Sunday, November 28, 2004

10 pounds of Turkey

After that Thanksgiving weekend, I've got about 10 more pounds to hoss (heave and toss) around now. These bodyweight exercises might feel harder for the next week or so, heh heh.

Last Monday was one arm chin work and I got both arms down to 10 pounds of assistance. My left arm is able to pull with 5 lbs of assistance, but I dropped back to 10lbs so each arm would be worked evenly.

Worked several single reps with the one arm chin. Eventually increasing assistance until I was pulling up with 25lbs assistance. Finished with some explosive two arm chins and pulls. Going through the range of motion complete, but fast, seems to help generate more power in my pulls.

The elbows were aching after that workout, onset of tendonitis like I've mentioned before, but a good night's sleep and rest from chins and I'm back to 100% in a day. This stage of training has me stepping right up to the line of overtraining and then knowing when to back down and recuperate. So far, so good. More one arm chin work tonight.

Some planche training yesterday was very good. I used a pair of 15lb dumbbells as floor handles so that my hand were grabbing the db handles, instead of splayed out on the floor. The wrists weren't taking the brunt of training. Worked very well. I'm going to start training that way more often.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Work hard, work smart

"Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect."

- Vince Lombardi

So here are two skills that I'd like to master.

The Front Lever
front lever


The Planche

I'm getting close to the front lever, but the planche is still down the road. Especially one as technically perfect as that one ol' Blaine is showing. Regardless of the difficulty of the skill, or how close I am to performing it, I keep two things in mind. This is to work hard, and to work smart.

You've got to give it your all each time you practice. When you make excuses, you're only letting yourself down. I know it sounds like I'm about to ask you to win one for the gipper, especially after the Lombardi quote, but some need a reminder, or swift kick in the butt to stop slacking.

The second part is equally as important. Working smart.

All the motivation and desire in the world isn't going to get you the strength you're seeking if you go and train incorrectly or inefficiently. It's this reason that research is an important part of my training. Insanity is often defined as performing the same action twice and expecting a different result. So if you're training for a certain skill and don't seem to be progressing, then continuing that training is insane.

Even when I'm progressing nicely on a skill, I'll still research it tirelessly. Each new piece of training information I find may help me train more efficiently. It may give me new and better drills to perform, or give insight into proper muscle application and strength. Even rereading previously gathered material can prove to be helpful. I try to wrap my mind around every detail. This is what some may call obsessive, but I merely call being thorough.

I wrote this entry because working smarter recently paid off. Rereading an article regarding the front lever gave me new, rarely mentioned, insight into the muscle tension in a front lever (and iron cross as well).

And today while researching, I found more information for planche training. I feel like I've been through ever resource out there for planche training, but I was still able to find some helpful information.

Every little bit helps. So give 100% each work out, but work smart to make sure that 100% is not going to waste.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

My Profile Pic

Me upsidedown

Here's a better shot of my profile picture. This is yours truly doing a handstand on two chairs on the grassy mall of UMCP. It was posted in the school newspaper. Very cool.

I'm performing the "illusion" with these two chairs. What this means is if the editor had kept a few more inches at the bottom of the picture, you'd see the front legs of the left chair "floating" in the air. The weight of my left arm is going down through the back of the left (top) chair, into the front legs of the right (bottom) chair. The setup makes the front of the left chair superfluous. I'll post up a clearer picture sometime, instead of confusing everyone with a description. And if I can dig it up, I'll post up a "double illusion". Ooooo Aaaaaa

Yeah, it's no David Copperfield (fortunately), but the most common response from onlookers is "they must be stuck together". Ah, you non-believers.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Grip and Bench

Tested my grip and bench today, two things that have been put on the back burner.

The grip is still strong, as I was still able to close my #2 gripper this morning. I'm thinking of starting another week or two of KTA training and really mastering the gripper. It's perfectly reasonable to believe I can mash the #3 gripper sometime next year and get the title "Captain of Crush". Hell yes, that's going on my resume!!

Of course, once I'm at that point, my old gymnastics coach will have all the more reason to call me "Bearpaws", and my coworker will probably complain even more when I shake his dead fish of a hand. (I'm not squeezing hard! honest!)

Laid down for some sets on the barbell bench press. I've been working the dumbbell press for a good length of time, so I was interested in seeing what the numbers would be under the bar. While I wasn't disappointed, I still see that I've got room for improvement. A double bodyweight bench would be phenominal, certainly a beast skill, but I'll take baby steps back into this one and try to hit around 155% of my bodyweight for the time being.

