Jasper Roberts - Blog

Friday, April 21, 2017

2017-04-21 Food For Thought

Still getting back after multiple delays...

I listened to a great podcast with a renowned orthopedic surgeon as guest (Roddy McGee) who said that "performing a skill-based movement with load to failure is inherently dangerous".  The reasoning is simple- if it's a skill based movement then by definition it requires good form to sustain the load. If you are working that to failure then again by definition you are incapable of proper form at that last rep and this is where the risk resides.

This is one reason why when I work handstand or other inverted skills I always do multiple sets of low-rep work. The last thing you want is to come crashing down on your head. Multiple sets of low rep is also heavily advocated by Pavel Tsatouline of kettlebell fame.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

2017-04-19 Out Sick

Trying to get back in the game but now I'm fighting a fever. Consistency will win. Either that or I'll die, in which case it doesn't matter.
Hang in there.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

2017-04-04 The Cesspool of Social Media

I suspect it's a human thing, a cognitive bias perhaps without a name- but similar to Dunning-Kruger. I'm talking about people on the internet being so self-righteous about stuff. Can you imagine a pianist who had only been playing piano for five or six years talking smack to and about a master of thirty years? And yet this is what we see online constantly. Especially in fields like "fitness" and "martial-arts". Perhaps because everybody has a body and everyone has experienced some minor conflict of some sort- give them access to the internet and BAM! they're experts.

And also telling is how unsympathetic some of these so called "experts" can be to others and their challenges. If you tell me I need to get more sleep but you're single with no kids and work parttime you can kiss my ass. You couldn't possibly understand my life. If you tell someone that all they need to do to improve their health is start working out but know nothing about their life, then you've just exposed your ignorance and demonstrated how you're unable you are to wrap your limited mind and experience around a much more complex issue- namely understanding something that isn't all about YOU.
Answers are simple. Solutions are complex. I appreciate real experts out there, and you know who you are if you take the time to understand your clients and their specific challenges.
Taking more time off to heal and then vacationing with family for a bit. Will jump back in next week.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

2017-03-29 Out For A Week

In my opinion it's less intrusive and more responsible for a man to take the lead on birth control. In that sense I've followed through with this and I am nearly healed back to normal (need another few days to start training again). Will keep you posted of course. Keep at it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

2017-03-21 Training in Solitude

Backed into the corner of a hallway...training.

It sounds sexy to everyone, "Training Alone". However my experience has been that those who say they enjoy being alone a lot are the people who most crave the company of others. We are tribal primates and for 99.99% of our existence on this planet, being alone and away from our tribe meant inevitable death in relatively short order.
Unfortunately we are fed the line in movies and books and popular culture that the ultimate is the "lone wolf" or the solo maverick. This is, from an evolutionary perspective, laughable. That said, there is the important time in a developing young man's life where time alone- prescribed and lead by elders - is the hero's journey he must go on in order to come out wise and grown at the end. This is temporary and is a different topic which we can delve into in great detail at some other time.
For now consider that you alone must come to terms with why you train, how you train, and with whom you train. The majority of my training time in life has been with others in martial arts. It has only recently in the past five years or so that my solo path in calisthenics has been alone. And it is worlds apart.
You must find the fire and the discipline to make gains and to bring yourself into the gym or yard or wherever t is you do what you do, but you must do it alone. Even in group training nobody is going to do it for you.
Food for thought.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

2017-03-15 I'm BACK !

I'm back from the depths. And sometimes true life is found by more closely approaching death.

Still making gains little by little. Had to take some time off recently but I'm going to be posting more because I love you guys and I love learning and I love calisthenics and studying the human mind and body.

My latest training change has been to follow a five day plan but continue to train three days a week. I'm also eating a lot more because I'm experimenting with increasing weight and what effect it will have on my progress.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Cycling In Bad Weather: How To Do It Like A Pro

Here's a guest post on cycling in bad weather. Some commonalities to running in bad weather. Personally I enjoy just going outside when it's less than ideal because it makes you appreciate the good weather. Plus it toughens you up. Camping in the snow or rain is good for you, trust me.

