Goerner inspired, lots of singles, and then box squats

To start things off, Happy Fathers Day. Make sure you call your Dad and thank him for everything he did (including not killing you when you were a teenager).

This was a very busy week, and with field time, jumps, and other work requirements, monday was my last workout.

The last few weeks have been heavy with high rep, and body weight work so yesterday I focused on lots of singles. I used some inspiration from Herman Goerner’s workouts and just plain had fun.

  1. Warm up- ” the chain” starting with 20lbs, and going up in 5lb increments, stopped at a strict 80lb per hand.
  2. 1 Hand Dumbell clean and jerk- singles each hand at 85lb/90lb/95lb/100lb/105lb/110lb
  3. 1Hand Barbell clean and jerk- singles per hand of : 95lb/ 105lb/ 115lb/ 120lb/ 125lb. I did 3. Attempts at 135 with my right hand, but could not get under the bar fast enough and was unable to lock it out. I was very close to getting it locked out, but it will just have to wait till next time I guess.
  4. 2 Hand Barbell clean and jerk- singles 135/ 155/ 175/ 185/ attempted 195, but did not get it cleaned. Upper body was getting fatigued.
  5. Box squats to parralel – the gym got two awesome new power racks this week, and i was surprised to see them as I walked into the weight room. These have a ton of pull up handles, a pull up bar, all the pins and connection points for bands…. They are awesome. Anyway, box squats- 135×3/ 165×2/ 195×2/ 225×2/ 255×2/ 285×2/ 315×2
  6. Finished with 225×15 of the box squats.

I had fun, lots of chalk, sweat and almost got a PR on the 1 hand barbell C&J. The box squat finisher has me thinking of doing the 20 rep squats again, only on the box. Mulling it around right now, and luckily I am scheduling my next 6weeks of workouts today, but the next two weeks will be heavy on the farmers carries. The Highland Games are right around the corner and my prep work has been spotty to nonexistent. As long as I beat my distance from last year, I’ll be happy.

My body was kind of enough to remind me I still have a hernia during the 2 hand C&J, but it wasn’t so big a reminder that I would have to stop the workout. I have hardly noticed any discomfort the last few weeks with all the body weight and high rep work, and nearly forgot I had it still. Thanks body, really appreciate it.

The pictures are from the jump we did friday. Calling in the aircraft and running the drop zone gave me the chance to get some awesome pictures with the mountains in the background. It’s hard to believe sometimes how beautiful Alaska is, and that I get to live and work here.

Till next time, take care and good lifting,



Starting the week off right

I usually schedule the “work capacity” style workouts for Tuesday or Thursday, but i found myself with limited equipment this morning, and decided to change it up a little.

What I did have was my 24kg KB, pull up bars, dip bars, and my BlackBerry tablet with the bleep test on it. I had this planned for later in the week, but oh well.

I loosely follow some of the programming from the Military Athlete program. The work capacity style workouts are normally, following a warm up, two 10min hard efforts with minimal rest between them, and finish with a longer 20 minute effort (today’s finisher did not take 20min.) . Here is this mornings workout:

  1. Warm up: 5 rnds of: 5x chin ups; 5x dips; 30 step ups on a 18″ platform
  2. 10 minutes of KB snatches: ended up with 130 reps total ( technique was good, but speed of reps was way off)
  3. 2 min rest
  4. 10 minutes- trying to get to 10 of the following: 1 goblet squat, 1 dip; 2 goblet squats, 2 dips; 3 goblet squats, 3 dips; etc, etc. I ended up getting to 8 and 8 when the timer beeper.
  5. 2 min rest
  6. Bleep test: this sucked, and i think i should have taken a longer break. I got to 5.1 before I fell behind the beeps. ( last time I did this in got 7.4 and that was after doing shuttle runs and Illinois agility test. Really disappointed in the results today.)

This evening:
I have been neglecting the bench press lately in favor of more overhead work. This evening i did a quick 5×5 session, with some chest supported rows on the machine in the garage.

  1. Bench: 5×135/5×165/5×195/5×225/3×255/2×255. The technique was good, and strict, but lost the groove on the 255 and had to do it in two sets for safety.
  2. 25 x 200 lbs chest supported rows on the machine.

Good day, long work hours, a huge dinner and I’m ready to hit the sack.

