the first time I have videoed the routine, so just wanted to post the new video.  I have condensed the video into a split screen to make it more interesting and reduce the running time.

Of note, it's worth watching around the 8:06 mark when my son decided to come and get in on the action.  I have no intention of actively encouraging him to participate in the future, since I believe it will be far more effective to allow him to see me exercising and want to participate.  Child psychology works in funny ways, usually when you don't want them to do something, they will do it and vice versa.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Intermittent Fasting or IF

I have seen information on this recirculating the web just recently, and have never really taken much time to share my experience of it.  So better late than never!

I first discovered the principles of IF a few years ago through Bjorn Granum's blog: Muscle and IF.  The idea that you would essentially starve yourself for intermittent periods, either each day or on selected days of the week, seemed to go against all the misinformation I had built up from reading fitness magazines many years prior.  So it was difficult to initially accept the idea and thus I began researching it, finding anything I could about it and how it works or doesn't.  I found a number of sources, but mostly were biased sources with no scientific study.  I had to go on the opinion of body-builders and fitness experts who claimed to use the philosophy and who made huge claims about its success in fat loss or control.

It was in its absolute infancy all those years ago, more so than today.  Because of this, I decided adapt my eating habits to this fasting protocol and test just how good it could be and how detrimental to gaining muscle it might be.  However, my own research was short lived, though I don't really recall why I stopped.  I think I just slowly slipped out of the protocol, since one of the weird things about it, is that it doesn't feel like a fad diet regime that requires constant motivation.  You find after a month or so, it becomes second nature to not eat after a certain time or before a certain time.  You become at one with the feeling of hunger and it almost becomes a challenge to push yourself a little further each day, maybe half an hour or an hour longer before breaking the fast.  It was at this point I think I began to slip out, having conquered various different periods of fasting.  Because the protocol was being followed for so long, I also forgot why I started and totally lost track of my progress.  Looking back, I remember I did get my fat percentage down below anything I had previously been before, while still maintaining all my strength.  The fat loss was extremely visible, so I actually didn't need a set of scales to monitor it.

With the recent surge in IF, it seems there is a lot more information about now than previously.  One I would recommend is this article by John Berardi.  For the first time, someone qualified to put a scientific face on the idea has taken up the philosophy and applied himself to the IF protocol over a six month period to test its impact.  There is also a downloadable e-book on the research.

I don't want to regurgitate or plagiarize this or any other new information on IF, so I will end here.  But before I sign off, I will say is that there is no substitute for trying something like this yourself and building your own conclusions.  Like everything, what works for me may not work for you. Try it yourself, write about it and share your story.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

WOD: Magic 50

Actually, I have two workouts of the day.  Originally, I opted for a variation on Ross Enamait's Enhanced Interval Training 1 (EIT 1) routine.  I had to quite heavily modify it, since I didn't want to be reworking my legs again with the squats in it, coupled with limitations on space where I train for sprinting.  Ideally, EIT routines are better served outside than in, but the weather here is really poor at the moment.  Anyway, due to the modifications, EIT 1.1 has actually been kicked to the curb by the Integrated Circuit Training (ICT) routine: The Magic 50.  But if you're still interested in the EIT variation, then that's listed below also.

Magic 50:

My time: 12 minutes dead it would seem.

My EIT 1 variation, dubbed "EIT 1.1":

6 Pull-ups
12 Burpees
24 Push-ups
100 Sprinting in place jump rope turns

Complete this 4 times with no designated rest, as fast as possible.

Alternatively, I might up the 100 rope turns with 100 double-unders.  Adjust as you see fit.

Monday, 7 May 2012

WOD: Jumping 550

Tonight, after a long day with the kids, I still had some unspent energy left, so put the last 10 minutes of daylight to work with this little circuit.  My aim was to get warmed up and complete it before the sun set fully, so I had roughly 15 minutes.  I began with a little warm-up on the rope, which I have omitted from the video.

