Anvil or Hammer

Where to go from here

Posted in Diet and Bodyweight,Rant by Mike on August 3, 2008

I’ve made several attempts at this post but none of them have gone where I intended. So I’m going to try and simplify it and see if it goes better.

So, I’m healed up, I’m back from vacation and I feel like it’s time to start again. Where to start?

I’ve gained about 15 pounds and I’ll admit that at least 10 pounds of it didn’t have to happen. I’d like to say I feel bad, guilty, sad or something but I really don’t. That said, I’m looking forward to taking them back off and then some. So, step one is to lose some weight.

I decided my diet can start no regardless of how training goes initially. In that vein, I’m cooking chicken breasts as we speak. This week, I intend to eat salad, nut, chicken and maybe some fruit 4 days out of 5 at work. The fifth day is a dinner of a coworker and I’m allowing some freedom. I’m also going to return to cataloging my intake. I realize it’s kind of anal and not normal but it helps me get on track. It’s work before, it works for Jason Statham, Henry Rollins, Scott Styles (not the porno one) and it works for me. So I’m going to use it. I don’t know for how long.

Returning to training is also important to me. My training is going to be a bit different. I am still protecting my back quiet a lot and am not ready to return to squats or pulls yet. I’m going to do some kettlebells, dumbbells and some chrome and fern type work. I’m not going to get as heavily into recovery in this first month. After I establish some kind of a pattern though, I’d like to do more recovery.

There, that was much shorter than my other attempts but I think it covers the bare bones of what I want to do. I’ll go with it.

Book Review: Finally

Posted in Rant by Mike on March 3, 2008

That was about the longest I have ever taken to read a book of this length or type.

Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes

I want to start by saying: to all the reviewers who said this is not a heavy, fact filled, detailed book, “You didn’t read the book!” This is a heavy, fact filled, scientifically oriented book. It covers digestions, metabolism of different macronutrients (including some of their divisions like fructose versus glucose), the history of dietary science and some of the social scene of science.

The easiest way to summarize the idea of this book is, when you consume carbohydrate you cause a biological process to occur that temporarily halts fat metabolism. When you do this repeatedly, you cause the process to halt longer each time, to a point that you may stop it almost completely. That is why you get fat and stay fat with carbs. I could go on to summarize that this process is the building blocks of diabetes, dietary fat does not cause bodily fat (something I have always believed) and that heart disease is often blamed on fat but that is only because of the tools we have used to diagnosis it, a better tool (which exists, has been tested but it terribly expensive) shows that it’s not fat and that insulin and blood sugar plan as much or more of a role in these processes.

I started reading this book as a skeptic. I still find myself skeptical of the whole low carb thing on some levels. Certain things really appealed to me. First, he is the first low carb enthusiast who has said what I felt one of them needed to say if they were serious, the mass production of grains for human consumption is the single biggest health mistake we have made. It also appeals to me because of the amount of science he put behind it, for once it wasn’t simply a belief system but a series of tested (although not adequately) hypotheses and it encompassed an understanding of biology and metabolism. I like that kind of stuff.

I’d like to get into more detail as to exactly how his arguments are constructed but I lack the 10 hours it would take to give it a fair chance. I’m also not going to recommend that everyone read it. It is heavy. If you don’t like reading about lipid metabolism versus how the liver metabolizes fructose, stay away. Vegetarians, this book has nothing to offer you, it’s going to recommend a lot animal fat. The small subset of people who eat meat and like BioGeek reading, this is for you.

Mental fortitude = stupid?

Posted in Gym Strength,Rant by Mike on February 8, 2008

Another lovely day at Dumbarton. I was feeling fresh as well as groovy. I still had a tinge of tightness for last weeks fun and games but nothing serious. I decided to play it smart but not too smart.

Jump Rope 3 min (rapidly becoming my favorite exercise of the month)

Front squat
X5 20K,40K, 50K, 60K. 70K
X3 80K, 90K
5X1 100K

30 minutes had passed, yes I took a full 30 minutes to do that, it was intentional.

