Jasper Roberts - Blog

Thursday, September 29, 2011

2011-09-29 The Zen of Training

I found an excellent article by Al Kavadlo here about  the Zen of training. I really love it, please read it. One thing I got from it is the importance of finding a way to love training, a way to turn what once may have been painful and frustrating into something that is at least a little enjoyable. Amazingly, the progressive methods of Convict Conditioning are well suited for this purpose because while I might not have been able to drop and do thirty slow pushups, I can now because I started out doing simpler things and worked my way up.
Today was pushup and leglift day. I worked three sets of one-arm bookcase pushups (42" off the ground) 10/10/8. Then I did two sets of 3 one-arm half table pushups (35" off ground). One set of 60-second standing LL holds, and two sets of 8 hanging bent leg raises. Finished with some calf raises. Feeling relatively good even after getting pummeld in jiujitsu.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2011-09-28 Thankful...

I am very thankful for everything I have in my life, realizing that it can all be taken away in an instant without warning. I believe that every individual should consider this reality every day, if only for a brief moment.
I'm still working on pushing past the one minute HS hold. I'm working the V-pushups but I've started doing multiple sets of HS holds since I saw that Mark Reifkind was doing that. Check out his blog here: http://rifsblog.blogspot.com/  The guy is a God in the strength training and fitness world, and is one of the guys currently reviewing Convict Conditioning 2. He runs the country's first kettlebell gym near my office, and I intend to get over there one day soon for some KB lessons. Anyway, I did 4 reps of 0:35 minute HS holds, with the last one feet not touching the wall. I complemented with 2 sets of 17 V-pushups.
Bridges were tough, doing 2 sets of 15 half bridges, nice and slow and these burned. Of course I also did a Pilates class last night- I'm confident that the Pilates stuff will assist my Convict Conditioning.
For grip, I did the usual, warmups with 5 reps CoC S,T,#1, then worked the #1.5 eight times and the #2 3 times, not doing honest closes on #2. I held the #1.5 for 20 seconds, then the #2 for 13 seconds- ripping some calluses off my fingers (good times). I wasn't feeling strong on grip today.
Oh, by the way...this Blog hit 1,000 views for the month ! A record!

Monday, September 26, 2011

2011-09-26 Keeping it Simple

I got in two sets of 10 full pullups, a set of 7 close pullups, and 12 45degree one-arm ring pulls. I also moved the ring so that I could move my body at a lower angle, making it harder, then did 5 each arm. I think I my just try moving to one arm horizontal pulls (with a ring) and see what I can do.
Squats went well. I did 10 full, 10 close, 10 Bulgarians, 10 Double Chairs, and then 6 squatted pistols on each leg (alternating). My legs were shot after that so I didn't do any half-squats. My right knee feels weird lately in general and I don't want to push it too much and tear something.
Neck bridges off the wall felt strong to with a set of 20 front, back, left, and right. I need advice on some new neck strengthening exercises......

Sunday, September 25, 2011

2011-09-25 Nice To Be Back Home

I just got back home, plus I left my log book at the office so I just wanted to get a small workout in. I did a set of 15 uneven pushups, then two sets of 6 one arm inclined table pushups. I finished up with some calf raises holding a 35lb. KB, then a couple sets of bent leg Leg Lifts.
Picture is from Venice Beach.

Friday, September 23, 2011

2011-09-23 On the Road

On the road and it offers different challenges. Did two sets of 15 V pushups, 1:00 HS then 0:45 HS. Bridges were 2 sets 17 Half Bridges. With no CoC I just gripped a towel as hard as I could for five seconds for several reps. Sorry for the short entry today, don't have a lot of time since we're on the go!
Enjoy the picture of me on Venice Beach doing some ring work. Oh, and by the way, I have respect for people who can do muscle ups. Those things are HARD. I did one but just barely and it involved a lot of kipping.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