Incidentally I just started a new job and  am totally Jonesing to begin working out again regularly. It's been far too long and my body is definitely feeling it. It's pretty hard to find the space or location or gym near my office, but even more so finding the time is incredibly challenging. If you think that people just need to "make time for exercise", then you're a self-righteous and insensitive ass with more time far fewer responsibilities than many people. Working out is a luxury in today's world. Yes, we need to make time but this is not nearly as easy as it might be for your own life. Have compassion and have gratitude. These elements will make it easier for everyone. And now, the cycling in bad weather guest post...

Been focusing on getting fit lately? Most of us have. We all strived for that perfect 'summer body', but now winter is here you might be wondering what that means for your health and wellbeing. Is it simply time to give up your fitness regime and hibernate for the next five months? Ask a cyclist, and they'll probably say no. Cycling is one of the best ways to get your cardio in when the thought of the treadmill makes you want to cry. Plus, spending time outdoors in the fresh air is vital for our mental health as well as our bodies. But sometimes, the thought of getting on a bike in harsh weather conditions can be enough to put even the most seasoned cyclist off the idea of a ride. However, if you've taken up cycling for summer and don't want to give it up just yet, there are ways to continue to cycle even when the weather doesn't want you to.

Image source

Torrential rain

Even if you don't live in a country with typical 'summer/winter' seasons, you can always be at risk of a heavy rain shower. Before you saddle up, make sure you get into a positive mindset! Cycling in the pouring rain can be a lot of fun and quite atmospheric - as long as you don't let the wet get to you. If the rain is torrential, it tends to stay on the road in a light pool known as surface water. It can also gather on your bike's brake blocks. Both of these factors mean that your braking distance is going to be a lot greater, compared to if you were cycling on a dry road. Take this into account when cycling alongside traffic or when approaching junctions. Remember, riding in the rain does pose a greater chance of injury, so check that your cycle insurance will cover you before you leave the house.  You must also be aware that road marking and metal grates, such as sewer covers or drains, will be much more slippery during rainfall. Always take extra care when crossing them.
Image source

Strong winds

Riding your bike in strong winds can be both dangerous and scary. Unlike a car, you don't have the protection of a weighted body around you, so you are much more exposed to the elements. If you can ride in a group during windy periods, this is the best way to ensure your safety. But if you need to ride on your own during high winds, there are certain measures you can take to protect yourself. Alter your usual route so that you avoid main roads and instead look our for naturally sheltered roads or pathways. Countryside routes with tall hedges or bushes are great for this. Bend down closer to the handlebars to stable yourself and if you need to, grip more tightly on the handles. Investing in some high-grip cycling gloves can be useful if you live somewhere that is prone to strong winds.



Ice can be every cyclist's worst nightmare. In fact, it makes all forms of transport difficult; from walking to driving. If you can, check which roads have been treated with salt by your local authority, as this will make them much safer to ride on. Only avoid patches of ice if it is safe to do so - if you are in heavy traffic, try to stick to your lane. On a similar note, any sudden movements made whilst on the ice can prove disastrous, so try to keep going in a straight line.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

It's Fun to Test and Play

I've been away from regular training for awhile. That said, I wanted to test if I could....

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Advice on Preparing for a Marathon

This is a guest post today, but let me say a few things first. I ran cross-country in middle school and then after that pretty much never ran again. Reason? Mainly because I find it incredibly boring, but more-so that I fear it will make me skinnier (lose weight). And who here wants to be too skinny?

The thing is, I'm pretty sure that eventually I will come around to running at least to some degree. Reason? Because I learned that the human being is well adapted from an evolutionary perspective to run. It's in our DNA. I recommend reading The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease by Daniel Lieberman. In it, you will learn that the ability to travel quickly by foot over long distances was one of the crucial evolutionary steps that allowed homo sapiens to be so successful. 

