Anvil or Hammer

Sit down

Posted in Goals by Mike on September 9, 2007

It’s time I had a chat with myself.

You got a lot going on right now and you need to get your head straight or you’re gonna screw it up. Considering the potential ears, we’ll keep this one limited to training but I’ll get back to you on the other stuff. Don’t think you’re getting off that easy. Here are your goals until the end of the year, quarter 4 of ’07:

  1. Bust that gut – alright boy, you’ve done ok up ’til now. Keep going. You need to hit 225 so you can garuntee and easy 230 for next year. The sooner you hit, the sooner you can move on. Through a combination of diet and regular rowing, this is doable. Keep your diet clean, fiber, protein, fiber, protein. You feel better, have more energy and lose weight this way. Keep hitting th rower three times a week to the best of your ability: Sunday- Long row, Tuesday – Sprints, Thursday – Light. Try to do a little something every single day.
  2. Look for the overlooked – Hit those exercises you neglect, even if they seem like a chore or a waste. Pull ups, rows, curls, tricep stuff and pressing twice a week. These can piggyback on the rowing workouts.
  3. Hand health – you gotta get some some hand health, with the hours you put in on the compy, you need to hit your extensors a couple time a week and you need to hit your flexors at least once. Do these on your off days.

These three goals for the next four months will serve you well.

Schedule change

Posted in Goals by Mike on July 23, 2007

Well, the summer semester is over. That means my schdule will change. Starting this week, I walk the dog on Monday and Wednesday. Tuesday, Thursday and most Sundays will be rowing. Friday is Dumbarton. I’ll continue with Dan’s HIT workouts as long as he keeps coming. After that, I’ll keep doing my 2 hour Friday nights but it’ll go back to an hour of olympic followed by an hour of “fitness”. I’m going to try and squeeze in a trip to The Hill every week and maybe a short snatch test or something.

Actually, this week will be a good test, with overtime and all. In a month or so, I have classes again. There will be three of them, all online. It’ll be really time consuming and demanding.

Help me get a plan and process

Posted in Diet and Bodyweight,Goals,Rant,Toys and tools by Mike on June 11, 2007

Sorry for the long delay.
So I gained. Not much but I gained when I need to be going down. I’ve been thinking about this a fair bit the last week or two, cause it’s not a new thing. I’ve thought of half a dozen excuses and possible reasons. In the end I decided that my diet and exercise PLANS are sound it’s the stuff outside the plans that is breaking me. It’s fairly obviously that when I get busy or get derailed from my plan is when I hold steady or gain. When I’m on, I’m on. One could argue it’s weak will but I don’t think that is really the case. I do think that I use the abnormalities of life as an excuse to deviate.
As I thought more about it, I decided it is symptom of a bigger issue. I tend to have that issue at large. I can have a heavy schedule and as long as it flows, I’m mostly good but throw a couple curveballs and I get all messed up. I tend to just stop, maybe I’m pouting I don’t know but I just stop doing anything. The more I looked at the diet and the bigger problem, I decided it came down to writing it down. I have this blog where I keep the after effects of my goings on but I don’t write it down before it happens.
I think I do that for a reason but not a good reason. Writing it down before hand means expectations and requirements. Writing it down before hand means I thought about it, knew what I needed to do. That also means owning up when you just don’t do it. Basically it’s an added layer of responsibility to yourself.