Jump Rope 3 min

Military Bench (I had actually planned on the regular bench but I could tell my bench was going to be dramatically effected by my tightness of back
X5 45 lb, 95, 135, 185
X3 225lb
X1 275

Heavy Bag 1min on, 1min off X 2

1 hour had passed (still intentional)

Now we do some work
Circuit X 3
80lb Dumbell Deadlifts (pick up to standing, back to floor, drop, stand up, that’s one) x 12
40lb One legged dumbell deadlift (identical to the the kettlebell exercise) X 8
40lb Dumbell Thruster (front squat, jerk, that’s one) X 8

That was challenging and took about 15 minutes, I allowed ample rest between rounds of the circuit.

I was trying to think up a new circuit but was having trouble on the account of my body asking for clemency when some folks I knew walked in. a guy, his boy (both of them named Charles) and his daughter. Boy is 15ish and wants to just play video games so dad makes him come workout. Daughter is about 11 and wants to hang out with daddy but he’s worried about her overdoing it and messing herself up. Of course, he wants her to do bodyweight type stuff and she wants to go heavy like dad.

So I showed the kids my kettlebells that I had brought for just this occasion. They didn’t give a crap. No problem, on with the show. Girl is dogging it ’cause, well let’s face it, if all you get to do is push ups, you;d be bored too. To her credit, dad talked her into do “boy pushups” and despite a considerable sag in her body position, she was trying. So, to get her doing something I hit the Front Leaning Rest (push up position) and invite her to join me.

Dad tells her that if she can outlast me they’ll go buy her a video game she has been begging for, right this second. Thanks. So now I can’t lose. 20 seconds in I’m shaking and quaking. She, on the other hand, has her elbows hyper-extended in a way that makes me want to tell her to stop for her own sake. I continue to work the front leaning rest for what feels like an eternity but is probably more like two minutes before she starts to complain that it hurts. Indeed it does, but I can’t say that, so I smile. We go on for a minute more with her complaining and my brain screaming “Then quit!Please quit! I can’t quit.” Finally I beat her. It was probably 3 minutes. Yes, she was an 11 year old girl, she weighed in well under 100 lbs and yes, I’m glad I beat and 11 year old girl at a contest of strength. It sure would have been embarrassing to end this story the other way around.

Now, about mental fortitude. Big Rick was in on Friday as well. Big Rick is the quintessential middle aged, ex-has-been-never-was powerlifter, except he’s not fat but the rest is all there. He told me I missed a good time the night before that they were doing crazy stuff. So I ask for details. He mentions one armed deadlift, cool, I do that. Then he mentions this push up contest they had. It requires two broomsticks (I invite anyone, bone headed enough, to try this at their own risk, don’t blame me).

Lay one broomstick on the ground in front of you, about where you hands go if you are going to do a pushup on it. Take the second broomstick in both hands. grasping the one broomstick, place your the back of your fingers (between the first and second knuckles) on the broomstick on the ground. So, basically, your finger are sandwiched between the two sticks. Now do a push up. Well, Rick misread the look on my face and said “No, really it’s hard.” I replied “I have no doubt it’s hard, more than hard, it sounds like it would hurt.”.

“Oh, yeah, that’s what makes it hard.”

“No, that’s what makes it stupid. It’s that kind of dumb crap that gets stupid people hurt!”

“No, it’s mental fortitude.”

“Look, mental fortitude is about doing something you have to do or that has some kind of benefit but sucks to do. What you are doing is just retarded.”

Rick proceeded to insist on showing me how the exercise is performed, but immediately started to complain about the pain because he ruptured blood vessels in his fingers yesterday doing it. That is S-T-U-P-I-D. This exercise is no better than dropping a brick on your foot until it doesn’t hurt. Doing so will not help anyone and only invites injury.

End of rant.

**Author’s note, I am back dating this post two days to coincide with the events it describes.

Thank goodness that’s over

Posted in Rant by Mike on December 21, 2007

I had my last session with my PT last evening. I’m glad to be done.

