Sunday, March 21, 2010

Too much energy = a long, powerful workout

Thursday 03/18/10

Ah, with the impending Mud Run I didn't want to do this but... I had pent up energy and had to release it. So, I hit it hard today with a workout, actually, two, followed back to back. By the end of the second one, I still felt great and spent the rest of the day running errands and being productive. Some days, energy level just REALLY falls into place.

Walked the dog for about an hour

Workout 1: Kick-boxed: 12x3 minute rounds with one minute rest between rounds. The one minute was spent on trunk work (yes, that means "core," "abs," and lower back). I just dislike the trendy terms. My kicks were high and powerful, punches were crisp and clean (loud pops today) and my general overall movement was fast and fluid. Felt good.

Workout 2: Went to the soccer field to do some sprints.
I did 10-11 ten second all out sprints with 5 minutes in between. During the five minutes I worked on OAC/OAP (one-arm chins, one-arm pull-ups), one-arm push-ups, side levers, back levers, muscle-ups, front levers, and handstands. Basic gymnastics.

The side lever on my left side is really coming along and I'm getting closer to straight-arm. My right side is taking off as well, just much slower than the left. Handstands are getting longer but HSPU's are still eluding me. I held an almost perfect straight back lever for about 10 seconds, but the front lever and the planche????

After the workout I stretched and walked for about an hour.

Monday, March 15, 2010

No fitness lost...

... by just doing the bare minimum.

So far, my theory and experiment have worked. For some time now, I have been doing the bare minimum as far as workouts and physical fitness is concerned. Over the past few months, I have mainly been walking the dog, anywhere from one to two hours, with a sprint workout about once every 7-10 days and maybe some real heavy unconventional weight training and/or bodyweight exercise ONCE a week. Though my bodyweight has come down (don't really know why) from 165lbs. to 154lbs., I've become stronger, faster, my energy level has gone up and I'm sleeping A LOT better. It's hard to pinpoint why these changes have occurred. I believe I've narrowed it down to a few factors.

1. Less workout frequency (i.e. days of the the week)

2. less volume (not so many exercises or time during the actual workout)

3. More walking (a natural anti-inflammatory and form of recovery)

4. Good eating (HIGH GOOD fats, lots of meat, and yes, carbs, but smart carbs, and lots of wine-> not too sure if this is really contributing :))

5. Smart exercise (when I do workout, it is fast, hard, heavy, intense, brief and RANDOM).

By random, I mean the workout is never the same. It's on a different day of the week, it may be two days in a row, it may be a week without a workout, it's RANDOM! That being said, I performed a workout yesterday similar to what I used to do 3-4 times a week for years that I finally ceased about a year ago. The workout was a Tabata protocol which is 20 seconds of work as hard as you can possibly go (NO PACING) followed by 10 seconds of rest. Set a timer and repeat for four minutes. You end up doing 8 intervals of 20 seconds of work. Yes, most people look at this and think that you cannot possibly get a good workout in only four minutes. Funny, try it.

What I do, is I do the above with one exercise, rest one minute and then move on to another exercise for the same amount of time. I do this with 8 different exercises. 8 exercises X 4 minutes per exercise with one minute of rest between exercise = 39 minutes for total time in the garage. 32 minutes are actually spent involved in work and rest and only 21 minutes and 20 seconds of ACTUAL WORK. I used to perform these types of workouts day in and day out and it is simply WAY TOO MUCH and not needed for the average person (or the elite, in my opinion). This type of workout however, performed just once a week (or as I'm about to show, once every couple of months) even with its brevity of roughly only 21 minutes will get one in far better shape than trudging along daily on the treadmill, stairmaster, stationary bicycle or their real world equivalents of "free-radical damage producing chronic cardio" for hours on end ever will. Would you rather do an hour of boring, non-results-producing cardio 4-5 days a week, or 20 minutes of brief, variant exercise once or twice every couple of weeks or months with most of your physical activity spent walking and playing? Hmmm. My workout was as follows:

The Tabata Protocol

1.Jump Rope: rotated between double-unders and fast run-in-place forward and backward rope turns.
2. 100 lb. sandbag deadlift, clean and shoulder
3. Heavybag strikes, both punches and kicks with burpees mixed in.
4. 20lb. slamball, (take a basketball filled with sand and duct-taped) and with both hands like throwing a soccer ball in from out-of-bounds, slam it to the ground, catch it and do it over and over and over.
5. Kettlebell swings. (Rotate 50lbs. and 35lbs swings both one-arm and two-arm)
6. Ground heavybag work, (kicks, punches, and elbows)
7. Sledgehammer to the tire swings (both 20lb and 8lb. hammers)
8.20lb. medicine ball throws at the heavy bag. (Throw anyway you can, overhand, one-hand, underhand, twist-throw, HARD AND FAST).