I was very happy when I was able to work on and improve my weak squat, so I'll be working hard to have the same success with the bench.

Poor sleep last night on account of a company party and visit afterwards to my sister's. Poor nutrition this morning as I ate breakfast on the run, a substandard purchased lunch, and grabbed a quick snack before working out. Not one of the strongest days then, so I'm optimistic to see how the bench feels on a better rested day. Until then, it's research time for a good bench program.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Got CPR certified this past monday! Of course, that's about as hard as handing $40 to a stranger, but regardless it's a step towards my new career in personal training. I'll knock first aid training out in the beginning of December, and then choose which trainer certification(s) I want to study and test for.

On the training front, I worked on the OAP a bit after the CPR cert. I was definitely tired from the previous nights, but still pulled decently. During my squat workout yesterday, I needed to remove some ab slings that were hanging from the power rack chin up bar. How did I get up there and remove the slings??? A small jump with an OAP! Of course the momentum helped me get up part way, but I was cranking for a good portion of the ride upwards. It felt especially good to just stop and lock my arm as I worked with my other hand to undo the caribiner. Damn, now that's some real world strength application!

Seriously, it's only a matter of time now. I just need to keep the old elbows and shoulders healthy. The right arm needs a bit of work in the bottom position and I'll be sure to work some one arm dead hangs with it.

I started thinking of the other skills I'd like to acquire and the various training progressions required for each. This is what was turning in my head:

front lever: The shoulders are coming along well, but I think my weakness is actually my core. I've got to start working on more dragon flags.

one arm handstand: I was playing around with this just yesterday. My progression is coming, but it's going to take some more focused training, just like the....

one arm lever: I mentioned this previously. It'll be a goal in the very near future. If I master the one arm lever and one arm handstand, then we can start talking about the one arm handstand press.... muhahaha.

iron cross: my training has been far too sporadic for this. This, of course is due to availability of rings. Now that I've got my own set and some stretch tubing that should suffice, I'll start back up on this in the winter time. Because I should definitely acquire this skill before the....

planche: This is a "C" skill on rings, so it'll be some time before I see a true planche. Regardless, this is one of my favorite skills and one I train for fairly regularly. I think a focus on my bench press should help on this as well. My bench is a bit lacking, and some extra pushing muscle can't hurt.

flairs: I always thought this was such a hardcore stunt to pull on the floor. My love for the move is probably what drew me to pommel horse in my gymnastic years. I was able to throw some flairs on the mushroom, but always seemed to lack the flexibility for floor flairs (say that 5 times!). Last training go around just left my right wrist aching. So before I go at this again, flexibility will be the first concern.

v-seat: I never had a tremendous want to learn this skill, but I figure since I've had the L-seat for so long, that I should learn the next step in the progression. This will also be another good skill to work for when I working for the flexibility for my flairs.

vertical leaping: I think the time is just about here for another plyometrics program to increase my vertical. I've always had good ups, but I'm looking to dunk a basketball. At 5'8", that's one hell of a skill. I read some old advice that said one should be able to squat double their bodyweight before they start plyometrics. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant at this point, as I passed that mark the other day. That squat is actually what brought the whole idea back into my head.

Too much on the plate!! It's always been a challenge to limit myself. After the OAP, it seems that the one arm lever, one arm handstand, and front lever are the new goals. Of course, the planche will still be there as always. Letting go of that training routine would be like abandoning a child.

I've got to finish this post with a story about the weight room the other day. I was working on squats in the power rack and I see two guys working with 335lbs or so in the rack next to me. Now, with their form and technique, it didn't look like they should be handling that weight at all, but I let people work out the way they want. No one likes a know-it-all. Anyhow, after they're finished, the conversation went something like this:

guy #1: "should we take the weights off now?"
guy #2: "nah, someone else will get them"
both guys walk off.

Both of those guys better count their lucky stars I was coming up and racking weight at the time. By the time I got out from under the weight and turned around, they were gone. Otherwise, I'd have finished the day with a KYA workout - kicking your .. butt.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

El fin de semana

Headed back up to the parents house for my dad's birthday this weekend. Lots of fun the whole time. Even got in some light planche work, in addition to the handstands I randomly throw about the house. No, this is not odd behavior for me ... par for the course, really.