2011-09-22 Acceptance vs. Preference

Today was Pullup and Squat day. I passed the progression standard for full pullups. Applause....but the thing is I did not feel like I completely OWNED them. So obviously I will be continuing to work regular full pullups for a long time to come as I move toward one arm pullup exercises. I finished with six close pullups and also did two sets of 12 45degree one-arm pulls.
Squats went well, warmup with 10 full SQT, 6 close SQT, 10 Bulgarians, 10 double chairs, then dove into 10 half one leg squats each leg, and 5 squatted pistols each leg. Legs and knees feeling strong and healthy today.
So the pullup progression standard was passed using this bar at my office that I hate (new one in the mail). It's all I've got so I accept it....but that doesn't mean I prefer it. This whole concept struck a nerve with me because for years now I've been wondering how to reconcile two different concepts. That is, the enlightened masters of civilization have pretty much agreed that pain comes about through desire. Granted this is traditionally a Buddhist concept but it is prevalent in other schools as well. The idea is that one can reduce or eliminate pain by eliminating desire. Seems like a sound principle to me until you come down off the mountain and attempt to interact with the world. How can you even have any opinion on anything when you have no desire? If you have no desire, then you effetively have no 'wants' and can therefore have no 'preferences'. Therefore you cannot even profess to hold certain beliefes since you desire to hold those beliefs above other contrasting beliefs. The moment you declare a preference you have made an indication of your inclination for one thing over another. True elimination of desire would mean you have no inclinations for this over that, you would have fully accepted the world as it is, even the things you profess to be against as part of your own path of enlightenment. Just thinking out loud. It's a work in progress.
Man these pullups are getting to me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The One-Arm Pushup Progression...My Take

Convict Conditioning author Paul Wade asks us to master the uneven pushup (step 7), before beginning the half one-arm pushup (step 8). Even if you blew through the uneven pushups with ease, you may find it difficult if not impossible to do even one good half one-arm pushup. This is the reason that I added several intermediate steps in the pushup series, such as the one arm wall press, the one arm bar press, and the one-arm table press. You can easily scale down each of these into further progression steps if you wish by making them half-presses.
The key factors are:

A) The height off the ground of the point on which you are placing your hand, and
B) The distance you are standing away form from that point.

For the wall press, you can make it harder by standing further away form the wall until it becomes awkward. Then begin pushing off of something lower like a bookcase. Then move toward something lower yet, like a table. Eventually you will move low enough so that you are doing one-arm pushups off the lowest point possible (the ground). Throw in half one-arm presses into your workout so that you get very difficult half presses along with full range of motion presses which are still challenging but no impossible. It's gonna be awhile before I work seriously on step 8.

2011-09-21 The Secrets of Progressive Training

Today was PSP and LL day. I warmed up with 10 full wide pushups and 10 close pushups and didn't feel particularly strong in them so I thought I'd have problems later with one arm inclined wall presses...but I cranked out two sets of twenty and passed my progression standard for this intermediate step. This step helps bridge the gap between uneven pushups and the half one-arm pushup. I say 'helps' because I also have a step for half incline TABLE pushups. I realized today that since hand placement on the wall is about 54" and hand placement on the table is 32", I need to find something at about 42" to start doing what I'll call One-Arm Inclined Bar Pushups. I know these intermediate progression steps are helping me because my tendons don't pop or hurt like when I try to jump into the half one arm pushups (from the ground). Also, psychologically I am making continual progress, which has got to be helping as well. I think that spending many months on one exercise has the danger of demoralizing a person.
I did a set of 7 bent leg lifts, though I can't wait for my new pullup bar because the frame in the gym I hang from is not round and it tears my hands up. Also did 45 second standing single leg lift holds each leg, and then finished with sets of calf raises with 35lb dumbells.

Monday, September 19, 2011

2011-09-19 Insert a Day of Rest Here

My body is feeling a little sore and overworked so I'm taking today off from Convict Conditioning training. I closed the CoC #2 yesterday so I'm going to spend 24 hours resting on a bed of laurels. (Tuesdays I teach Martial Arts, so no CC tomorrow anyway). The cat likes this idea.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

2011-09-18 The Captains of Crush #2

Today was beautiful outside and even though I cleaned the apartment floors which seemed to take forever, I made it imperative to get outdoors. Spent some time in the park relaxing...very nice.
I did HS PSP and  BRG  today, and also grip training. It's difficult on the days where the path of progress takes you down a step before going back up a couple steps. I'm still at one minute HS wall holds, though I did  two sets of 14 V-pushups as well as a set of 15 quarter HS PSP and then four half HS PSP.
Bridges are odd things to do but they strengthen the back effectively. I did 15 Angled BRG, 15 head BRG, the two sets of half BRG using a pillow to keep the ball from rolling away every time.
Grip training proceeded as usual, working my way up. I was able to do six grinding closes on the #1.5 each hand which made me confident I could close the #2. I chalked up my hands and went for it. I'm happy to report that I closed that puppy (right hand for sure, hard to tell on the left hand). In the next couple weeks I'll get it on video because as they say, if it ain't on Youtube it didn't happen. I finished with two sets of wrist curls pulling up and lowering down a 25lb. KB (kettlebell).