Till next time, take care and good lifting,


Fatigue, Busy Schedule, and Training

Walking into a weight room, dragging ass and just feeling run down is never a fun feeling. If it’s in the morning, it has the potential to ruin your whole day. In the evening, it can make the whole day feel like a wash.

Working long hours, stress from work and home life, and missing sleep or meals all have an effect on how you perform. A hard workout, or a new PR set during the week can potentially affect the rest of the weeks training due to soreness. The thing is, for most of us, we have our training planned out in advance, and it’s usually stuffed into the only free time we could find between all the other commitments we have. To come into your planned training event dragging ass, and just not feeling it can be quite the let down.

I have found a few ways to deal with this, and still come away with a good training session despite the mental or physical fatigue. These aren’t new ideas, but these have worked for me in the past, and continue to work for me. Some of them may work for you.

  • Prepare mentally before you even get to the training.

Switching gears can be hard, and with more on your mind the harder it will be. Prep your mind by using visualization. On the way to your training, and as far in advance of your start time as possible, begin running your workout over and over in your head. Clear all the clutter out from the day, the day before, the week ahead and the week behind. Changing into my gym clothes is my cue for my imagination to take over.

Visualize working through your warm up, and every rep of your work sets. Imagine the weights you’ll use, the chalk, the clock ticking off the time, and the feeling of exertion in every exercise.

  • Eat something

Eating a pre-workout snack will do wonders. Combine the snack with the visualization work, and imagine it as fueling up for the work ahead. Connect your meal, snack or shake to the workout in your head. Try to keep it all connected, and it will help get you focused and feel less like a checklist- change into gym clothes, check. Visualize, check. Snack, check. warm up,check…. start the training before you even start.

  • Warm up, and test the waters.

The first thing you need to do is conduct your warm up. I have found this to be the best way to really find out how bad I really feel. Getting the blood moving and the muscles working usually is all you need to “get in the mood”. The warm up, if you have set it up to prep your main movers for the work to come, will give you an idea of what you may have to adjust in your plan.

You may find that you need to add extra warm up sets prior to your work sets. Depending on your training sessions up to this point, you may discover you are a bit over trained. If this is the case, the warm up can become your whole workout.

  • Keep to your training schedule, but change the intensity.

If I have a ball busting strength, stamina, or work capacity style workout scheduled and during your warm up you just couldn’t get your body prepped enough due to stiffness, or plain can’t get the motivation to where it needs to be, maintain the schedule, and either adjust the intensity or the resistance you planned.

  1. For example: you have a Crossfit WOD planned of 30 reps of clean and jerk for time- conduct the workout but take away the “for time” element, or lower the weight.
  2. Long run planned, either shorten the distance and add some speed work still meeting the planned distance but with long rests between sprints, or adjust the pace for your whole distance. Sometimes just changing the scenery and running somewhere new is all you need.
  3. Heavy strength session for the bench- change the bar, or use dumbbells. Try floor presses. The change in bar or type of press, if you are not accustomed to the new exercise will still allow you to go heavy, but not as heavy as you would with your usual bench press. The new movement, learning the bar path, etc. will hit your chest just as hard, and the new movement will keep you focused mentally.
  • If a time crunch is the problem, decide the main focus for your workout from your schedule, attack it and cut out the extra work you planned.

If you know time will be a factor in completing your full plan, then decide what is the main focus before you start. Warm up, and get to the meat of it, and then go do whatever other business you have to attend. You may have planned a two hour workout, but out of the 24 hours, you may have ended up with 1. Use it, and get the most out of it you can toward your goal.

  • If you made it to the main work sets, and still not feeling it, or your just dead tired, let the warm up be your training for the day.

If you have tried everything, and didn’t find yourself over trained or injured in your warm up, and you just cannot get your motor started for your planned workout, going right to the cool down could be the best option for you that day. If you are on a run, turn it into a walk. It happens.

With all the possible things that can go on in our lives, sometimes a break is needed. If you did all you could, and it just didn’t work, don’t let it bother you. Take note of what happened, write it down, and learn from it. Take this as a failed attempt, just like going for that 1 rep max attempt. Learn from your mistakes and failures in order to succeed.

  • Don’t be a “pussy”

I apologize for the harsh word, but sometimes we need to say it to ourselves, and others to keep us on track. make sure you make a true assessment of yourself, and do a gut check before abandoning your plan, or skipping something. You can lie to everyone about why you missed training, but you can’t lie to yourself.