I have not done this workout or this style of workout in approximately two months. While performing this workout yesterday, I noted there was no loss of skill, speed, strength, stamina, coordination, endurance, or overall fitness. Now, I am extremely sore today from head to toe, which shows this workout completely simulates the whole body unlike just jogging a few miles but, it's not meant to be done everyday or even weekly. So far, it appears that the intermittent bouts of high intense intervals of brief, fast, heavy and infrequent training with immense amounts of walking has payed off. I will be competing (for fun) in a Mud Run this Saturday which is a 10K race with boot camp style obstacles mixed in. I am not expecting some great physical performance on my part but rather to see how far my nonchalant and random natural way of movement will take me. It's a test of myself rather than a competition or test against a clock or another person. I advise people to at least try this low volume, low frequency, high intense but brief and random bout form of training. Trust me, it is what your body is craving and you will feel unbelievably powerful and naturally fit. If however, you want to be put through the above sadistic Tabata protocol..., please, give me a call and I will gladly watch you suffer. Just be prepared to call your doctor the next day for some pain pills because you WILL be hurting. Sometimes more is not what is needed. Sometimes, less is more.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wellness Fundamentals Hierarchy?

Is there such thing as a wellness fundamentals hierarchy? I think so. First, let's define "one" definition of a hierarchy; - a graded or ranked series. So, how does this apply to wellness and healthy living and is there an order or a map that we should follow when pursuing our wellness goals?

So often I hear and see people discuss and do things when trying to get fit and healthy and they are simply just spinning their wheels. The quote "you can't out-exercise a bad diet" surely comes to mind. I know all too many people that fit this mold. They kill themselves with excessive cardio day in and day out and go right back to eating processed and other unfavorable foods that simply don't jive with the human body and the viscous cycle continues. No progress is made as it pertains to strength gains, energy level or general health and wellness. However, this cycle is not just confined to exercise and diet, hence the hierarchy of wellness.

There are four components that I recognize as being vital for true health and wellness while yet seeming so simple, aren't necessarily that easy to dial in. They are diet, stress, sleep and exercise. Keep in mind, there is no real order of importance here as ALL of these are extremely important. If you do stop and think about it for a moment though, the order that I have placed these components in does make sense.

1. Diet - Everything that you put into your mouth has an effect on your body (basically shitty input, shitty output, great input, great output) and effects everything from mood to energy level to performance, etc. etc. If your diet is bad, you're going to have stress, both internally and externally. Your body will be in a state of chronic inflammation (internally) and your ability to handle daily stresses (externally) will be diminished. Food is medicine. When we become ill, we run to the doctor to get a pill. We pop the pill with a glass of water and wait to feel better. Most ailments are caused by a bad diet. Instead of digesting a pill after the fact (a reaction), try eating a healthy diet of real, whole, natural foods before the fact (a prevention and proactive approach) and observe how you simply won't get as sick as frequent, or if at all when simply eating better.

2 Stress - Ah, a biggie, and yet the hardest to control. If your boss is an asshole there's really not much you can do about it. If you're cut off in traffic, can't do much about that either. Bills are piling up and money is tight... yep, here we go again. How we choose to REACT to these situations on the other hand is how we manage stress and, do not be fooled, it is a choice! Stress, whether chronic or acute cause our bodies to release cortisol. Simply put, some cortisol release is good, too much is bad. Most Americans have too much of this stress hormone coursing throughout their circulation which leads back to... you guessed it, chronic inflammation, the root cause of most modern diseases. Figuring out how to manage stress is personal and I don't proclaim to be an expert in dishing out "stress management" advice. What I can suggest is to find what works for you. If it's taking a slow deep breath from time to time, wailing on a heavy bag, meditating, practicing yoga, eating some dark chocolate with a glass of wine, find what calms and relaxes you and makes YOU feel good about being YOU.