I haven't seen this workout anywhere though I am pretty sure I am not the first to have conceived the idea.  But I will dub this workout the "Jumping 550" anyway.  It's designed as a short circuit to be completed in under 10 minutes, comprising of five circuits of 100 rope turns and 10 burpees, hence 550.  By the end of the workout, you will have completed 50 burpees and 500 rope turns as fast as possible and with as little rest as possible.  I strived for no rest, but still found myself struggling for breath in the thin air after three rounds of burpees.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Bruce lee ping pong / table tennis

I came across this on Facebook recently and was blown away.  It's the first time I have seen this footage, so will definitely be watching the recent BL documentary.  Legend: Bruce Lee.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Dynamic 2/3 day splits

At the moment I am working on a three day split that can be broken down to Push, Leg and Pull.  I have completed one cycle with last week as my first off-loading week for the program.  I intend to complete 2 cycles before changing it up slightly, with different routines.  Off-loading week is fully focused on strength endurance and conditioning, helping to maintain good stamina and CV.  The three day split is all body-building style work, going to failure on each set, with every fourth week before the off-loading week, introducing drop-set pyramids to really finish me off.  Some of this is DC style, while the rest is pure age-old simple man versus iron.

This week is worth mentioning, since it has been a diversion from the 3 day split, forcing an unusual 2 day split integrating some of day 1 into day 2 and 3.  This is due to holiday time and no access to heavy equipment.  So Weds saw just over an hour of work, with today comprising of an equal amount of volume.  Yesterday was a mini conditioning drill, with 10 minutes of burpees pull-ups, some light jump rope conditioning and stretching.  Today now has me finished for the weekend, with another Monday miss due to bank holiday next week and fathering duties.  So next week will see another 2 day split across Tues, Weds and Thurs, with Friday off to attend a wedding.  Busy times!

What I am really trying to express here though, is that it is still possible to complete the muscle building volume for the entire week in two days by dropping some conditioning.  The conditioning can be picked up at the weekends if really necessary.

The 3 day split:


  • Dumbbell bench press
  • Shoulder press
  • Standing roll-outs
  • Weighted dips
  • One-arm triceps extensions
  • Push-up finisher: 1 set to failure


  • Deadlift
  • Leg press
  • Glute-ham extensions
  • Bodyweight squats finisher: 1 set to failure


  • Lat pull-downs
  • Incline biceps curls
  • Seated row
  • EZ curl
  • Chin-up finisher: 1 set to failure

The 2 day split:


  • Deadlift
  • Leg press
  • Glute-ham extensions
  • Dumbbell bench press
  • Shoulder press
  • Toes to the bar finisher: 1 set to failure


  • Lat pull-downs
  • Incline biceps curls
  • Seated row
  • EZ curl
  • Weighted dips
  • One-arm triceps extensions

Thursday, 3 May 2012

WOD: 50 Burpees Pull-ups

This workout is done for time.  No designated rest intervals, though I have found breaking it up into five repetition sets with a tabata style rest interval works well.  Five repetitions takes me roughly 20 seconds, with 25 to 30 seconds rest before the next set.  Optimally, I should be looking to achieve 20 seconds work versus 10 seconds rest; this will see an overall time under 5 minutes.  This is fairly realistic given 50 burpees can be achieved in 2 and a half minutes without stopping.

If this is too easy, then simply increase the volume to 100 burpees instead of 50.

My time:

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

160 kg (350 lbs) deadlift - new PB

A new personal best for me.  Previous PB for deadlift was 150 kg for 7 reps.  I will be lightening for endurance next week, so will see in two weeks if I have made any headway with my volume for this one.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

WOD: Never Gymless ICT 4

This workout is a classic from Ross Enamait's Never Gymless.  It is basically two routines combined to form a lower body and upper body routine.  Each routine is split into 3 exercises, completed 5 times for time:

Lower Body:
10 x Burpees
20 x Lunges
30 x Squats

Upper Body:
10 x Pull-ups
20 x Power overs
10 x High pulls

The correct way to perform the high pulls is using a resistance band, but I don't have one available to me, so instead opted for a 30kg barbell high pull.  Pull ups are strict, not kipping, so if you can't complete them on the second set, I have found the cheat pull-ups effective.  If you don't know what a cheat pull-up is, see below.

Notes: I performed the first set of pull-ups in strict form, then used cheat pull-ups for each pull-up in each set there after.

