Last Two Weeks Review

This has been a very two busy weeks. I had about fifty things going on, and i think i ended up getting half of them done. So here we go:

Courage
Last week I was in charge of running the 34′ jump tower for some high school JROTC students. The 34′ tower is used to train Paratroopers the basics of exiting an aircraft and their initial actions in the air. All it is is a big zip line really. None of us like doing it, and would rather jump from the real thing. 34′ is high up there.

These students impressed me. Some of them had done this before, but were here to do it again. Even though they had done it before some were visibly shaking before heading up. The thing is, they overcame their fear, and did it anyway. We did not have one student refuse to exit, and some even told us to push them out if they froze because they were not going to walk back down the steps. I have adults that have not shown that kind of courage in the tower.

Ultrasounds
Finally had my ultrasound, and they found a small hernia at my old repair site. I can’t tell you how happy I am. I have a doctors follow up coming up, but right now I will continue to train around it like i did last time, and listen to my body during the big lifts. Squat and dead lift PR’s might be on the back burner for a while.

Despite the hernia, I am still making gains in several of my lifts, but i have begun the shift over to endurance training for the mountains this summer. If the weather we have had so far this spring holds up, it is shaping up to be a great one.

Competitions
I was going to give a shot at a local Strongman competition the middle of May, but it seems to have been cancelled. The event info on the site have been pulled down, and right now the word on the street is it is not happening. I really wanted to give this a try, but everything happens for a reason.

Now the Highland Games this summer are still on. I will not be in the games, but i have entered in two of the extra events they host. I will be giving the farmers carry another go, and this year I will also give the challenge stone throw a shot. Last year i got 5th place in the farmers walk, and with this years preparation I hope to give the state record a serious attempt.

Last year was the first year I got to go to the event, and I’m hooked now. This year, volunteers were needed to help with running the events. The e-mail yesterday has me slated as an assistant judge for the individual events. With this comes a chance to get some hands on experience at their events clinic the week before, and a chance to really see how I need to train in order to compete in the full games next year. I am really pumped up about this chance to learn, and compete.

Remedial Physical Training
I have several individuals that failed their Physical Fitness Test, so i initiated the remedial PT program to help them meet and beat the minimum requires scores. Some of them missed passing by a rep or two on the sit up event, but there are a few that failed miserably on the Run event.

I am keeping tabs on all that happens for the first 30 days of the program, and will post the results from the periodic diagnostic tests we have planned in the every two weeks. With the first week behind us, I am happy to say that there have been a few of the troops that have asked if they could continue to do the additional PT sessions even after they are successful in passing the test. (more on this later)

Leading this program gives me three days of two-a-day workouts. This week is the start of my next training cycle geared to mountains, farmers carry, and strength sessions geared towards Herman Goerner style workouts.

Between office work, field work, jumps, and managing personnel I now have a backlog of posts I need to sort and get out of both my device, and my head.

Hope your spring is going well. Take care and good lifting,

Tim

Advertisements

Gripper Training

Gripper WorkI want to talk a little about grip training, and grippers in particular. There are many ways to do grip specific training that do not require you to buy any equipment whatsoever, but grippers are the “gateway drug” of the grip world so to speak.

No matter what your goals are in working out, improving your grip is a must. Hanging from a pull up bar, dumbbell curls, dead lifts, rows, cleans, carrying luggage or groceries, yard work, closing a deal with a handshake- you name it and your hands are what make it happen. Improving hand strength and health can improve so many facets of your life, its a wonder more people don’t take better care of their hands.

Brooks Kubik talked about it in his book “Dinosaur Training”, and talked about how many don’t focus on grip due to the fact that despite gains in finger/hand strength your not going to get bulging finger muscles and wrists. I believe he is correct in his observations, and that despite all the “functional” training going on today, grip strength still takes a backseat to big “visual” muscle building. Saxon, Inch, Jowett, Goerner, Ashton, The Mighty Atom and many other old time strongmen had tremendous hand strength.