Friday, September 16, 2011

Imposter Alert.....Really Poor Imposter Alert

It has just come to my attention that some ass-clowns have "authored" a new book with a similarly named title as Convict Conditioning. They say not to judge a book by it's cover, so I'll take that advice, watch their videos instead, and then wretch in disgust anyway. Granted, anything that gets people off the couch and working out should normally be celebrated; however, when a fitness program, a book, a video, or anything simply rips off someone else's idea and hard efforts, attempts to ride on the coat tails of a truly great work, poorly repackages it in a cheap, ignorant, disingenuous, and half-assed manner- I take exception.
Seriously? Convicts are taping together magazines into 15lb. bundles and doing curls? I've never been to prison and I have no intention of ever going, but I'm willing to bet good money that Paul Wade would be laughing his ass of at these things. Sorry, but doing a few leg stretches and crunches is not going to build strength unless you are an invalid. And crunches? Good God. If there is a God then Paul Wade will pay these guys a visit and show them what real strength training is all about.
If you want to write an exercise book for soccer moms, elderly shut-ins, young children, or the bedridden then at least have the integrity to come up with an original name, an original concept, or for God's sake have some knowledge of your material.

Updated Convict Conditioning Excel Spreadsheet Available...

Here is the link to my updated spreadsheet as of September 16:  http://sheet.zoho.com/public/nbednar/convict-conditioning-workout-journal-2011-09-16
I have some additional intermediate steps added to help with progression through the main ten steps. Feel free to email me with any questions about it. I recommend downloading it from zoho into excel so that you can modify the view settings and print it out. I have two exercises per sheet, and three different sheets. So I train pushups and leg lifts (A), then pullups and squats (B), then handstand pushups and bridges (C).  Every day that I do train, I just cycle through A, B, C, A, B, C, etc. I try to train every day except Tuesdays and Fridays because I'm teaching martial arts at lunchtime.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

2011-09-15 Late Workouts

Had some business to attend to today and yesterday, so ended up having to do my Convict Conditioning later in the evening instead of at noon like I normally do. Pushups and Leglifts day. I did 15 Wide Full PSP, 10 close PSP, then two sets of 16 one-arm incline wall presses, and one set of 9 half one-arm incline table presses. Did 15 flat straight leg lifts, then 6 hanging bent leg lifts. Finished with 25 calf raises holding 16kg KB, 15 same but bent knees, and then on 16 one straight leg.
Interesting thing doing calf raises with the knee bent- I'm a big fan and I think it develops much more on the leg than doing them straight. Give them a try.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

2011-09-14 The Sparkle

If you're new to this blog (hopefully you're not new to Convict Conditioning), you should know that I am a huge fan of the concept of progressive strength building. In fact, I'm a fan of progressive anything building. The reality is that anything of value in life is almost never obtained easily and quickly; and if it is the results are not often good. Want proof? Go read the book "Money for Nothing - One Man's Journey Through the Dark Side of Lottery Millions." by Edward Ugel. It is a fascinating, intriguing, sad, and pathetic story of people winning lots of money and then having their lives turn to crap. If you are following Convict Conditioning in earnest, then you are experiencing progressive gains in strength. Little by little with patience- the same way you build anything solid. It's hard in this day and age of expectations of instantaneous acquisition.
When I pull out my training log book and look at the steps and progression standards, I get a sparkle in my eye. If you are practicing anything and you don;t get excited about it, you're going to have a hard time coming back to it over and over.....and over....and over.....and over. Hopefully you too have a sparkle in your eye when you log your progressions.
I worked HS pushups and BRG today. Still hovering on the one minute mark for the handstand. I'm not fixating on it and letting it get me down though, because my intermediate steps are coming along well, AND so are my quarter and half-handstand pushups. The static hold will come in time. Plus as mentioned before, I'm going into handstands at least twice a day EVERY DAY. Bridge work was off today, I'm considering working around half bridges because the basketball rolls away with every single bridge. One thing should be noted though- when you do a bridge of any level, make an effort to pay attention to and to activate in particular the back muscles. This will help dramatically.Grip training today? Kicked ass. I'm still just doing Captains of Crush, but I got so damn close to closing the #2. I'm getting six solid honest closes on the #1.5 on each hand no problem. Can't wait for that new pullup bar to try one arm towel hangs....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