Here is an example of a decision point for doing dead lifts as planned.

Weak- Using tight hamstrings as an excuse for not doing deadlifts as planned

Smart- Feeling that twinge in the hamstring on the right leg that usually precludes a hamstring pull like it has done several times before during sprints or deadlifts.

See the difference.

To wrap up, we are all going to have those days where our life, and our training collide. Sometimes we are just tired, and plain worn out mentally from dealing with everything. You can let it get the best of you, take a seat on the great big couch of life and let it all go, or you can try all you can to plan, prepare and give it your best shot to further your goals in training and health.

( MY Flexible planning- I plan off of a five day training/work week. I have three strength days, a stamina focused day, and a work capacity day. I will plug the strength days in on Monday, Wednesday, Friday. The stamina on Tuesday, and work capacity on Thursday. If I miss a day due to work requirements, I move that days workout to Saturday. If I find that I am stuck somewhere without the required equipment for that days workout, I will instead do the stamina or work capacity workout that day ( I plan these two workouts to require minimal if any equipment) and get back to that workout later in the week. If I miss two or more workouts due to work, then i move one to Saturday, and the others are a loss, but i nail that Saturday workout as hard as possible.

When I have an outrageous work schedule on the horizon, I will plan only 3 workouts for the week, and fit them in where I can. Big thing is to keep track of work, home and training on the same calendar. This really cuts the stress level down.)

Till next time, take care and good lifting,


Evolving Workout pt3

To wrap up this long ramble on the many uses of an old routine:

Since my platoon leader had planted the seed, I decided to test the fruit. I took the half challenge, and broke it up into a rounds based workout seen below:

5 rounds for time of-

  1. 10 pull/chin ups
  2. 20 push ups
  3. 30 situps or other ab exercise
  4. 40 body weight box squats
  5. 50 swings @ 24kg

This was a lot worse than the other workouts. I have only completed this under 30 minutes once, and usually finish at about 35-37 minute mark. Bored with the usual rep and exercise scheme, it took its final shape in the following:

5 rounds in 40min or less-

  1. 10 pull/chin ups
  2. 10 “mr spectaculars” ( an exercise from Military Athlete: feet wider than shoulder width with 2, 20kg Kbs between your feet , walk your hands out to a push up position, do a push up, walk hands up till standing, grab the Kbs and do a clean and press, set them down and repeat)
  3. 30 crunches, situps, or obliques
  4. Mini leg blaster ( Military Athlete exercise- 10 squats, 10 lunges, 10 jump lunges, then 5 squat jumps. All done back to back )
  5. 50 swings with 20kg KB
  6. 2 laps (=2/10’s of a mile)

I don’t usually name any workouts really, but i named this one. “Brawl”, that’s it. I have yet to get this thing in under 40 minutes, and have yet to finish all 5 rounds. It just plain sucks the life out of you and knocks you on your ass.

To refocus, I am glad that my section leader made me come up with a PT plan so many years ago. I never thought at the time that it would give me something that I would continue to use to this day. This one workout “clicked” with me, and ever since then it has been a tool, guide, and test I refer to and use year after year, and continue to get good effects from. It became my “comfort” workout i guess you could say.

The pull up routine has again been pulled out of the tool box for use with my current platoon recently.

The platoons leadership had a very different idea about how difficult and challenging morning PT should be. So for two weeks I ran them through some pretty tough circuit training, running, and muscular endurance/strength sessions. The old pull up routine again put the hurt on many of them. By the end of the two weeks, the leaders had a pretty good idea of what I expected during PT, and i have already seen some of them implement some of the ideas into their schedules. Now the troops are coming to PT knowing that they will be challenged daily, and the team building has begun again.

I think the point of this was that when you truly find something that works, or clicks with you, stick with it. If it is something of value, and profits you or those around you, you will be able to tell. The good will endure, and the bad and worthless will fall away.

Until next time, take care and good lifting.


Evolving Workout pt2

During my time as a Drill Sergeant, I used the pull up routine sporadically. The physical training of the Soldier’s was highly regimented at the time, and there was little wiggle room in what exercises we could and couldn’t have them perform. I won’t go into much more detail than to that, and keep my personal thoughts on it all to myself.