3. Sleep - 8 hrs., 7 hrs, 10 hrs., a 20 minute nap, dark room, cold room, hot room, yadda, yadda, yadda. So many recommendations but, who's right? The truth is, with the two categories above, diet and stress dialed in, good sleep will usually come fairly naturally, that is unless you're a public servant as I am and are subject to being awaken multiple times at night to run medical and/or fire calls, then, good sleep (coupled with stress and cortisol management) is tough to come by. I'M DOOMED! People do fool themselves into thinking that they need an Ambien, a night cap, or some sleep study to "fix" their "sleep disorder." 99% of the population most likely does not have a sleep disorder. 99% of the population on the other hand, most likely is not eating or managing stress as they should be and yes, this is what is REALLY affecting sleep. Again, it's up to each individual when, where and how they sleep. I like a bed, in a cold, dark room and I like to get between 7-8 hrs. Some folks can get a good night's rest in a tent out in the wilderness. It really varies. Find where you're most comfortable and relaxed and dream away.

4. Exercise
- Last? You've gotta be kidding me! I thought this was a health and fitness blog! Again, no real order of importance here but, too much emphasis is placed on exercise and most people are overdoing it and underdoing the three above. Exercise is vital but it doesn't have to be regimented, routine or regulated (hey, 3 R's, maybe I'm onto something here!) Rather, think in terms of movement. JUST MOVE! When I hear people say, "I hate walking," or "I don't have time to walk," I say to myself, "then what the hell are you..., a human being or a slug?" We are meant to walk, run, jump, lift, carry, throw, etc. We are bipedal, that's what makes us human and there is no better or more natural activity than simply taking a walk. Walking actually reduces inflammation, whereas intense exercise enhances inflammation. Which do you think we should be doing more of? Walking is obviously something that can be done daily, multiple times a day at our convenience. Intense exercise on the other hand, for some people can be done daily, multiple times a day as well, the problem is, even the elitist of the elite will eventually burn out with too much exercise. And, with too much exercise, in any form whether it be frequency, volume or intensity, I'll say it again, CORTISOL RELEASE, hence chronic inflammation, hence poor sleep, hence higher levels of stress, hence chronically depleted glycogen stores, hence craving crappy food and a bad diet. See how we just went back up the ladder of this hierarchy? VISCOUS CYCLE! My advice and what I truly know works is to take it easy and be smart about how you move. Do activities you enjoy as often as you can. Get up and move frequently if you're confined to a 9-5 desk job as most of us are. You can get burned out with too much exercise but you cannot get burned out with a nice and slow daily therapeutic walk. So, walk often, do something intense once or twice a week and play and engage in activities or sports as often as your schedule allows. Play is good not only for the body, but for the mind and soul as well.

There you have it, my hierarchy of the wellness fundamentals as I see it. Though I know it can be difficult, and I consider it both an art and science; learning how to effectively manage your diet, stress levels, sleeping habits and exercise truly can lead to an overall healthy and more active lifestyle that will benefit us all in ways that for now, we can only imagine.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I'm 30 today!


Yep, today's my 30th birthday! I basically did everything that I wanted to do today. Could I have done more..., better? Probably, but, I did with what I have, the time that I was given and the circumstances that revolve around me at my current place in life and made the best of it.

0600 - woke up to my dog prancing around on the bed "begging" to be taken outside to pis and shit.

0649 - realized that just 3 minutes prior (0646) is the time when I was actually born. Oh well, missed the exact time.

0630 - prepared some amazing french press coffee with high fat heavy whipping cream and sugar and drank up for the next two hours as I "half studied, half surfed the net."

0830 - took the dog for an hour walk.

0930 to 1100 - worked out; sprints, one arm push-ups, one-pull-ups, handstands, threw some kettlebells, handstands, planches, levers; basically exercised like a kid for about half an hour and then walked again (without the dog) for about an hour and FINALLY got some SUN! VITAMIN-FUCKIN-D!

1130-1200 Cleaned up my car and got it ready to sell.

1300-1500 Went to Anatomy and Physiology II class and got the opportunity to go on a rant about vegetarianism. "Soy sucks!"

The rest of the day was mine. I met up with my wife at Whole Foods and bought grass fed meat, raw milk cheese and set up my birthday night for eating some good-ass food. Grass-fed Ribeye steak (about 14oz.) with mushrooms, onions, garlic, white wine and balsamic vinegar smothering it, Goat Gouda cheese, and yes, A WHOLE DAMN BOTTLE OF Cappola Zinfandel as I listened to Sade and Andrea Bocelli by the fire; no, I'm not kidding. What a great 30th birthday!