Clearly he didn’t really know what to do with a relatively healthy person. In his defense, I didn’t go in with a lot of specific complaints. I had a few annoyances and more questions and we discussed those. I figured that every profession I had ever been around complained that no one would come and see them until they had a problem, there was no prevention going on. I figured the same was true of PTs. So I figured I could go in with a few little issues, he could do some diagnostics and just have a ball trying to tune me up. Make me the poster child for “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Nope, I was wrong.  The first day I was there I gave him a run down of what I do. Clearly I had lost him. He didn’t know what a kettlebell was or understand the difference between Strongman, Powerlifting and Body Building. He assumed I press overhead to get some kind of shoulder definition. Hardly, I press overhead for the sake of pressing overhead. I’m short, I have heavy crap and high shelves. Pressing overhead is a fact of life when you’re 5′ 8″. Even yesterday, he just couldn’t see any reason in the world why a person should be strong from more than a quarter squat position. Well, if everything I ever pick up is more than two feet off the ground, that would be super.

I have to admit that learning the PT way of things has given me pause to think. I don’t think the specifics of it are right. I do think you need to squat all the way, I do think you need to press overhead, I do think you need to be able to do pull ups (yes, he was against those too). However, there may be something to working more partial ranges of motion than I have. Having gone through the powerlifter and strongman stages that most of us do, I came to shun partial ranges of motion as “pumper crap” but maybe there is something there. I mean,  walk outs are a great way to prepare for a full squat. You just have to make sure you don’t slip into the quarter squat habit either.

All in all, my experience gets a thumbs down. I blew $100. I learned some things and I think I’ll get me some stretching an mobility DVDs over time and see what else I can learn for myself.

Speaking of which, Chris, your DVD arrived. Thanks. I haven’t tried it yet, it’ll be a weekend project.

Death in the family

Posted in Rant by Mike on December 2, 2007

Well, I’ve had another death in the family. So I’m hoping in my car an hauling back to the midwest, again. It looks like I’ll still be coming through Gripmas, just from the other direction. I’ll be out of touch and out of the gym for pretty much the entire week.

I don’t normally go in for this stuff

Posted in Rant by Mike on November 29, 2007

I don’t do forwards and that sort of thing but Brent asked that I do the “5 random things” pseudo forward. Hey, the guy asked, what kind of person would I be to just leave him hanging out there?

So here you go.
By the way, if you don’t care to read, thats cool by me. Go check out the best piece of writing on the Psychosis of a Meathead or some stuff on a Super Size Me Rebuttal.

  1. I’m pro-green technology but not for the same reason as everyone else. I think the environementalists are doing the right things for the wrongs reasons. I think they are the most self serving group of doofs and they have no idea that they are. It could even be said that I am either a “Global Warming Denier” or “Pro-Global Warming” depending on your definition of Global Warming.
  2. Ideal Job: Stay at home Dad.
  3. I don’t feel that the US economy is threatened by China. It’s apples to orange, they’ll never be what we are and we’ll never be what they are going to be. I do think the US economy is threatened by the US mindset. The good news is that we have the power to help it anytime, the bad news is we may not have the discipline.
  4. I’m a hapless nerd. Don’t ask me a question that I don’t know the answer to and think you can just walk away. I’ll spend 45 minutes surfing the web with multiple tabs and come back with more information that you knew you didn’t know. I’ll bring it up again two weeks later with more obscure facts that I learned in the mean time.
  5. I suck at finishing things, not because it is hard but because it is easy. Once I have made it easy, I’d rather just let someone else do it and move on to something hard for myself.

More than words can say

Posted in Rant by Mike on October 16, 2007

My First Tshirt

Brief Update

Posted in Rant by Mike on October 11, 2007

Just a quick touch base, there was a lot going on here yesterday.

T-shirts: They seem to have gotten a good response which is cool. Right now, I take $1 from each one sold, I’m considering dropping it to less, but I’ve also considered giving at least half of it to the Special Olympics. I haven’t decided. I also forgot to mention, half the reason I created them was so I could get myself a bunch of cheap T-shirts. I’ve ordered my sample one but haven’t actually bought any yet. So don’t think I’ve gone all commercial or anything. I just wanted so cheap T’s that I like.