So I have decided, I need a tool. I don’t know what it is yet but I need a tool. I need something that I can use to write down what I am supposed to be doing. My first thought goes to a planner. I need more than just a calendar though. A calendar is nice but just scratchs the surface. I would need persistent lists that I could follow through and temporary lists for one day or another. It would have to be flexible enough to hold long chunks of text (like a blog does) but also to be able to hold tables of information. I know that most modern planners come with scratch paper and junk so maybe that could do it.
I tried to keep thinking though. Im not sure paper is as dynamic as I want. Now, bear in mind, I am a computer geek through and through. I don’t think I have explained this to you all but I spend about half of my work day designing Access databases. I’m by no means a master of the art but I’m getting much better. Knowing I’m a DB geek, my mind goes to the idea of making it a database project, it could be tons of fun. Infinitely flexibleand dynamic.
There is a problem with that though too, actually a couple. I need something that is ultimately cross platform. I can’t be limited by the fact that my laptop is XP but my desktop is VISTA or by the fact that I might be running it on Ubuntu. That almost implies that it needs to be a web thing, but I don’t know enough of the dynamic web stuff to create this. Another issue is that I need it now. I can’t invest a year in building this thing. I need to have it here this week.
So that brings me back to paper, which I’m still not sold on.
I did consider a PDA. I have had two in my life. One, I had a long time ago and it was when they were new. It was a piece of junk. I used it to download games so I could play checkers or something while I was in the car. I got a better one recently. It died in less than month. It’s still in my pile of computer junk I’m not using. It froze up and I can’t seem to unfreeze. It wasn’t sad to see it go. I tried to use it but it really didn’t seem to intergrate with anything well. It wasn’t any good at bringing in my email, I couldn’t look at my feeds on it. The list keeping ability was totally one dimensional. I felt like it was worse than paper. Although, supposedly it could play MP3s 🙂 .

So I am coming to you all. Suggestions.
What is the killerapp to organize your diet, workout, goals, education and life?
I realize that
A) no one system will probably be able to do all that so working across multiple systems is likely.
B) No system of organization can be effective without the human component.

Now to give you and idea of how I organize now.
Diet – There is no organization. I have a basic template of how I think I should eat and I just try to follow it. I don’t document the plan and I don’t document the deviations
Workout – Most of the time I make it up on my way to the gym. Half the time I document it while I am there. The other half the time I just try to remember it for later. In all cases, I try to write it down in the blog. It could be 2 hours later, it could be 48 hours.
Work – My work email calendar is Very up to date, with work stuff only. I organize by doing the oldest email first or whatever is actively burning.
Websites – not much, I just sit down and try to remember what it was I was trying to do last
Other – none
I don’t keep persistent lists like shopping or large budgetary items.
I keep temporary lists and notes on scraps of paper. Little corners or the back of something. I keep the scrap under my keyboard but sticking out until the task is done, then I thow it away, usually.

The plan stan again

Posted in Goals,Gym Strength by Mike on May 29, 2007

This week I start my summer semester at school. Just one class but two days a week. I have class Monday and Wenesday. With the gym duty on Friday, my workout schedule is pretty locked up. I’m gonna do gym lifts Monday and Friday. Wenesday will be kettlebells and bag work. I’ll try and squeeze in an additional workout, maybe on Sunday.

My goals and intentions haven’t changed. Mid to high rep work in the gym and kettlebells. Focus on weight loss first and strength second.

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The week winds up

Posted in Goals by Mike on May 26, 2007

ugh, what a week

135 X 6
225 X 6
315 X 4
405 X 2
495 X 2
515 X 1
465 X 1
405 X 3

Pull up 1, 1, 1/2
chins 2

Military Style Bench 225

Supported Rows 135

Dips Bodyweight
5 X 5

Overhand Curls 72
3 X 5

Standing Wrist Curl 45
Seated Overhand Curl 45
3 X 10
Seated Underhand Curl 45

Supported Wrist Roller 25
exentsors, flexors, extensors

I had aspired to more but wasn’t up to it. The reason, sadly, someone had those flavored tootsie rolls at work. I do like those a bit. So I got me a handful and enjoyed them for about 15 minutes. Then about a half an hour later my stomach started to not like me so much. My belly ached the rest of the day. Too much garbage.

I slacked on getting this posted for nearly a day cause I have been a wee bit busy, in a good way, this weekend. We have a couple more bloggers coming on board and I’m trying to get everything ready. I’m starting to get a process so this should get easier from here.