When I started as a DS, I was in outstanding shape, but long 18-20 hour days, back to back cycles, and inconsistent meal schedule (troops always get to eat, the DS, not so much) put a beating mentally and physically. The morning PT the troops were led through was not really a challenge for many of the DS’s, but finding the mental energy to really kill yourself in the gym on your own time was hard. During my day, I would find time to hit the gym in the unit area or at one of the Post gyms. This is when I really started to hit the big lifts, for lower reps and a focus on 1rep maxes, and old time strongman feats of strength. To sum it up, I got really strong, bulked up with alot of muscle, and let my endurance and cardiovascular go to the shit can.

What I did take away from this was the importance of a good balanced program (which I did not have), how much stronger but out of shape I was, and what it takes to get strong on the three big lifts. I would still do the pull up routine on occasion, but it became more of a test. I would time how long it took me to complete the whole routine sans the piggy back carries.

It wasn’t until I got to my next unit that I really got my wake up call on how far out of shape I was. Before deploying, I really hammered the pull up routine, running and circuit training. I continued to lift heavy but, two out of the five days of workouts were devoted to stamina and endurance. This schedule and patrolling the mountains started getting me back to where I wanted to be.

After redeploying, I started to see a huge improvement in my times in completing the workout. Instead of taking 50 minutes to an hour, I was in the 30-35 minute range.

About this time I decided for PT I would do a challenge workout, and see what I could do. The workout was real easy to remember, and really just sucked. The exercises in parentheses were those I rotated each set till I hit the total for that focus area.

  1. 100 chin ups/ pull ups (strict to start, kip towards the end)
  2. 200 push up exercises (regular, wide, close, Hindu and hand release)
  3. 300 ab execises (situps, crunches, obliques, and leg raises)
  4. 400 body weight squats ( squated to parallel touching my butt to a box each rep as a standard)
  5. 500 two handed Kettlebell swings with the 24kg bell. ( decided to finish with these as this is a whole body movement that would tax the legs, hips, upper back and hands once again and balance the squats with some hamstring work)

It took me almost two hours to get through. You had to finish all the reps in the exercise before moving on to the next exercise. Let’s just say the new Liutenant was not a happy camper, as I had him do it with me. My new goal was set. I wanted to do this workout in 60 minutes or less.

To do this I used the pull up routine every week, adding reps to the ground based exercises, and cutting the rest time down during transition between exercises. Every other week or so I would do a half session of the challenge, and try to get it under 30minutes.

  1. 50 pull ups
  2. 100 push ups
  3. 150 ab exercises
  4. 200 squats
  5. 250 swings @ 24kg

Soon I found my pull up routine times down in the high 20minute range, and a month and a half later got my under thirty minutes time for the half session at 29:46. Two weeks later I hit the full challenge, and completed it at 59:34.

I did the full routine with another of my many platoon leaders as well, but this guy is a beast. He was able to hang in there the first time he did it, and did it just over an hour no problem. He asked several times if he could switch exercises in a circuit fashion. I told him just to do the workout and don’t ask again, but he got me thinking, how bad would it be if it was broken down into rounds of each exercise.?

(I gave the full challenge a go yesterday, and completed the 400 squats at the 46 minute mark. I started the swings, and hit 260 reps at the 56:35 mark, but got called into a meeting before I could finish. I would have busted the 60 min goal, but not by all that much. not bad considering I haven’t done the full challenge since last September. My new LT. did the half challenge and finished at the 46 minute mark. He’s probably feeling it today I’m guessing. )


Evolving Workout

Over the next few posts, I am going to ramble on about how one workout has evolved, and stayed with me through the years, giving me the confidence to tackle harder workouts today.

Morning physical training has been part of my daily life for the the last 15+ years. It is something that all the services do in one form or another, and has been that way for a long time. Morning PT improves the abilities of the fighting forces to meet the demands of combat, and training. From huge Division runs, down to squad size elements, it takes all kinds of forms and intensity levels. It’s focus can be unit cohesion, to building mental and physical ruggedness.

When I was still new to the Army, this would be about 1999, my section leader tasked me with planning, and executing a PT session. It was a way of developing his junior troops for future leadership positions. The session could be anything I wanted, and i chose a muscular endurance/strength based workout.