Diet Experiment: I documented every single food and drink that I consumed yesterday. I’ll go back and add in some notes on the flickr feed later. I think that was a pretty good representation of my diet. As evidence of that, I weighed exactly the same weight this morning as yesterday morning, 235.8.

Tonight’s Workout: Long story short, my car is in the shop. The logistics make it unreasonable for me to try to get to UB tonight. I’m gonna do something with kettlebells, I think. I’ll plan on making my heart rate row Sunday.

Double Overhand Bending: I thought about Chris’s suggestion to bring the elbow together out front rather than down. I got up this morning, wrapped a timber tie and bent it. It was fairly easy, effort wise but very slow. I need to practice this on a lot of ties before I’m ready to move on to some real steel. I may have to post a tearing effort, maybe someone could help me get through this massive Baltimore directory I have.

YouTube: Brent over at asecondchance is starting a YouTube account: MSUweightlifting. No vids yet but when some get posted I’ll mention it.

Comments Off on Brief Update

Wrap up

Posted in Rant by Mike on July 4, 2007

A couple random things:

1) I bought my first pair of pants that were a size smaller, yesterday. Some really nice Columbia camping pants for Seneca Rocks in a 40 inch waist. Funnily enough, they may be a hair too large. I should have gotten pair of 38s and grown into them.

2) Kris of is having a contest. Show the contents of your gymbag and have a shot at a free T-shirt. Personally I love T-shirts, so here is my entry.

My gym bag contents vary by season and goal. The stuff I have here is what I am currently carrying with me in my bag:
My Gym Bag Main 
Here you can see my multitude of shoes: Gold Cup Oly shoes from E-Bay, Keen sandles that have somehow become my shower shoes and my favorite pair of training shoes at the moment. I have a towel, soap and deodorant, you’re welcome. I also have my gadgets: Rio mp3 player and Polar heart rate monitor.

My Gym Bag Alt 
These were a few alternate things, things I don’t carry now but sometimes do. Chalk bag, Chuck Taylors, Bag Gloves, 2″ dumbell handle and kettlebells.

Now go place your entry ‘cuase free T-shirts rock!

What makes a good fat loss workout?

Posted in Diet and Bodyweight,Rant by Mike on June 13, 2007

I struggled with a title for this. I wanted to ask “What makes a good cardio workout?” or “What makes a good aerobic workout?”. I know the answer to those things but those aren’t the real queston. I can look up Aerobic workout and find the answer to that. The real question is What is a workout that makes you burn fat.

Whether you believe you should eat more, less, more often, less often, before bed, after breakfast, not all workouts are created equal to burn fat. There are a lot of people that still feel that 45 minutes a day is the secret recipe. Most of them seem to be overweight. Some folks swear by high rep weight lifting. There is the kettlebell crowd.  The afterburn folks who do short intense workouts. Some people even swear by walking.

It seems to me that the only workout that isn’t suggested is powerlifting. I think we can see why. I sit at a desk all day so I probably don’t make my 10,000 steps a day or whatever. When I have walked more, I haven’t seen a huge benefit, unless I walked a lot more. Jogging is ok, I don’t hate it. Well, I do hate it but not as a workout, just cause I’m bad at it. I think everyone should be able to jog a couple miles on short notice but it’s not something that I think leads to long term success, unless you want to be successful at jogging.

Me being me, I like the theory that hard and heavy anaerobic training can burn fat. I haven’t found this to be the case. I think the primary reason for that is A)It’s really hard to push yourself for more than a half an hour to lift heavy, the body can scream really loud and B) your body will break down after a while of this.

I know the kettlebell folks love their kettlebells as weightloss devices. I like the idea, it’s certainly a fun way to do it. That said, I see two issues again A) this is basically a heavy anaerobic workout (See above for issues) and B) The lower back has to quit with the swings at some point.

So there are three camps, each of which have had some successes and a whole lot of failures in weightloss. I can’t see the difference. I have my favorites. I’m hoping to work a little of each but we’ll see.

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