CC2 Release Date info...

I contacted Dragon Door to ask when they expected Convict Conditioning II to be released, and unfortunately it's not next week. :) this is the reply I got:

"There is no actual release date at this time, but we're hoping to have it out before the Holidays or early next year at the very latest."

Dennis Armstrong
Dragon Door Publications

I am bummed, knowing about the great information contained in it. Some guys who have been sent copies to review are already using tips from the book. I'm jealous knowing that a copy exists only a couple miles from where I sit writing this post.

Monday, September 12, 2011

2011-09-12 Love Hate

I have a love-hate relationship with the pull-up bar. I've got a nice one on order as the current one is crappy, but still- when you look up at it it just sits there staring back at you. Taunting you. Challenging you. Will you cower and back down and doubt yourself? Are you weak today?
Today I was not weak. I passed the progression standard for half-pullups with two sets of 15. I'm convinced that doing challenge steps and my intermediate steps made a difference. Afterwards I did two sets of 7 full pullups, then one set of 12 one-arm 45 degree wall pulls (with handle).
Squats felt great today and progress was obvious. I warmed up with 10 full squats, then 10 Bulgarians, 10 Double-Chairs, 5 Squatted Pistols (each leg), then 10 one-leg half squats. I'm thinking that I will go for passing the progression standard for half-squats, then go back to the uneven squats. I simply do not see how Wade's uneven squats are supposed to be easier than half-squats. Perhaps it is my body type. No problem though because Bulgarians and Double-chairs are carrying me well toward moving through the squat steps.
I finished with standard neck work against the wall, and added sideways neck bridges off the wall. Be very careful with these. There is no reason to push it too hard with neck exercises, the risks are too great.
Oh , by the way- I've implemented a new thing. Every day, no matter what, I go into a handstand twice for however long it makes sense to do it, usually 10-15 seconds. Since prgress has been slow in this exercise, I think it's important to familiarize myself with being on my hands upside down as much as possible.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

2011-09-11 Day of Rest

It's Sunday and I am resting...but not from my CC routine. I did a three hour jujitsu seminar and two hours of systema yesterday and was exhausted. Today 'm taking it easy, but I definitely needed to get in a CC workout. Watch my video today about one-arm pushup progressions. Those crappy one-arm pushup videos you see online with dudes twisting their body, and going down half way with feet spread apart.....weak. I'm working toward a regulation one-arm pushup. Here's some talk about a couple intermediate progression standards I'm using to get there. 

Keep in mind that by altering your distance from the wall and your arm placement, you can change the difficulty of the one-arm incline wall and one-arm incline table pushups. Unlike half-pushups, you exercises full-range motion.Stay consistent by using tape or marks on the floor and wall and use full, slow motion.
Today I did two sets of 15 one-arm incline wall pushups (each side), then two sets of 5 (one arm) incline table pushups (each side), then three half pushups each side. Leg lifts were ten flat straight leg lifsts for warmup, then five perfect hanging bent leg raises. I finished with a full 60 second standing leg lift each side (:20 facing forward, :20 to the side, then :20 forward again, no stopping or letting the leg down). Also did some calf work with calf raises holding a kettlebell.
It's still sunny out, I'm getting outside.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Video. Let's Answer Some Questions.