This weekend I’ll train one day but I’m gonna rest too. I’m feeling burnt. So I’ve got some wild caught, never frozen salmon in the oven, a tall glass of peach sun tea I had today and some Gary Numan on. I’ll be rested up in no time. I thought about kettlebells today, instead I’ll do some roller stuff.

The Pull Up

Posted in Goals,Gym Strength by Mike on May 15, 2007

It’s a basic exercise, there is a bar, now haul yourself up to it… yet it eludes me. A lot of people have taken an interest in the topic, so this is my best shot at a round up.

From Scott Bird:
1. multiple shorts sets translate well to one long set (so 5 doubles will help your quest for 1×10)

2. chin-ups seem to help (and are a little easier, as the biceps come into play). alternating sets between chin-ups/pull-ups works well.

From Chris D:
Basically do a pyramid schema. So do 1, take a break, do 2, take a break, do 3 take a break, do 2, take a break, do 1 and repeat as many times as possible. The breaks should be as little as possible. You don’t want to get near your max on these since your more concerned with endurance.

If it were me I’d probably do at least 3 days of chins/pull-ups. 1 day done with a pyramid, 1 day with weight (lots of singles and doubles) and then 1 day of doing whatever the hell you think will help!


One thing I probably should point out to you all is that my pull ups are awful, not bad, awful. I can do one, two on a good day. Those are strict but that’s it. I have been playing witht he singles, I can do 3 -5 singles depending on the day. A couple years ago I made a run at pull ups, singles, doubles, triples, whatever. At one point I simple strove for 10, no matter how many sets it took. The longest set I ever achieved was 5.

So that’s what I’m working with. Not an excuse, just factors to consider as I try to improve.

Oh and I can’t do pull ups any old time for one simple reason. No bar. Now that seems like and excuse and maybe it is but I can’t mount big bar, I live in a rental. I’ve looked at the various cantelever and doorway bars, those typically stop at 200 lbs and that’s a sturdy one there.

The future of the world, Part I

Posted in Diet and Bodyweight,Goals by Mike on May 10, 2007

So next week I start a new thing.

Time to lose some weight. I weighed myself yesterday 251. Not bad considering I have paid it no mind lately. Next week, daily weigh ins, like before. I’ll try to document them here. It’s all a part of the new plan. No matter what my mode of exercise is, over the next several months, my goal is to lose weight. I’ve lost about 15lbs so far this year, I have 15 more to go to hit my year goal. I suspect the second fifteen will be harder than the first. With a primary goal of losing weight I have to distinct Methods I will use:

A. Diet
Simple, watch what I eat. I want to maintain the diet I had rolling along for a while this spring. I ate about evey two hours, I ate small meals. Not soda, occasional ice cream or other treat but all as part of a larger plan. I’m not shooting for starvation, just a plan.

B. Exercise
Rather than onesy , twosey sets I ‘m going to try to train for 1,2 or 3 Minutes straight, then take a break. I want to get a little more muscular endurance out of things. I also want to get that magic fat burning power everyone talks about. Some of the kettlebell workouts I have been doing are a good intro. I want to do more of that with different apparati.

Coming soon:
and more….

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Posted in Goals by Mike on April 16, 2007

I’ve put some stuff in writing but not a ton. I’ll try to be fairly complete here. Comments are welcome

Guidelines – These are vague ideas that drive my goals but are not really quantifiable.

  1. Live a normal life – I have no interest in being on such a strict diet or training schedule that I can’t take my wife to the movies and have some popcorn with her or go camping with friends and have a beer.
  2. Remain active into old age – even older than Chris Rice 🙂
  3. Make myself healthier – rather than gain a lot of weight and go for max weight ever, lose some weight but still train to the things I like.



