Arm day

Arms and grip are a one day a week event, and have been now for the last 4-5 weeks. For along time, I quit doing arm only focused workouts, but when I did my first cycle of 20 rep squats, the program had curls in it and I got hooked again. Arms are a very addictive focus area with the evidence of their addictive power found in every gym across the world. I’ve had some good carry over effect from my weekly arm day, and decided to put it out in the open.

Even when I was younger, and my weight routine followed a bodybuilding style programming, I always followed arms with a compound lift or bodyweight exercise. Doing this I reasoned, would keep my body functioning as a unit instead of getting bound up as individual parts. For arm day I usually used either pull/chin ups, barbell rows, or clean and press. For the past few weeks it has been the pull up.

Below is my arm and grip workout.

  1. Warm up: 3×20 light grippers super setted with extensor work with rubber bands; 3×5 of the following three exercises back to back each arm- 1) hammer curls with 8lb sledgehammer, hammerhead to the front, held halfway down the handle, 2) sledgehammer curls with hammerhead to the rear, hand 3/4 of the way down the handle 3) hammer rotations side to side, holding the handle about 8″ from the hammerhead. Follow this with 3×15 each of wrist curls and reverse wrist curls with the forearm developer.
  2. Zottman curls- 10-8-6-4-2 with 45lb db’s. Superset these with Tricep push downs at 20 reps (on my machine I use about 100lbs. )
  3. Finished with 5×5 of pull/chin ups strict.

Following 5-10 minutes rest I hit the heavy grippers.

  1. 3 parallel close attempts with the “Super Master”
  2. 3 credit card attempts with a filed down #2
  3. 5 credit card closes with the #2
  4. 5reps of credit card closes with the #1 heavily filed down.

The gripper work listed is for my right hand. I follow the same report patterns for my left hand, but with only 2 fully functional fingers on the left hand, the gripper strengths stay at the #2, but mostly the #1 level.

I do this one weekend, and flip the schedule around and start with grippers the next weekend as the warm up. The rep scheme for the Zottman curls changes as well to 2-4-6-8-10.

Each week this has gotten easier to handle, and i am now getting all my closes with the #2 and #1 grippers. Yesterday was the first time i got closes with the Super Master ( a mid way gripper between a #2 and #3) and a close with the filed down #2. So progress is being made.

During the week, with my full workouts, I have been able to handle the weights longer, and have definitely seen carryover to all my other lifts. This continues to be a fun experiment, and the increased arm size has been ego soothing as well.

Till next time, take care and good lifting



Week in the rear view

This has been a busy week, but enjoyable.

Monday, the wife and I left home for the 6 hour drive to Fairbanks to see my son’s high school graduation. It was awesome. He earned a scholarship, and with all the AP classes he had, he is well ahead of the game for college. Very proud of him.

We had to leave right after the graduation, and made it back home Wednesday morning at 2:30am. Four hours sleep, a 4.7 earthquake I nearly slept through, and it was off to work. Talked to the surgeon and I will wait to fix the hernia till after the highland games.

Workout wise, pretty good week as well. I hit alot of volume, and hefted some respectable weight in everything I had planned.
Below are three of the workouts I thought stood out.
In the afternoon, I ran one of my remaining APFT failures through a pretty good hour long remedial PT session, focusing on core and upper body. Feeling warmed up after we were done, I went to hit my workout.

( one of the things I focused on with my troop was his posture. His shoulders are forward, and his slumped forward position is effecting all of his efforts.)

Box squats- 8 sets of 3 reps. I got a good 315 x3. When I tried 335, I failed and had to leave it on the pins. Just do not want to force the issue with my current injury. Will give it a shot next week. (this is the first time lifting this “heavy” in the last few weeks, and i loved it)
Finishing box squats, I moved into my Crossfit WOD attempt.
Crossfit workout:
What I didn’t see as much improvement on was with my time on the Crossfit WOD “Grace”.
135lb clean and jerk x 30 reps for time.