Anyway, keep up your personal training and enjoy today's post-

Whether it’s for charity or a personal goal, running a marathon is something many people aspire to accomplish. The idea of improving their endurance or helping a cause while spending time outside can be incredibly appealing. But many of them don’t realize just how hard marathon training can be. You can’t just turn up on the day and expect to complete such a long distance run with no prior training. This will only increase your chance of illness, injury and potentially death. While the run itself is a major factor, the planning and preparation beforehand is what will get you over the finish line. You need to work hard and train regularly for months to get you completely ready for race day. It requires physical and mental strength as well as plenty of enthusiasm and patience. So if you think you are up for the challenge, use the advice in this guide to help you prepare with ease.

Plan a running schedule

Firstly you need to decide what you want your primary goal to be. It could be getting a personal best, raising as much money as you can or just getting round the course in one piece. Once, you’ve decided this you need to start creating a running schedule. This is something that you need to be realistic about. If you do too much at once, you’re likely to injure yourself. But not doing enough could stop you from making a lot of progression. It’s always better to start off slow and gradually increase your mileage. For help on creating an effective beginners running schedule visit http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_4/130.shtml. You might also want to enlist the help of a running coach to help you stay on target. As well as training sessions, you schedule also needs to include plenty of rest periods too.

It can be difficult to combine your running schedule with your other commitments. There will be times when your work and home life will prevent you from sticking to your schedule. When this happens, it can be easy to feel dishearten and want to give up. But you just need to manage your time and find a healthy balance. You could run before work or during your lunch hour. You could even ask a friend or your partner to go to the gym or a strength building class with you. This can help make your training more enjoyable, and you’ll be more likely to stick to it.

Listen to your body

Injury is something that almost all marathon runners will experience. This can often be caused by overtraining and incorrect running techniques. This is why it is vital that you listen to your body throughout your training. Never compare yourself to others and focus solely on your own abilities. If you find it difficult to run six miles, don’t start to force yourself to run seven. Instead, alter your training to make it easier to achieve over time. If you feel tired or if something doesn’t feel right, stop and give yourself time to rest sufficiently. Remember that quality runs are always better than smaller quantity runs. So don’t be too hard on yourself. Your training will only be successful if you listen to your body and consider what is best for it at all times.

As well as listening to your body, make sure you have support around you too. Whether it’s your family or a local running group, they can help you immensely throughout the process. There will be days when you don’t feel like training hard. A good support network can give you the motivation to proceed while also helping you deal with any issues you might be having. Supportive parties such as physios and coaches can ensure you are in the right condition to run your marathon. In addition to that, they can help you avoid injury and keep you healthy with diet plans and check ups. For an idea of the food you should be eating see http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/marathon-meal-plans.

Get your equipment sorted

In the run up to your marathon, it’s vital that you have the right equipment to use. This should enhance your training as well as providing comfort and support. Ill-fitting or unsuitable training and running equipment can cause discomfort and injuries such as back pain or sprains. As well as putting your training on hold they could also prevent you from competing altogether. So take a look at your current equipment to see if it’s up to par or if there is anything that needs replacing. You may also find that there are some items you are missing which could increase your technique and comfort levels too.

Above all else, you need to have comfortable running shoes. There is nothing worse than wearing shoes don’t fit or feel tight when you are running such a long distance. You also need to have supportive running tops, shorts or legging. These all vary in quality and price, so always buy the best you can afford. Other runners might also suggest gels, running belts and hydration packs that you might want to consider too. You can find all of this and more from retailers like http://www.roadrunnersports.com/.

During your training, you might also benefit from using a treadmill for days when you are unable to run outside. These vary in size, price, and style but could be a useful aid that helps to improve your technique and endurance. To find out more about suitable treadmills, see http://outdoorextravaganza.com/proform-505-cst-treadmill-review/. The more testing and research you do in advance, the easier it will be to find the perfect equipment for your run.