By age 40 (2019) – see my 100 X 40 list, this idea is stolen directly and with permissions from Chris Rice. These will become refined with time


By age 30 (2009) –

  1. Bodyweight of 225
  2. Waist (thickest area between hips and ribs) < 40″
  3. 10 consecutive pull ups
  4. 32K 10 minute snatch test >100
  5. Deadlift 600lbs
  6. Squat 500lbs
  7. Sandbag clean and press 300lbs
  8. 20 reps squat 315

This year (2007) –

  1. Bodyweight 235
  2. Sandbag clean and press 250lbs
  3. Standing press 250lbs
  4. 5 X 5 squat 350
  5. 5 consecutive pullups
  6. 32K 10 minute snatch test > 80
  7. 24K 10 minute snatch test > 125

Those actually came much easier than I expected. Although when I look at them I realize that I am not really doing a great job of pushing certain ones. For the time being I am trying to do what I can in preparation for the May strongman contest. That means that I want to do sandbags and low rep stuff in the immediate term. After that it is my intent to focus on losing this weight. 

To answer Stephen’s question precisely. I’m trying to lose weight to get healthier. It’s something I have needed to do for a long time but I was resistant to the idea I was/am fat. It wasn’t until I trained with Dan and Luke and saw myself on video that I realized how fat I was. I remember, a year and a half earlier, arguing with my nutrition professor that my BMI of 41.8 didn’t necessarily mean I was unhealthy and I believed that, despite my 42″ waist pants starting to be a little too tight. I had finally given up on the idea of getting back in the 30’s of inches because I didn’t think it was all that important. I threw out the old pairs of size 38 pants when I moved from Colorado.

I remember reading that guys with waists over 40″ were, correlatively, more ill than guys with less than that. I remember being able to grab a big old love handle on either side of my belly without trying. I did all this believing, completely, that I was big but healthy. The video pointed it out to me that I was wrong. I also realized when my dad was dealing with his cancer that his body wasn’t any different than mine, both short and stout. His body fat was a drag on his body and health too. It didn’t kill him, being fat, but there certainly seems to be a correlation between low general health and cancer. 

With losing my father to cancer and losing my aunt to cardiovascular disease all in a year I am realizing that I have to get more fit. That stuff will kill you. I have an advantage though. I like to workout. Unfortunately I like to go heavy. I’m trying to take advantage of my desire to lift heavy and get strong and steer it toward my need to lose some weight. So, were I kinda mumbled and grumbled about bodyweight in the past, I’m serious about it now. I don’t post it as much because I am intentionally going about it the slow way. I weigh myself almost every day. I initially thought that if I got down to 235 I would be a fit as could be. I’m now realizing that I was fooling myself. 225 is a nice number and it does drop me into a lower weight class in strongman so I’ll take advantage of that. So I’m shooting for 225. It’s a debate to me as to whether that is enough. I figure I’ll never know if I don’t go there and then decided. I was about 200 – 205 coming out of high school and wearing 34″ jean. So I doubt I’ll get below 200 anytime in the near future. It’s not my goal to get abs or look good with my shirt off or anything. 

Beyond the weight answer, you pretty much had me pegged. I don’t have the mental fortitude to do this for the rest of my life if I don’t enjoy it. Challenges are fun and they make you own up to your own weaknesses so I think they are a powerful tool in the arsenal of training. Competition is the same. I’m never gonna be a professional athlete, I’m not committed enough but I can have fun training for amateur competitions, there will always be another competitor training to push me. Chris Rice suggested on the Farm Strength boards that we should all compete twice a year and I think that is a great idea.

I also think that if you need 6 months to a year to get ready for a competition you are doing something wrong. Why are you training week after week if, when someone says they are having a competition next month, you can’t show up and at least perform? No you won’t be at your absolute peak but most of us miss our peak when it comes to planned competition.

While I’m at it

Goals of

  1. Post no less than 5 times a week
  2. Achieve 50 individual readers
  3. Become a resource to someone


2007 Goals of

  1. >200 individual readers
  2. >10 in house bloggers
  3. >20 fed blogs
  4. <250,000 technocrati rating
  5. Using affiliations and ads to pay for itself and anvilorhammer (pay out of my pocket for all this)

 So lads, lemme have it.

For those of you slackers such as myself, I expect to see it in writing, this week, send me a link if you it.:-)



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