My Times:
Lower body: 13:10
Upper body: 10:58

If I recall the last time I did this, my lower body was at least 15 minutes and upper body went into 16 minutes.  This is a massive improvement, considering I haven't done any conditioning for the last four weeks.

Cheat Pull-up
To perform a cheat pull-up, you need to stand beneath the bar and jump into the pull-up, grabbing onto the bar and pulling yourself up.  Then you lower yourself slowly, to full extension and drop.  You can opt to perform as many strict pull-ups as you are capable before letting go of the bar and jumping into the next pull-up.  The idea is to eliminate idle resting, while you wait for your arms to recover, instead forcing them to work by assisting them on the way up.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Deadlift burpees

Found this great routine on YouTube. This I'd the first time I have tried it, so I want sure what to expect. Next time I may consider dropping the weight to reduce rest time and increase the level of intensity.
Watch "100 kg deadlift burpees" on YouTube

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Nutrition Advice

Some of you may recall a past blog entry: Eating big.  This entry dates back to 2009 and is pretty primitive in terms of content, obsessive over the accumulative of calories instead of the quality of the calories.  As we progress through life, we learn things, as I have since that post.  Now, a few of the blogs I follow recently seem to be once again inundated with questions about "What do you eat?".  Many years ago, I had the same questions in mind, considering mimicking the diet of someone I aspire to be; surely that's the best way to get results right?  Well, it's a start, but not entirely the right thing to do.  Yes, one important factor if you want to gain strength and mass is to eat well.  By that, I mean that you should consume more calories than you are used to, if you are a slender version of yourself.  For those looking to lose weight, it might be a case of purely substituting the types of calories you eat for ones that are going to make a difference, rather than altering quantity.  For example, swap starchy carbohydrates for slow release carbs and maybe some more protein.

But, here's the thing...  Don't get caught up thinking and planning each meal down to the minuscule calorie and certainly don't think you have to consume meals at specific times.  People get way too caught up on the semantics of dieting that they actually forget the point of it.  Most of the time, your body will tell you what it needs.  If you are feeling lethargic, you have either eaten too many carbs or not enough.  It's not difficult to tell the two apart, since you would have to go days without eating carbs to feel the effects of lethargy.  If you're sore, days after you trained, you either trained too hard (which is actually unlikely) or you didn't eat enough nutrient and protein rich foods.  And yes, I did say nutrient.  It's no good investing in a tub of protein meal supplement, because you would have to eat tonnes of the stuff to get the same benefits that you would from fresh vegetables and fruit.  There is no substitute to fresh fruit and vegetables, so you are not going to grow without them.  Typically, you want the less sweet fruits, like tomatoes, peppers, cucumber.  Apples, bananas and the like are good too, but you don't want to be eating five of those fructose dense fruits if you are trying to stay lean or lose weight!  So to summarise what you should aim to include in your diet:

  • Green super foods (spinach, cabbages like broccoli and kale, peas)
  • Something bright (red/yellow pepper, tomatoes, berries)
  • Sulphurous food (onions, spring onions); good for helping your liver top get rid of toxins.
  • Lean fresh meat (this is a must if you want to grow, see below).
  • Unsalted seeds, nuts (not cashews, they are not really nuts); if you have to go flavoured, keep salt to a minimum and don't eat them every day.
  • Eggs (LOTS and LOTS of eggs).
  • Beans (in water, no added sugar or salt and watch out for preservatives, stabilizers or thickeners).
  • Brown rice, brown pasta, brown bread (only if you have to, I don't each gluten rich foods so I only really eat brown rice now and then).

Now this isn't a recipe.  It's meant as a guide.  You should aim to include something from each of those food groups in each meal, especially from the greens, meats and eggs.  There is nothing wrong with a boiled egg on the side of each meal, maybe even two.  Greens are super important.  They contain lots of anti-oxidants and are nutrient rich, which will aid with the production of testosterone.  There is no point in shoving a load of protein down your neck if you are not supplementing your body with what it needs to produce testosterone.  Testosterone is the key to building muscle.  Without enough of it, your protein will just end up giving you constipation and making you fat; excess protein is converted to fat.  So eat your greens and stop relying on those powdered meal supplements, they don't work, and I am talking through experience.