Take what you have learned from this guide and use it to help you start preparing for your upcoming marathon. There is no denying that it will be hard work and push you both physically and mentally. But the feeling of accomplishment when you cross that finish line will be unlike anything you’ve experienced before. So train safely and prepare in advance to help make this the first marathon of many.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The End of Lower Back Pain - My New Secrets

On one of my last posts I was openly frustrated by some back pain and my inability to "fix it". After going back and intensely revisiting the issue, I have since come up with a movement sequence which lasts about 15 minutes and has completely revolutionized how I think about the human body.

I did not just "invent" these movements. Each of these stretches and strengthening movements is based on solid work by experts in various fields. I'm simply utilizing these a little bit each day to get the maximum out of my limited time that I have.

This movement sequence of stretching and gentle calisthenics has virtually ELIMINATED my back pain and discomfort and I have tested it out by stopping and starting to see if it was a fluke. It's not.

It's truly amazing.

I have distilled down hundreds of hours of videos and online tutorials, and thousands of pages of text into a sequence of stretches and movements that can easily be done first thing in the morning because it is a gentle series of moves.

The simple fact is that there are only three possible reasons for back pain: either certain parts of your body are too weak, too tight (not enough range of motion), or you have an injury (or pre-existing condition). Now I'm not a doctor, so I'm obligated to say that before starting any kind of new movement or exercise or even stretch you should probably consult with your physician. If you're good to go then let's get into it.  

NOTE: I am asking for a donation if you like the video and get some value from it (See "Donate" button below). It's up to you. You're free to watch it and share it, but please share this entire blog post instead of just the YouTube link. I want people, no I NEED people to read the entire text to be educated fully, and to get all of the information- some of which is described here and not contained in the video. Plus, I'd like others to have a chance to donate if they get some value from the video. I have spent a lot of time researching and practicing and learning in order to finally arrive at this information. I also really want to help others who are experiencing the same back discomfort and don't know where to turn. It's easy to get frustrated with back pain.

You should know that I didn't come up with all of this on my own. What I mean is that I am sampling movements from some of the best teachers and experts in the world as well as a few movements assigned to me by a physical therapist. Organizations and People like Dr. Stuart McGill, Dr. Eric Goodman, Ido Portal, Kit Laughlin, Kelly Starrett, Pavel, Joan Vernikos, Wim Hoff, Esther Gokhale, Coach Christopher Sommer (Gymnastic Bodies, and Ryan Hurst (Gold Medal Bodies). Google these folks for their amazing works and knowledge. I am standing on the shoulders of giants. Please note that I am not claiming any affiliation with any of these people or organizations and I am not claiming that they endorse anything I have to say- only that I have studied much of the available online content to arrive at a pattern sequence that works very well for ME. I'm hoping that that you too can benefit from it.

One more note- this sequence is ideal for not only inactive people just wanting to move their pain levels into something manageable, but it is also ideal for the accomplished athlete who wants to make sure that their spine is prioritized and that they keep their back, as is popular to say nowadays, "bulletproof". Also note that I am a married, working father of two young children. My wife is a professional who works more than full-time too, and we both commute. There is an extremely limited amount of time to do anything other than dishes, laundry, and pickup after the kids- so I understand what it means to "not have enough time" to workout or stretch or whatever...more than most single folks can comprehend.

I will tell you this honest truth: If you do nothing you will continue down a path of inevitable bodily disaster. This is the hard reality. The good news is that even small and gentle movements that seem too easy too amount to anything can and will change your life when done consistently. The beauty of my movement sequence is that it only takes about 15 minutes to complete and it is gentle enough to do either at four o'clock in the morning when you're exhausted and half-asleep, or after a long day of work and home-life at eleven o'clock at night. Plus, you only need a small space on the floor and a bar or rope to hang from (don't worry- no pull-ups here!). No fancy equipment or gadgets to sell you.