Now everytime you pick the weights up, you do work the grip in some fashion, but to build up the hands specifically, will add a new dimension to your training. On the big heavy lifts, the use of straps will go away. When you grip the bar and squeeze the life out of it to build tension for pressing movements, you will do it more efficiently. And your hands will be capable of controlling more weight longer, with less fatigue.

How to add grip to your training
I suggest using grip work as a finisher, as a seperate workout all together, or on those days where time for a full workout is not there. I don’t recommend using grip work as a pre-exhaustion work except in the case of arm work.

I’ll give ideas for home made equipment, and other exercise in another post, but grippers are a cheap, durable investment that will last you years and many workouts.

What gripper to start with?
I started with the Trainer, and the #1 grippers from “IronMind”. These are the two that 1- let me know that these were not the store bought plastic grippers, and 2- got me hooked on hand strength training. From there I went to the #2, and so on. I have several other brands to help close the gap in difficulty between the #2 and #3, but that comes later.

Basic “setting” and closing (see pictures)
“Setting” the gripper is term used for positioning the gripper in the hand prior to closing it. There are two basic “sets”-

  1. Parallel set- this is where you have the gripper in hand, and have worked the fingers fully around the outer handle. The handles should appear to be parallel to each other or wider. This set will make some of the heavier grippers easier to close due to the shorter range of motion, and the fact that your fingers are around the outer handle.
  2. Credit Card Set- to do this merely get the gripper in hand like you would with the parralel set, but this time you have to allow the handles to open until you are able to fit the width of a credit card between the bottom of the handles before closing ( “IronMind” uses this set as the standard for certifying on their #3 and up. It is alot more difficult of a set, and if your cursed with small hands as i am, you will have to work that much harder to get it closed.)

Both setting techniques have their place in training, just like regular deadlifts, and partial deads.

Closing the gripper
The gripper is considered closed, when the bottoms of the handles touch, without assistance from the other hand or any other part of the body. Pretty simple.

(In the photos, I am parallel setting a Beefbuilder Super Master, credit card setting an IronMind #2, and the close is the finish of the Super Master.)

Let me warn you though, if you let the grip bug bite, its had to get rid of. I have been working grip now for 6+ years, and even if I neglect it for a time, I still have the itch. There is a whole other world of strength feats out there to enjoy.

Below are some links to check out. I am not affiliated with them in any way except as a customer.

“IronMind”
http://www.ironmind.com
This is an outstanding company. Their line of grippers, Captains of Crush, are top notch, and the companies delivery and customer service are awesome.

This is by far the best video on setting a gripper. If you are not familiar with http://www.dieselcrew.com, I highly recommend you check them out.
http://www.dieselcrew.com/how-to-set-a-gripper-3

Till next time, take care and good lifting,

Tim

A change of pace for the last 2 days

Friday:Friday was a lite workout and focused on explosive whole body movements. I kept it low intensity with plenty of water breaks.

  1. 10 minutes of kb snatches with the 24kg. I did 10 a minute (5 each arm). My body was definitely a little stiff from the day before.
  2. 5 rounds of 5 reps of:
  • Burpee pull ups
  • Burpee broad jumps

The “burpee pull ups are nothing new to my workouts, but the “burpee broad jumps” are. They are about as simple as they sound: do a burpee, but instead of just jumping, you do a broad jump as far forward as possible. When you land you start the next burpee. Starting at the end of a basketball court, i was able to make it 5-6 feet past half court 3 out of 5 rounds, and half court the last two rounds. It was a pretty fun exercise, and when done back to back with the burpee pull ups, made for a great experience.

Saturday:
Arm workout in the garage.
Arm focused workouts are rare in my planning. This workout was done more to see if i had lost any strength in my biceps, and as a warmup for the gripper training later in the afternoon. More on closing grippers later.

