Jasper Roberts - Blog

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011-12-31 Last Post (and CC workout) of 2011

My bet is that 2012 will have some things in store for us that are a good bit beyond the same old - same old. Some good and some pretty bad. The fact that I don't know for sure what those things are means I can only work to control what I have power over, prepare for the worst, and keep pushing forward with faith. Seems like a good attitude to me. 

Many, many thanks to Mr. Wade who was kind enough to visit my blog...it means a lot to me.

This year's last Convict Conditioning workout today saw me passing the progression standard for Uneven Pullups Step 7 with two sets of 9. Very excited to start in on the real one-arm stuff next year. I finished off with a set of ten 45-degree one-arm ring pulls.
I went back to uneven squats (my current work step) and did two sets of three. My calves are absolutely killing me because I must have worked them too hard a couple days ago. It's ridiculous, limping like a 100 year old man. Will make a mental note about that.
Finished off with some actual Convict Conditioning II neck exercises: feeling out some wrestlers bridges and preliminary front bridges. The wrestlers bridges were much easier than the front bridges, but all of it would be almost impossible if not for the wall work I've been doing for the past six months.

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011-12-30 Greasing the Groove

This is a principle, also known as "Synaptic Facilitation" which I learned about recently. It is attributed to Pavel (of Kettlebell fame), and is a method which helps get you to a higher number of more difficult reps of an exercise (pullups, for example) by stimulating the nervous system through regular and frequent low repetition executions of that exercise. It admittedly may take more time than the regular 45 minutes per day at lunch, but I am already trying it with Handstand Pushups. So even though today is a rest day for me, I did a few "Grease the Groove" reps...

A Full Handstand Pushup touching the floor with my head for a moment. (1 rep)

Assisted one-arm Pullup Negatives (2 reps/side)

Squatted Pistols (2 reps/side)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011-12-29 Re-Reading Convict Conditioning

I decided it was time to break out the bodyweight bible today and study it a little bit again. I happened to read over the section called "Consolidation Training". Wade gives a tip for when you pass the standard for a particular step (say uneven pullups), but are unable to do even one half one-arm pullup...which is where I am about to be pretty soon.

Consolidation training is basically trying ONE or maybe TWO reps of the new exercise everyday or sort of randomly throughout the week rather than trying to do a set of the new exercises. I really like this idea and I'm probably going to apply it to full handstand pushups as well. Anyway it's something new to milk and it's from the source.

Today I did two sets of one-arm bookcase pushups: 16/14. With these I know for sure I am stronger because I could barely do two of these (even with poor form) several months ago. This make me feel good. I did the bookcase pushups with excellent form and with no popping sounds coming from my elbows. Moved on to half one-arm table pushups. Legs not touching, but was able to do one set of 8 with pretty good form.
I finished with 11 Special Leg Lifts (Specials) I will elaborate on these later, and then sets of calf raises: 80 bent leg/80 straight leg/70bent leg.

Through in some 10 second twist holds and a 10 second L-sit. Active stretching with strength truly is the way to improve flexibility. Wish someone would have taught me that twenty years ago.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011-12-28 My First CC Injury

It's not taking me out of the game, but it hurt like hell. Today I warmed up with 5 V-Pushups and then did two sets of 10 Half-Handstand pushups (kiss the baby) with a basketball, then 2 full HSPU. I was trying to do some HSPU Negatives using yoga blocks. The yoga blocks were reccomended to me to get a fuller range of motion for HSPU. however, I'm still working Half-HSPU so this is challenge work for me at best. Coming down on one of my HSPU negatives I lost control and plummeted head first to the earth. Instinctively I went into an Aikido style roll, however being in my office one foot hit my desk causing the other knee to smack into the hard floor. That kept me on the ground for a minute.
I pushed the envelope on step 3 of grip training (Convict Conditioning II) and did three sets of 60-second uneven hangs (one arm bar one arm towel). Unfortunately the progression standard is FOUR sets. I'll stick it out and try again but I will be including one arm challenge work going forward. I balanced these out in the rest period between sets (2 minute rest between sets always) with fingertip pushups and spider hand extensor presses against the wall. Plus lots of stretches.
Bridges were surprisingly strong today. I launched into 2 sets of 10 full bridges in slow moving form. They felt good and did not kill me...making progress.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011-12-27 Coming to Terms with the Uneven Squat.