It was simple and all we needed was the pull up bars, and the grassy area around them. Here is the layout-

  1. Stretched out and lite calisthenics to get loose- 10minutes
  2. 10 down to 1 pull/chin ups. In between sets we did 40 sit ups with our partner holding our feet.
  3. 10 down to 1 hanging knee raises, with our partner supporting the lower back to prevent swinging. In between sets, we would do 25 push ups varying the hand positions each time we did them.
  4. Cool down of stretching

My section leader critiqued the session, and said that it was a good workout, but i needed to add some lower body in the next time we did it, either sprints or a run. We would do this several more times before I moved to my next unit, and we did add some lower body to it. We would do piggy back carries to finish the workout.

I would continue to do this workout on my own over the next few years, but it would be a while before I got to use this again with my own troops. I got promoted in late 2000, and I ended up getting my own squad early 2001. In developing my PT plan, I decided to pull this workout out of the duffle bag, and use it as my upper body day.

By this time I had seen someone doing Ankle To Bars in one of the gyms on post, and decided that they would take the place of the knee raises. I also decided to rotate ab exercises between sets in stead of just doing sit ups. I would do the same with the push ups as well, rotating both hand positions, and adding dive bomber push ups, feet elevated push ups and dips into the mix as well. To finish, we still would use piggy back carries.

  1. 10-1 pull/chin ups with 40 reps of alternating ab exercises
  2. 10-1 ATB with rotating push up exercises at 30 reps
  3. Piggy back carries at varying distances

It was a solid workout, and this is where I first discovered that if you ran hard PT the higher ups would leave you alone, and that mental strength was what this workout trained more than just the physical. Doing this once a week had an impact on my squads performance in the field, and soon the troops began to see the improvement and realized the importance of morning PT.

When the squad first did these workouts, they hated every minute. Many couldn’t do the first 10 pull ups unassisted, and muscle failure was the name of the game after the first few sets. But by using their buddies assistance, they would grind through. After several weeks though, guys would drop off the bar and announce that they got the first ten on their own. Or at the end during the cool down someone would comment on how much easier it was this time. Here is where I really learned about consistency in training and that if you keep at a workout long enough, you can meet a goal – and more importantly you can get other people to do the same. The PT we did became something that the troops bragged about to the rest of their buddies in the company. It helped bring them together.

The summer of 2002, I volunteered to switch units to go lead a squad over in Afghanistan. The train up for the deployment was brutal, involving lots of long foot marches in full kit and armor carrying as much as we could in our packs. Combining this with long runs and the live fire exercises really got us ready as a unit for what we were getting into. Downrange my squad turned into gym rats in their down time, and as a squad we started doing the pull up routine. After redeployment, we maintained a very high level of fitness.

I stayed with that platoon for the next 3 years. My squad got used to the workout and combined with the rest of the weeks PT, had the highest PT average in the company. We would do morning PT, work all day, and then go to the gym for 2 hours in the evening hitting the weights. I never realized how good in shape we were until years later when I had moved on to serve as a Drill Sergeant ( I’ll explain that more in the next post).

This workout has been a staple of mine in both the professional and personal areas of my training. From it I learned about consistency in training, mental training, and developing a team unity.

My next post will continue to explain how I use this in my personal training, and how this basic template spawned several other workouts.

Till next time Take care and good lifting,


KB’s, box squats, and circuit training

Just a quick update to what’s been going on the last week or so.

Memorial Day
This past Monday I made my way over to the units Memorial to pay respects to this that have fallen over seas. I currently have a lot of friends over there right now, and pray for their safe return.

This week we will have a ceremony honoring three of the units recent fallen.

The workout for Memorial Day was simple. Put the 24kg KB overhead 509 times. (currently belong to the 509th Infantry) it took 1 hour and 6 mintues and consisted of 250 snatches, and when the calluses came off, I switched to 259 push presses.

Box Squats
I continue to use the box squats, and have come to enjoy them. They seem to be a lot easier on the hernia, and I have started to hit some respectable weight with them as well. I am rotating bars, chains, and rep schemes. This week I shoot for a one rep max with the safety squat bar.

Circuit Training
Made my guys do some pretty hard PT the last two weeks. I did this to give the junior leaders some good ideas on what they can do for PT in the morning, and also what I expect from them when planning their schedules for their guys.

I’ll post several more times this week, but got to finish some errands I have been putting off.

Till next time, take care and good lifting