So take a look at the video and let me know how it goes. Again- please donate whatever you want if this video helps you, because I really want to know that others are getting value from my research and that they're overcoming their own back pain like me.

Lets' begin! 

First some explanations. You should know that people in the modern world sit WAAAAY too much and that this, along with a sedentary lifestyle, is absolutely and undeniably causing physical problems in the human body. OUR human body- because believe it or not, you are a human being.

This sitting problem is true even for athletes.

So educate yourself about this problem of too much sitting on your own and start addressing this as well. Some people mentioned in the list above are great starting points. My movement sequence is not about working out- it's about mindfulness of what your body is doing or not doing. It's about addressing the root of the problem and undoing the damage. The intent of stretches is to increase your usable range of motion, not to make you sit on the floor in pain wondering when you'll be finished. Stretching has a bad rap and is not understood by most people- we'll get into this in the video. Next, the spine (and the entire body for that matter) was conditioned over many thousands of years of evolution to function and move in certain ways.

The body is adaptable yes, but at some point you can be applying to much stress from living in the modern world (sitting, hunching over a smart phone, etc) that the body begins to adapt for the worse. You will feel this pain, especially when consistently applied. Look at your feet for example. The feet of people in the modern world are weak and delicate for the most part. The reason is simple. If you break your arm what happens? They put a cast on it. What happens after weeks in a cast? Your arm atrophies a bit, becomes weaker and more delicate. This is similar to a slightly lesser degree to what has happened to your feet from wearing socks and shoes every day of every week of every month, year after year- your foot has essentially been in a cast. That's why it has a poor range of motion which unfortunately affects the rest of the body. You can't bend your ankles enough so you can't fully squat. It also affects your walking which puts more negative stress on your body. Your hips are likely also locked into a "sit" position so they don't have the necessary range of motion either. The result from this also guarantees that you can't squat and that your lower back is locked up tight. More pain, more vulnerability.

For the athletic types here a side note- it's important to point out that it's completely unnecessary to do large numbers of reps when dealing with bulletproofing your spine. Science has already shown us that you can gain as much cardiovascular benefit from a twenty minute (or less) high intensity interval as you can generally get from an hour workout on a treadmill or bike. The dangers of over-training, the silliness of wasting time, and the unnecessary wear and tear to joints cannot be overstated....especially when dealing with the spine.

Generally speaking, because we live in the modern world there are three main things I have found that need to happen in order for your back to become pain free: you need to both strengthen and practice utilizing your posterior chain, you need to strengthen your full anterior chain, you need to dramatically increase the range of motion of your hips (specifically the Psoas), and you need to lengthen your hamstrings. That's the simple concept. But just saying it is meaningless without an intelligent plan.

And that's why I now have a intelligent plan.

To dumb it down a bit further, consider this: you're probably not positioning and moving your body every day the way that it evolved to be positioned and moved. After literally thousands of  years of evolutionary optimization the human body arrived at a place in its design and function. Then, in less than a blink of an eye on an evolutionary scale we find ourselves using our bodies completely differently. It's characteristic of physical shock.

To make it worse, the muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons that you need to be using are probably not strong enough and probably don't have enough range of motion anymore because they haven't been used enough in the right way. Again, too much sitting and also not enough moving are the primary culprits but not the only ones. Intense one hour workouts everyday might help some but that alone won't cut it. Yeah you are strong and can throw barbells into the air. That's great, but you also need to be consistently putting special attention on UNDOING what all of us in the modern world do too much of: sitting motionless.

Waking in the morning from an eight hour lying position, you quickly find yourself sitting down to eat and then soon afterwards sitting in a car to get to work where you sit again for another eight hours. You may go to the gym but when you go home you'll sit in the car and when home, sit down to eat and then sit down to watch TV or play. Sure you can kid yourself with outlying examples of how this is not you because you workout at lunch, but for the most part, it is you. It's me. That's why I am working on slowly changing it.


Wishing you health, wisdom, and strength.