Some swiss ball work before I head to bed tonight, as well as one arm lever work and training experimentation. I seem to be progressing well with the OAL, but don't practice it on a consistent basis to nail it down quicker. I've been too focused on other skills recently, the one arm chin for one.

On that note, there's no quicker way to slowed progress and frustration as trying to train for 100 different skills at once. You'll start crawling at a snail's pace for each one, and rack your brain trying to find time for it all.

Picking just a few strength skills helps one keep focused and stay motivated with quicker accomplished goals. I'm speaking from experience on this one, as I've had to consciously cut down to two or three skills to work on at a time. Anything else is just greedy >:-)

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Getting Back on the Road

Four years I ran in high school
Three seasons per year
Twelve total seasons of running
Yet thanks to certain coaches, I became soured to the whole idea by the time I graduated. I took off the shoes and put them away.

Well, the five year break is over now. I bought myself a pair of running shoes a few weeks ago and have been hitting the road a couple times a week.

Holy crap, I'm out of shape... running shape.

But this will give me better endurance and maybe even drop a pound or two, which is always helpful when you're working for bodyweight feats. And besides, it's always good to strive for good all-round fitness. There's nothing sadder than watch a guy (who can lift a mountain of weights) get winded running a lap on a track.

So I went running tonight and remembered how much I enjoy it. Listening to my rhythmic breathing becomes a form of meditation. I can gather my thoughts or just clear my mind.

It's not the same on a treadmill. When I'm on one, I just feel like I'm keeping up, not actually running. Everything feels too controlled. But out on the road, I control everything. Master of it all.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

5 pounds

I worked the one arm chinup on my home pullup bar tonight. With my cheap assistance set up, I was able to see tonight that I'm only 5 pounds away.

just 5 pounds.... oh man oh man oh man.

Only with my left arm though. The right still needs about 15lbs of assistance. I figure these differences are normal for a skill like this. And a 10 pound differential really isn't much at all. If I was pulling a 30lb differential between arms, then it's time to get outside more. *whistle*

I've been told that as I get closer and closer to the one arm chin, to relax and take it easy to prevent injury. I'm happy to report that I have been taking it slow and careful. The one arm chin is murder on the elbows and shoulders if you perform too many reps. So I've been keeping the rep count very low and giving it plenty of rest. If I feel any throbbing in the elbow (onset of tendonitis) then I give it a solid day or two until it subsides. No problems at all.

On another note, anyone who lifts weights should be working the squat as well. If your knees and back are healthy, then get yourself under the bar. Where I work out, I see too many healthy college kids sit down on the leg press and work with weights I could military press overhead. So kids remember, quit being a baby and do your squats.

I've been working a 20-rep squat routine for the past couple weeks; adding 5 pounds each workout. You can read about THE 20-rep routine in this book Super Squats. I'm embarassed to say I haven't read the book for the exact routine, but I've read more than enough about it to start it up. It involves one set of squats for 20-reps. This will whup your butt. I've heard the book also asks you to drink an inordinate amount of milk. This gives the 20-rep routine its other name, the "Squats and Milk" routine. It's all supposed to add a lot of strength and size. Personally, I wasn't looking to gain 30+ pounds (of fat), so I didn't up my calories substantially, just continued my healty eating.


Working 20 reps works. I loaded some big wheels on the bar and rock bottomed it last night. Felt great. Felt light. After you crank through several workouts of 20-rep squats, a single effort for high weight feels like nothing. I surprised myself.

In the beginning...

I'm starting this blog as a place to record my journey along the path of physical improvement. That's a pretentious way of saying, writing down stuff 'bout weightlifting and stuff. dur dur.

I'll be writing down some of my workouts as I want, as well as thoughts on my training. But oh wait, I want it to be a bit more than that. More specifically, I want to write about my quest for those mythical strength skills.

I'm talking about the "beast skills".

It's those skills that you've read, heard, or perhaps even dreamt about, but never thought they were possible - one arm chin ups, one arm handstands, handstand pushups. . . The things that your grandfather use to do after trudging home 20 miles, waist-deep in snow, with the blazing hot sun overhead. It's those fantastic feats of strength that make people's jaws drop - hence the name, because people will certainly call you a "beast", and I'd wear that as a badge of honor.

And while some who read this may have no interest in my obsessions, maybe the page will get them interested in fitness anyway. I'll take that.

So that's a quick view of what's to come. If I post to this blog on a semi-consistent basis, maybe I'll even start a webpage.