2011-09-08 Size

It's interesting how a person can get stronger without gaining much mass. They say that this happens when you turn fat into muscle, but what happens when you already have very low body fat? I believe it's in growing tendons and ligaments and fascia in a way that better maximizes force utilization.
Today was HS PSP and BRG day. I did three sets of 12 quarter HS pushups, two sets of 12 V-pushups, a 50 second HS hold, and one slow, solid half-HS pushup. Much harder after the initial stuff.
Bridges I started doing half-bridges in earnest, however I feel like they are silly after doing head bridges because they are so similar. I'll see how it goes, but it's looking like I'll be moving more quickly to full bridges sooner than later and then come back to half-bridges. I finished with two sets of wall holds, that is bending backwards against a wall as for a walk-down, and then releasing the hands from the wall and standing up straight.
Grip training was standard, still working on closing the #2. I definitely feel stronger but it is only a tiny bit more than before. I will be modifying my grip training soon after I get my new chinup bar. I read in the review of CC2 that holding your body off the ground by gripping a towel is the way to build grip strength (according to Paul Wade). I also saw on some forums that holding block weights is the way to go. I like captains of crush, but I will be experimenting with some other stuff. My goal is to close the #3 so all the help I can get is what I want. It makes sense (the towel hold and such), because apes are always hanging from trees and they have tremendous grip strength. I'm told that even a very young chimpanzee has far greater grip strength than the strongest man.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

2011-09-07 Deserving a New Pullup Bar

There are some things a man must have access to. Clean water, fresh air, and a good pull-up bar. The one I've been using at work where I do most of my training is crap. It's a swinging bar about 5 feet off the ground and it's really hard to do proper training with it. So I got the one at left which is a Delta Pull-Up Bar. Looking forward to putting it up at work.
Today was Pullup and Squat day. I tried for the half-pullup progression standard and missed it by one (2 sets of 14), then I did 2 sets of 6 full pullups, then 11 one-arm 45 degree wall pulls. Squats felt good, warming up with 15 full squats, then 10 Bulgarians (@ leg), 10 double chairs (@ leg), 4 squatted pistols (@ leg), and 9 single-leg half squats each side. I did neck work with 15 wall neck bridges (front and back), and then 10 on each side left and right. Breath control is important on these.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Convict Conditioning 2 !!!

I'm so excited I'm about to explode. Here's the link to a review of the new book (which apparently is not out yet). 

Monday, September 5, 2011

2011-09-05 More Standards Passed

Today was Pushup and Leg Lift Day. I warmed up with 20 full pushups and 10 Uneven Pushups each side. I did 12 one-arm inclined wall presses and then 2 sets of ten one-arm half incline table presses. My shoulder is a little sore now but tomorrow is a rest day so it's all good.
For LL, I did 12 flat straight leglifts, then straight on to passing the progression standard for hanging knee raises with two sets of 15. For extras I did 25 second standing single leg lift holds with a 25lb. kettlebell (foot about 6" off the ground), and then twenty 35lb. kettlebell swings. For calves I did 15 single leg calf raises (flat ground) holding a 35lb. kettlebell, and then 25 raises with both legs.
Labor Day weekend is over, but it was a good one.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

2011-09-04 Old Friends

An old friend called today. Haven't talked in over a year, it was good to catch up.
Today was HS Pushup and Bridge day. I passed the progression standard for head bridges with two sets of 25. Now, I did not pass the progression standard for angled bridges yet, so I will need to go back and do that. There are reasons for which I won't go into in this post, but will be addressed in forthcoming videos.Point is, I passed the  progression standard for this step.
As for Handstand Pushups, I did three sets of 10 quarter HSPSP, two sets of 12 V-PSP, and held a HS after all that for 50 seconds. Grip training was decent with another near close on the #2, including some other work.
I read somewhere that block weights were a good way to improve grip, so I may be getting some of those in order to find alternative helping methods other than CoC.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

2011-09-01 Surprises

I was pleasantly suprised today because although I felt like I was going to have a mediocre day, I excelled and made some great progress. Pullups: 2 sets of 12 half-PU, 1 set 8 PU, 1 set 6 PU, then 2 sets 10 45degree one-arm pulls. On the last set of full pullups I blasted up to the bar.
Squats: warmup with 20 full squats, then 10 bulgarians each leg, 10 double chairs each leg, 4 squatted pistols each leg, and 8 1/2 one-leg squats. I finished with 20 neck bridges form the wall facing forward, and 20 facing away. The journey of a thousand miles has begun and a few surprises keep me motivated.