  1. Standing alternating Zottman curls with 45lb dumbells ( regular curl up, rotate wrist to palm down, and lower) 5 sets with reps per set at 10/ 8/ 6/ 4/ 2. Did these strict, and controlled. Super setted each set with-
  2. weighted chin ups at 24kg. Reps were 5/ 4/ 3/ 2/ 1.
  3. Tricep push downs on the machine after the pull ups. 20 reps at approximately 150lbs.

Nothing planned for today except some yard work and taking the dogs for a short run.

Take care,

Tim

Home Gyms

Home gyms are awesome- They allow you to dress, act, experiment, listen to your own music, and really cut loose without having to worry about upsetting gym staff or other lifters.
They are as bare bones or as fancy as you want them to be.
You never have to wait in line for equipment, and no one asks you how many sets you have left for the bench as they hover around impatiently for you to finish.
They have the potential to be more effective than going to a full gym. For one you don’t have to go far to get to it, and you are more willing to fail in private, than in public and this is where you start to make the progress. Failing is a powerful tool to greater gains.

A few years ago, i used the garage gym exclusively, and found that on my return to the regular public gym, my gains in strength were much better than those around me. Looking in almost all of the historic strongman stories, a home gym, “cave” or “dungeon” had been the starting point for their success.

What to do?
Now, looking at the prices of most equipment, and the prices for weights and bars etc, how do you get one going without going broke. With patience. Pure and simple. Patience.

Do not go and get the whole garage filled up in one shot. Use a few guidelines for selecting what you buy:

  • Can this be used in more than one way?
  • Is it well made, and will it last? ( think in terms of 10-15 years)
  • Can I pay for it outright, with no credit or payment plans? ( important point, cash on hand )
  • Will I use this? Does this fit into my routine now or in the future?

These are just a few of the questions i use to help buy a piece of equipment. My collection in the picture has been built using patience, and a tight wallet over the past 10 years. My family comes first from the pocket, then work, then myself so to buy something new, the wife has got to bless off on it as well. Here is what is pictured, what it cost, and when i got it:

  1. Dumbbells- 3×50; 2×45; 2×25; 2×10; 1×70. Paid $0.25 a pound about 10 years ago. Db’s are a must.
  2. Adjustable bench (not pictured) $25, 10 years ago with the db’s
  3. Multi purpose weight machine. Got this monster on sale 7 years ago. Just got married, and had some “single money” left, so i got it for our new house. $500. It has all the gym cable machines all in one.
  4. Bench, bar, 425 lbs of plates- free. When people move, they leave stuff, and offer to give things away. Take advantage of this when it happens. I got this 6 years ago, and have used the hell out of it. My first 300 bench was on this, with the wife spotting me. (also got some rubber floor mats with it as well)
  5. Treadmill (not pictured) – $100 from friends that did not use it, and then they bought something else they didn’t use.
  6. Wood blocks for pinch grip training- made myself out of scrap wood. 6yrs
  7. Wrist roller attachment for the barbell – made myself from scraps and an old cargo strap. 6yrs
  8. Boxes to stand on for deficit deadlifts- made from scraps, 6yrs
  9. Grippers from Ironmind, Beef Builder all bought individually at $20 a piece. I started buying them 8 years ago, and bought the last one 3 years ago. They are very well made.
  10. Kettle bells- the 20lb one was under $30, but the 24kg, was a little pricey at $153. Buying any weights in Alaska is pricey. I’ve had these for 3 years.
  11. 80 lb sand bag- i make a new one every place i go to. Wood pellets, or play ground sand and a duffle bag. Super cheap, super effective.
  12. 8lb Sledge hammer- awesome for the forearms. 6yrs ago, free.
  13. Pull up station- $78, or something close to that. Prior to this recent purchase, i had a bar hanging from the back porch. Pull ups outside at -25degrees is not cool/ pull ups with swarms of mosquitoes in the summer, torture.
  14. Broken mirror- lesson learned, be carefull when parking the car in the garage.