I was going to title this post something like "Acquiring Knowledge", or "Putting your Faith in Someone or Something"...but thought I'd get right to the point. Those following my blog know that I decided a while back to bypass Convict Conditioning Squat Series Step 7 (Uneven Squats) once I passed step 6, and proceed to work step 8 (Half-One Leg Squats) before coming back to step 7. After working my way up from step1 over six months or more, I saw and felt that uneven squats were simply much harder for me than half one-leg squats. Last week I passed the progression standard for half one-leg squats and I am coming back to uneven squats. Truth be told, the uneven squats are practically pistols themselves. I started in on one or two and my right knee hurt a little, almost felt like a tiny tearing sensation. Pretty much went away, but I got super frustrated and thought that uneven squats were bullshit...until I took some time to think through it. I still think that half-one leg squats are a step better done BEFORE the uneven squats, but I now have an appreciation for the uneven squats now that I understand them. The most difficult element of one leg squatting is the slow descent. The next most difficult elements are maintaining balance (especially at the bottom), and then pressing up consistently all while maintaining perfect form and posture. In a pistol (one leg squat), there isn't usually a lot of focus on the outstretched leg when you look online. In true pistols with perfect form you should keep that outstretched leg locked straight out in front of you and not collapse your thoracic posture as you perform the pistol squat. This is where the basketball comes in for uneven squats. With the basketball, you can rest your outstretched leg on the ball so that you are not also putting energy into holding the outstretched leg...outstretched. I had thought earlier that the ball was somehow there to help make the squat itself easier...it's not (at least in my experience). It's a minor help, but a help nonetheless and easier than the full on pistol squat. However, without working though the half squats and the intermediate steps I've blogged about the pistol squat would be nearly impossible to do with good form and dangerous to my joints.

And so, eight months into a dedicated routine of Convict Conditioning, I post here a gratuitous shirtless picture. I was fitted for a really nice suit yesterday and the salesman referred to me as having a "slender" frame. Perhaps...but I still felt a little like bodyslamming the dude.

Convict Conditioning - Eight months in.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

2011-12-23 Christmas Eve Convict Conditioning

Wonderful day today. Food shopping for tomorrow, museum visit, opening presents, lunch and dinner tonight...

This afternoon, I needed to get in a CC routine. I did sets of one arm pushups on the stairs: 16/14. Then twelve reps of flat leg raises overhead, focusing on lifting the hips high. Then 2 sets of 80 2-leg bent knee calf raises. A quick little workout before the day got going.

Friday, December 23, 2011

2011-12-23 The Pisco Sour

It's rest day Friday and I'm going to show you how to make a Pisco Sour. When I was in Chile last year I found people drinking them all the time, which was pretty damn sweet.

 1. Roll a few limes to soften them up. Then slice and juice on a juicer thingamajig. Put 2 Oz. into the shaker coming up)

 2. Crack and egg and separate the yolk.

 3. Save that yolk for breakfast tomorrow. Don't go wasting food. Use some olive oil to keep it from sticking.

 4. Gather some powdered sugar.

 5. Gather some Pisco. It's a liquor distilled form grapes. It's good.

 6. The eggs should be real eggs from healthy chickens, not shit from Walmart.

 7. Find a cocktail shaker. Mine is plastic but it gets a lot of use. Plus you can see what's inside. There are 3 parts to it.