The list of movements (The order is important):

Quadruped Circles
Child Pose
Downward Dog
Squat Hold
Squat to Standing Bend
Hindu Squats
Plank Walks Side-to-Side
Side Planks
Psoas Stretch
Foundation Exercise
All-Fours Arm/Leg Extension
Cobra Foundations
Hollow Body Holds
Jefferson Curls

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Unavoidables of Body Movement

Ahh, the good 'ol kids car seat. A Google search involving this in vurtualy any way will guarantee a plethora of websites dedicated to making sure that you can properly istall the seat into your car. Funny thing is, unless the car seat is really old (in which case you shouldn't even be using it) then it's about the simplest thing to install (at least in cars newer than fifteen years old). So if you're driving an antique car and wanting to install an expired car seat then you may need some help with that. But that's not what this post is about.

Some types of movement are pretty much unavoidable. If you want to empty your bowels then you'll need to sit or squat unless you're hospitalized). If you want to put dishes in the dishwasher then you need to bend over.  And if you want to put your kid in their car seat then you will need to not only bend over, but you'll also have most all of the weight at the ends of your arms with arms at least partially (if not fully) outstretched. This is arguably a bad way to position the body and goes against the advice of about every physical therapist and trainer. And yet...there is no real way around it. If you could see my car and setup (correctly installed) there is virtually no way around it.

So what can you do? If you must endure something  unavoidable then the soluton is to prepare the body and also heal the body.

First consider from the above picture, that the longest duration for holding a 20 kg weight with outstretched arms is 1 min 26.14 sec and was achieved by Patrik Baboumian (Germany) on the set of Guinness World Records -- Wir Holen Den Rekord Nach Deutschland, in Europa Park, Rust, Germany, on 17 July 2012. A long way of saying that some guy held a 44 pound weight with outstretched arms for a minute and a half. Now also consider that a puny old guy like myself needs to hold a 15kg weight with outstretched arms AND with back hunched over and extended into the back of a car for as long as four seconds. You have a potential recipe for back pain disaster there if you don't stay mindful of your body.

There is a lot to be said for putting your body into compromising positions and I am a big fan of off axis loading, however I highly recommend that you approach these movements gently and slowly over time. I've written about this before with regard to ankle movements but the principle applies to other parts of the body.

So when you must move the body into potentially painful positions, then prepare the body properly and also take time to rest and heal it. You can also just walk everywhere and avoid car seats altogether. That would be really nice.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Genetically Gifted or Just Really Dedicated (or both) ?

 Kohei Uchimura (above) was the 2012 Men's Gymnastics Gold Medalist. Genetically gifted? Perhaps. But I urge you not to get too hung up on letting your DNA or rather, your concept of your DNA, determine what you are capable of. The reason? It's because individuals like this dedicate insane amount of their life to their craft. And that goes a really long way.

Consider what most single young guys are doing on a Friday evening- going out to a bar or party, or perhaps going out on a date. You'll find that the dedicated folks still make time to practice their craft. Below is a picture of me in the crowd from six years ago (fifth from the right- top row). Jujitsu class on a Friday night. Dedication to the craft.

10th Planet San Francisco - 2010 w/Eddie Bravo visiting Denny's class
And when  looked back at my life from age 20 to roughly age 40, the time I put into being on some sort of martial arts mat added up....a lot. Assume only four days a week every week for twenty years (this assumes no weekend training or seminars which is totally not the case). That's over 4,000 classes. Let's be even more conservative and say that it's really only half that. It's still two thousand hours dedicated to studying something besides my day job or the television screen or the bottom of a beer bottle. And this says nothing about the money I've spent training martial arts over the years- I've estimated it to be at least $20,000.

So keep doing your thing and stay dedicated. Your approaches and your specific passions may change slightly over time as you gain wisdom or as your circumstances change but you must continue to put one foot in front of the other until your last step into the grave. That's a famous Zen saying...just kidding. I made it up just now.