I sporadically throw in a WOD I find interesting from time to time, but they usually have something to do with what I am focusing on at the time. Since overhead work has become a focus of mine lately, I wanted to see how I would do compared to last time. This is the only WOD I have done more than once, and this was my second go at it. My last time was I think 8:15. This time, I took it a little easier, and focused on keeping good form, instead of racing the clock. My time on Wednesday afternoon was 6:31. Lots of room for improvement.

Did a real quick warm up of
30-25-20-15-10 of
135 bench press
28kg kb swings
Step ups on a 18″ box.

I got all sets unbroken, and a sip of water, and 30 seconds between exercises.
From here I was going to some stamina work, but since the gym is renovating, all the kettle bells I was looking for were in storage. I took it as a sign, and went and hit the heavy bag for 30 minutes. (really cutting loose on the heavy bag released alot of pent up frustration from work)

This was going to be my first deadl lift workout in a while.
Warmed up with “the chain”, and every rep was strict. I have seen a huge improvement in my performance with this exercise having hit this more and more. 20lbs- 70lbs in 5 pound increments.

Crossfit workout #2 for the week:
225 dead lift
hand stand push upsEvery dead lift was a dead stop and no bouncing. The hand stand push ups were just a little short of touching my head to the ground each rep. Time: 7:56. Not the greatest, but it’ll improve. I really liked this one.

Finished the workout with:

  1. 3 rnds of 6 lunges each leg at 40lbs; and 3 one leg dead lifts at 28kg kb.
  2. 3 rnds of kettle bell floor press x 10; 3 clapping push ups; 3 uber strict pull ups

Overall a good week. I feel great, and can’t wait to hit a nice arm and grip workout today.

Till next time, take care and good lifting,


Burpee Pull Ups

I remember it was about 8 or 9 years ago when I first started doing this exercise. I thought at the time I had come up with a new exercise, and that no one had ever thought of combining the two exercises together. NOPE. These things have been around, they just aren’t all that common to see in the everyday gym.

Oh well. There really aren’t all that many things that are original, just rediscovered or repackaged in a new way.

I will tell you that this is an awesome exercise that can be used in many ways as an addition to your normal routine. The last 6+ months, Burpee Pull Ups have taken up more and more of my time, and i have really learned to appreciate their versatility and what they bring to the table.

What do they hit?
Just about everything. This exercise gives you “more bang for your buck.”
Bend, plank, push, squat to jump, catching, pulling, and a depth jump catch at the end when dropping from the bar for good measure, it has it all.
When you string reps together, you get the breathing and the blood flowing as well.

How to fit them in?
Personally, I use them as a warmup the majority of the time. When I finish using these as a warm up, everything feels ready to go regardless of whether the rest of the workout is upper or lower body focused.

Burpee Pull ups, can also find a place as a finisher; super setted with either an upper or lower body weightlifting exercise; as the whole work out itself. The possibilities are endless.

Reps or Time
When I do these, I usually set up a rep range I want to work in, and from there break it up into sets and reps that reach it. When I break it into the sets and reps, I try to vary it between workouts in one of two ways: lots of lower rep sets, or fewer higher rep sets.
Example: my current total I am going for is 40-60.
Last week I did 10 sets of 5, at a pretty good pace.
Yesterday, I did 5 sets of 10 with a steady pace, and a little longer rest period between sets.
Next week I will do 10 sets of 6.
Two weeks from now 3 sets of 15.

It’s up to you how you use them. But try to have short rep sessions mixed in. You will work the sets harder and faster, and mentally its easier to handle. The long rep sessions are good for building up stamina, but are hard to do mentally week after week.

I use time mostly for max rep testing. Last time I did these for time i got 79 in 20 minutes. My previous best was 77. My goal, is 100 in 20 minutes. When I get that, it’ll be 100 in 15 minutes, etc, etc.

Another way to use time is to do say 5 a minute, for 10 minutes. Set your clock, and then go at it.