There are more items scattered around bought over the years. The big thing here was that all of these items were picked up piece meal, and when they became available, not when i wanted them. I use the hell out of these things, and will continue to indefinitely.

Home gyms are awesome and highly recommended. With patience and a good eye, they can be built up relatively cheap. The occasional big purchase item may look expensive in the short term, but if it meets all the criteria you are looking for, over the years it will turn into an investment that will have more than paid itself off.

Till next time, take care and good lifting,

Tim

6 Week Review

It has been incredibly busy at work this past week, but I was able to review the last squat cycle and come up with a few lessons learned for next time.
6 WEEK REVIEW:
The good:

  1. Cutting back to one squat session every week. This seemed to help alot with my ability to recover fully before hitting the cage the next time. My first run through this started light, and built up every workout at a steady pace. With the weights I was going to be using this time I decided that would have been to much both mentally and physically.
  2. Lower volume during the rest of the week. This was not really planned, but happened because of work requirements. Planned workouts were missed, and a hip injury thrown into the mix necessitated fewer workouts, and the lower overall volume. The workouts I did get in had alot to them, but with all the extra rest I was getting it worked out.
  3. Heavy overhead work. I was more focused on hitting overhead db’s, and less on heavy benches. After getting 200 overhead, the thought of getting 225 has stuck with me.

The bad:

  1. Not enough running or work capacity: when i did get to the gym, my focus seemed to be towards the weight. I did make an effort to keep the intensity high and the rest periods short, but in the end my cardio suffered.
  2. I did not prepare for high reps going into this. Going from 5×5, and 5-4-3-2-1 and heavy singles did not translate over to 20reps very well. I need to prepare with increased repetitions going into this next time. Working in the 10-12 rep range several weeks prior will help prevent injury, and get the gears working right again.
  3. Eat more calories. My calorie intake was not as consistent as i would have liked. Missed meals, and not getting enough protein (both meats and shakes). My last time through was luckily through the holidays, so eating enough to recover was not hard at all. I did more last time, and ate more and had no issues with energy or recovering. I think the success of that last squat workout was due to a conscious effort to pound down the food that week.

The big take away from this was nutrition. Eating more probably would have helped more than anything, and I think I let it go believing that I could fight through anything. I’m not sure, but next time eating like a horse will be number one on the priority list.

This week I’m just putting a hurting on the body, but with lower weights, and higher reps. Next week begins a two week cycle focused on stamina, and building up recovery ability. Thursday was awesome as I revisited a workout I have done several times before. Inspired by a Military Athlete workout, I’ll be doing the full version of it again the second week.

  • 15-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6 reps of:
  1. 185lb deadlift
  2. Clean and press with the 20kg kettle bells
  3. 135lb back squat
  • After the dead lifts and squats i did 5 standing russian twists
  • To finish each round there were 5 reps of “scotty bobs”. With 25lb dbs ( push up right row, push up left row=1 reps)

Felt great working a ton of volume, after several days of no gym time. It also helped work out some of the stress that had built up from the office.

I am playing catch up this weekend, and will be posting several more time to get caught up. Till next time

Take care, and good lifting

Tim

Recap of last workout

Yesterday was the last squat workout for the 6 week cycle, and I’m glad that it finished with a win. 290 has been hanging over my head for the last few weeks, and frustration with missed workouts and super busy work schedule were beginning to get to me.

I found an hour free yesterday morning to squeeze in a workout. As I headed to the gym, i decided that squats were going to be the whole focus of the workout, and that I think was the recipe for success: morning workout and single focus.