 8. Pour into the shaker 4 oz. Pisco to say hello to the lime juice.

 9. Put into the shaker one heaping Tablespoon of powdered sugar. This sweetens up the Pisco and juice.

 10. Pour in one egg white.

 11. Add in four or five ice cubes. Shake it like a Polaroid picture, make that nice foam happen.

13. Top off with a few drops of the Angostura bitters for garnish.

 Enjoy by the tree. Feliz Navidad Bitchez!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2011-12-22 Kissing the Ball and Knowing Your Limits

In working Half-HSPU I realized I should have been using a simple Convict Conditioning principle all along (although Wade doesn't talk about using this method for the HSPU). It's called "Kissing the Baby". For pushups, you lower yourself down slowly until you just barely touch (or kiss) a baseball before pressing back up. This controls for distance and height, and helps control speed and pace. I am now working step 4 of handstands: Half-Handstand Pushup. I had trouble with these at first (couldn't even do one) so I began my half step of quarter handstand pushups. These involved minimal range of motion and were nearly impossible to repeat consistently so I did two things: 1) increased the number of reps of wall handstands at lower time duration, and 2) began Half HSPU work. Now I am at a strength level where I can utilize the kissing the baby technique.
Kick up onto the wall with a basketball below your head. Lower yourself down and (looking at the floor) kiss the ball with your nose or forehead, then press back up. This creates a consistent height to work your HSPU partials from. After I master these I will be ready for a baseball, and then the floor (Full HSPU).

Now onto limits...If I asked you how long you could hold onto a bar what would your answer be? I'm betting that you don't actually know how long exactly you could hold onto the bar. Well, I know precisely how long I can hold onto it now. Eventually your body will quit even if your mind tells it not to. Today doing grip work (uneven holds), on my second set of one minute holds my hands literally began to open up and I let go unintentionally. I probably pushed a little harder than I should have, but I'm feeling out this exercise still, trying to pass the progression standard and go to one arm hanging work. I will likely start doing challenge work with this exercise and then come back to this step and pass the standard.
I began Full Bridges today, doing an easy starters exercise of sets 6/7. All in all, I felt like I made progress.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011-12-21 Peaks and Valleys...Plus Some Explanations

Today I passed the progression standard for step 8 of squats: 1/2 One-Leg Squats. Now perhaps I can go back to step 7 and start working those. It was extremely depleting doing two sets of 20 half one leg squats.
For pullups I made progress on my first set, but this made the second set much harder. I did sets of uneven pullups: 9/6. I was actually surprised that I banged out nine uneven pullups (grabbing one wrist with the other), but for the second set all I could pull off was sets of 6. Finished off with neck work against the wall. I still haven't started in on the Convict Conditioning II neck work yet.
I had one guy ask me some specifics about some of my intermediate steps, meant to help people get from one step in CC to the next. Here it is below:

1. A "true" 45degree 1-arm ring pull
-With a gymnastic ring or handle attached to either the ceiling, or a high point on the wall grab hold of it with one arm. Place the other arm behind you. Lean back keeping your body perfectly straight until your body makes a 45 degree angle with the ground. Your arm will be outstretched. Pull yourself up slowly until your body is almost straight again, then lower yourself back to the same 45 degree position. I call these true 45 degree one-arm pulls because it's easy to think you are at 45 degrees when you are actually at more like 60 degrees (which is easier). You can adjust the angle to make it either a harder or an easier exercise.

2. Wall hold
-With your back to a wall and standing about three feet from it, lean back as if doing wall walks (from CC). Walk down only a little way, let go of the wall, and lift yourself back up to standing position without using your arms or hands. Try to see how far you can walk down and stand back up unaided.

3. 2-chair and Bulgarian Squat
(These are two different exercises):
-The Bulgarian Squat: Stand with a basketball behind you. Lift one leg, put it behind you, and rest your ankle on top of the basketball. Squat as far down as you can using the leg not resting on the basketball. As you lower yourself the leg on the ball will extend out and roll the ball a little bit. You can press off the ball a little but try to focus your energy on the one leg squat with the leg not on the ball.I find these exercises much much easier than CC uneven squats where the ball is in front of you.

-Double chair exercise: Sit down in a chair and place a second chair in front of and facing you. Lift and extend one leg straight out in front of you and rest in on a chair facing you. Stand up using the other leg which is touching the ground. Next, sit back down. Continue standing up and sitting down using just one leg to do so.