Meat! (No better protein)

You are going to need this if you want to get bigger.  Yes you may grow a little without it, but there is a limit to how big you can grow without the amino acids and proteins you get from eating meat and fish.  If you're vegetarian and you are thinking "but I get all the protein I need from eating tofu", forget it!  Tofu is derived from soya, a bean that is rich in phytoestrogen.  Yes, you guessed it, it's essentially the same as estrogen.  This hormone is actually what you want less of in your system.  It counteracts testosterone in your system, reducing the effects of testosterone.  If you produce enough estrogen or consume enough of it, you will also start to see some undesired effects, such as breasts, so steer clear of it!

Beans (Good carbs)

These are a prime source of carbs.  Good slow release energy with very low sugar content.  Also rich in fibre and other nutrients, so also worth having with each meal.  If you get the tinned kind, avoid ones with added salt and preservatives.  I go for the beans in water kind, with added calcium chloride as opposed to salt, because that's all that's available to me.  Better still go for fresh beans if you can get them.  Calcium chloride is a thickener added to the water, but is in such small quantities, I personally don't worry about it, especially since I wash the beans until all the fluid they come in, has been rinsed away.

Eggs (protein and nutrient rich)

There has been bad press for eggs in the past, mainly because of their high cholesterol content.  But don't be fooled, the cholesterol in these is actually good for you and will help your body get rid of bad cholesterol.  The yolk is full of masses of nutrients and contains 2g of protein in your average egg, making up a third of the protein content.  The white is nearly all protein, apart from water and some other nutrients, but the white contains no fat, so good if you are purging.  I typically eat anything from 6 to 12 of these a day, depending on how sore my muscles are.  At the end of the day, if you are sore and hungry, then you need to eat something!

Myth: The first hour is the important hour.

Well no, because your body will already have nutrients for building muscle and it will be using testosterone that you replenished the day before.  You don't make testosterone while you are active, well actually you do, but not enough to satisfy demand.  Your body needs rest in order to replace testosterone that has been depleted.  What you eat before you rest is important in the production of testosterone, so don't fill up on crap before bed, if anything, munch on some more greens.  The next day or day after, you will be topped up on testosterone, ready to go at it again.  Of course, make sure you eat soon after you exercise, because your body will at some point need protein and carbohydrates in order to build muscle using the testosterone, but it's not quintessential that you eat it immediately after or during your workout.  Again, don't get caught up on food.  It's important, but it's no so important that you have to obsess and plan your whole life around it.  Eat when you're hungry, fast when you're not.  Enjoy it, don't loath it by continuously eating the same bland crap every day.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Weighted slow muscle-ups

Its been a while since I blogged, prior to my last blog about the rollouts.  Despite having not made an appearance on here or YouTube, I haven't been lounging around as one might assume. :-)  I have been chipping away more patiently than normal, at acquiring new skills.

Recently, I watched this video by Jim Bathurst (BeastSkills) and was inspired to add weight to my acquired slow muscle-up skill.

Here is my feeble attempt:

I have only been able to do the slow form of the movement, as opposed to the 'kip' style, since the beginning of December.  I progressed from a 'kip' muscle-up by simply aiming to perform just one slow muscle up.  Initially I could only achieve one rep and one set; that was it, my shoulders were spent.  But I tried to practice the movement at least two or three times per week.  Within two weeks I could complete three to four sets at one rep.  After that, I aimed to perform more reps per set, increasing my volume to three reps and four to five sets; the last set usually being one or two reps down on the initial set, which is when I know to stop.  Mid January I saw Jim's YouTube video and wondered if I could progress to that immediately.  To my surprise I was able to add weight.  I started with 1.25 kg and added 1.25 kg with every smooth completed rep, until I reached my max of 6.25 kg.  Today, I thought I would video the results for the blog, and annoyingly, after filming I got my PB of 7.5 kg.  I may have a go on Friday and aim for 8.75 kg.  If you haven't seen Jim's awesome video, then I hope that it might inspire you too.  Good luck!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Rollouts without wheels

I thought this might provide people with some ideas on performing rollouts without wheels or sliders. Obviously you need a smooth floor, but socks or a towel is enough. On carpet you could use a food tray or plastic chopping board. Feel free to reply with thoughts or ideas.
Watch "Rollouts without wheels" on YouTube