  1. Warm up:3 rounds of- 10 hindu push ups/ 10 military press 25 lb db’s/ 10 rear delt flies 25lb db’s all done back to back; 5 walking lunges per leg; squats (per round) 135×4/ 165×4/ 195×4
  2. Worked up the weights for the squats in 30lb increments for 2 reps each. 225/255/285
  3. Work set: 290×20
  4. Db pull overs with 40lb db x20
  5. Calf raises 65lb x 30x 2 sets

I took about 5 minutes to get ready for the work set. As I am staring at the bar, one of my buddies comes in and starts making smart ass comments to me along the lines of how the weight wasn’t going to lift itself, and some old man remarks, etc. He sat down, and was going to watch.

Its a good thing he did. At rep #9, I told him to keep count for me and he kept me honest with each rep he counted off. I was to busy focusing on each single rep to count anymore. Reps 10 thru 16 were not to bad, but those last four were a beast. When i dropped in the hole for #20 I went really not knowing if i would ever come back up, and at lock out I basically had to fall forward to re rack the bar. What an awesome feeling.

Today i’m hitting upper body, and the grippers pretty hard, as well as reviewing the last 6 weeks and sorting out good and bad lessons learned for future references. Till next time ,

Take care and good lifting,

Tim

Quick update

Last squat workout for the 6 weeks. 290×20 is done. Just got it, super pumped.

Going to post again this evening

Take care, and good lifting

Tim

Take care and good lifting,

Tim

Quick work

Just a quick post of today’s workout. Yesterday was all pressing movements, so i wanted to hit the back a little.

  1. Tabata 24kg snatches. Reps per interval were 12/12/10/10/10/9/8/8= 79 reps. I had hand switches when the reps were slowing during the work intervals, and if i ended with say the right hand, i started the next interval with the right hand.
  2. Pull ups: 5×5
  3. L sit chin up, with 6 trips side to side (think eating corn on the cob) x 3 sets

Great fast workout.

Till next time, take care and good lifting

Tim

Workout takes a life of its own

Yesterday’s workout did not go as planned, but took a life of its own. I wanted to give 20reps a good shot before the end of the week, but week 5 is now done and week 6 will be my last shot at getting 290.

Saturday :
The workout was a back and forth adventure, squats and upper body. I have been doing this lately to knock time off of my workouts, and to make sure I have my technique dialed in for the 20rep attempt. Doing it this way keeps the work moving, and I feel I am better prepared for the squats than when I hit upper body, then lower. Hopefully I can write this in a way that is easy to follow.

  1. Super set 1- squats and “the chain”: (Squats weigt and reps/ “the chain” weight) 135×5/ 20, 25, 30, 35, 40; 135×5/ 45, 50, 55; 165×3/ 60, 65; 195×3/ 70; 225×2/ 80 This where i transitioned to the next super set
  2. Super set 2- squats and 1 hand dumbbell jerks at 105lbs: (squat wgt x reps/ jerk reps by hand) 255×2/ 5r 4L; 285×2/ 4r 3L; 315×1/ 3r 3L; 325×1/ 2r 2L; 335×1/ 1r 1L. Next super set
  3. Super set 3- Bench press and squats: (bench wgt x rep/ squat wgt x rep) 165×10/ 225×5; 195×8/ 225×5; 225×6/ 225×5
  4. Calf and neck- 1×30 at 65lbs calf raises; 10 reps each direction on the neck machine at 25 lbs
  5. Finisher- loaded the squat bar to 415, un-racked the bar and held the weight on the shoulders for 30 seconds. I did this two times.

It took me about an hour and a half to finish. When written out it looks like a lot, but it really didn’t seem like it at the time. My last workout was monday, and with the extra time away from the gym, I needed this. All the weeks stress is now gone, and damn I feel better now.

New piece of equipment:
I bought a pair of Minimus running shoes by New Balance. They are barefoot running shoes with the Vibram soles. I like these shoes. Now I no longer have to take my shoes off to squat in socks which was always a pain in the butt when I was doing back to back exercises. I have not run in them yet, but i can’t wait to see how they feel.

Take care and good lifting,

Tim