How to do them
The photos show as best as I can how each rep to chin over the bar goes. Some things to keep in mind when doing these by photo:

  1. Use a bar you have to jump up to. You can do them on low bars, but you want a higher bar. Stand under the bar.
  2. When you bend down to plant you hands on the ground, your hands should be directly under the bar.
  3. Kick back into a good push up start position, body tight and do a push up to at least upper arms parallel to the ground. I prefer this to the flop the body on the ground burpee some do. When in this position, the only things touching the ground are the hands, feet, and chest.
  4. When you retract your feet back towards your hands, do it quickly, and land in a squat position. Your hands will come off the ground on their own. Feet placement here is up to you. The feet can come back up between your hands (narrow base squat), or to the outside side (wide base squat)
  5. Explode up to the bar. Try to jump as high as possible. Think of trying to get your chin over the bar every jump. This won’t happen, but you want the catching of the bar to be as high as possible, and there to be momentum to carry you up in the pull up.
  6. Catch the bar and continue to pull using the momentum from your jump. The goal is to not do a dead hang pull up. If you jump short and have to do a dead hang, then fine, but momentum is your friend here.
  7. Chin over the bar at a minimum. Chest to bar if possible. The more tired you get, the longer your pull up range of motion will get.

From here, lower from the bar quickly, and under control, and drop to the ground. Land with knees bent, and body up right in an athletic position. Control is key on dropping from the bar. Once you are planted, go into the next rep as fast as possible, staying strict with your form. The sound of your feet with have a rhythm- clap, clap, clap (plank- feet to hands-landing)

(One thing I found out, is this exercise did not help me in my dead hang pull/chin ups. I found very little carry over, and when I started back into dead hang work, I had a loss in reps, and technique. Dead hang pull/chins did have carry over to the burpee version though.)

If you’ve never done them before give them a serious try. If you already use them, let me know how you program them in to your routine.

Till next time, take care and good lifting.


The constant battle

I had a whole article written about all kinds of things, and it turned into a rambling mess. So I cut it down to just this.

I am not all that egotistical, and quoting myself may seem to come off as such , but let me explain. Below is the only speech I gave a group of trainees that has stuck with me. My buddies and I would be teaching a class, or making corrections on something, and some of the stuff that would be said would be funny as hell, or just plain off the wall. Later, if you were to ask us what we had said, we would probably not be able to tell you. Why this sticks with me I don’t know.

I was filling in as First Sergeant in his absence, and had to give the new class of trainees their intro to training. I don’t remember what was going on at the time, and only know that this was as much talking to myself as it was to the Soldier’s.

I started off with introducing the Command, fellow Drill Sergeants, myself, and then went into it:
(some foul language)

‘No man ever grew up wanting to be the weakest man in the world. No man ever grew up wanting to be the biggest pussy the world has ever seen. No man grows up wanting to be the only man in the world to get his ass kicked by everyone, and I don’t know of any man ever saying to himself growing up “I want to be the dumbest mother fucker the world has ever known”.

We all grow up playing super heroes. We grow up wanting to be strong men, and scientists. We want to be famous, powerful, successful, strong in every way.

Men want these things, but when it gets hard, and the going gets tough, these things fall to the wayside. Being comfortable takes the place of what you want. It’s easier to feign injury instead of pushing it during PT. It’s easier to not study, and hope for the best during testing than it is to put in the hours with your nose in the book.

It’s when you make that decision to take the easy way out, you start to form a bad habit. When you make that choice once, it’s easier to make again. Each time you do it, you will regret it, and it will begin to eat at you on the inside. When it begins to really gnaw at you, you are presented with two choices:

  1. You can man up, realize what’s happening, and fight to change the “easy” habit
  2. Or you accept it, and begin rationalizing your choices, and find reasons and excuses why you can’t do something. It’s here, at this moment, you’ve given up, and coming back from this will take some serious work on your soul.

The old saying, “you can do anything you set your mind to”, never says anything about how long it takes to get there. But you have 9 weeks to get started while your here. ‘

I rambled on about what they could expect at training, and discipline, etc.

That little bit I started with, was as much talking to myself as I was them. A daily affirmation so to speak, cause “gosh darn it, people like me”.

Off to the gym,

Take care, and good lifting