4. Squatted pistol.
-From standing, squat down so that your butt is almost touching the floor. From that position, extend one leg straight out in front of you and hold it there as you press yourself up off the floor with the other leg. This is basically one half of a single leg squat (pistol), it is the half which involves squatting up. It is a little easier than a regular one leg squat because you are lowering yourself down with both legs instead of only one leg.

5. V-pushup.
-From standing, raise your arms in the air and bend forward at the hip. Fall forward until your arms touch the floor. Your body should form a perfect inverted "V" shape.  Keeping your butt raised in the air, perform pushups slowly. On the bottom portion you should be kissing the ground with the top of your head. Maintain the "V" shape throughout the entire exercise. These are much easier than handstand pushups, and they allow a full range of motion compared to half-handstand pushups.

Monday, December 19, 2011

2011-12-19 A "Misc" Day

I had no energy to do Convict Conditioning today guys, perhaps a weak breakfast. Plus I needed a haircut pretty bad. And, my right shoulder is a little sore. So I opted to be lazy today and heal. I will see how I feel tonight when I get home, otherwise it's a chillout day.
Enjoy these pics in the meantime. The first is me doing some gymnastics outside the Georgia Sea Aquarium in Atlanta. The second was taken before teaching my weekly Combat Systema class. The photo was taken by my good friend Matt Lucas. Matt is an amazing dude. Go checkout his cool new website at: http://www.theopenmatt.com/

Saturday, December 17, 2011

2011-12-17 Wherever you can...

With my girlfriend still on crutches my weekends are still chaotic. We had a housekeeper come in this week so I couldn't do my Convict Conditioning in the house. Today was pushup and Leg Lift Day (and calf raises), so I found a set of stairs and realized I'm at the stage where I can get some use out of them. I did 2 sets of 15 one arm pushups off stair 4. Most stairs follow a relatively standard angle which is nice. You can try step number 5 as well for a different exercise. Either way it's good one arm stuff, with full range of motion.Try the stairs, feet together, zero twisting. Then go do the bench press and see if you can relate a bench press max reps to the stairs one arm max...I'm curious. Very curious.
For other work, I did two sets of 70 bent leg floor calf raises. I have to pause every 15 or 20 reps and stretch the calves for two seconds. Still, I'm getting stronger. I tried shooting some video but it was much more difficult than I thought. I'll get there...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

2011-12-15 Time

I haven't blogged the past couple workouts, it has been too crazy at work. I've been feeling a little depressed about not making the kinds of strides in Convict Conditioning that I'd like to or that I imagine I should be. Then again, I suppose I have to come back to patience. However, I have decided to step things up a bit with intensity and it has gotten harder. My energy level also happens to be down (rushing in the mornings, not eating enough, etc) which has made some Convict Conditioning exercises nearly insurmountable. But I continue.
Yesterday I nearly passed the progression standard for uneven pullups with 2 sets of 8. I also busted out 2 sets of 16 half one-leg squats and 6 squatted pistols with perfect form.
Today I worked half-HSPU 5/6/4 nice and slow and strong. Then did HS holds: 30/25/20/35 trying to keep my feet off the wall. I was unable to do a full HS pushup from a dead start with head on floor because I was already gassed form the HS workout. grip training went well, 2 sets fo 60 second uneven holds. I unintentionally went to failure on the second set so i decided not to do a third set. It's a strange sensation to feel your hands literally letting go of the towel and bar with no control of them.

Monday, December 12, 2011

2011-12-12 One Hundredth Post !

Hard to believe this is my 100th post. If consistency is king, then I have my eye on the court. I didn't blog Saturday even though I trained. I'm still settling into a weekend routine which involves helping out around the house a lot more since my girlfriend has a broken foot. Eventually I'll find a groove which allows for my workout AND my blog post.
Saturday I did HSPU and Birdges (and grip). Grip work was great, bridges were hard, and HSPU work was interesting. I realized I was doing my half-HSPUs too fast. Therefore, I backed down to 4 reps, but increased the sets. So I did 3x4 half HSPU. I did these slowly and paused at the bottom. It's fascinating how much easier they are when you're looking down at the ground. I also added four sets of 20 second HS holds. These are good for many reasons. Then I did one solid HSPU from a dead start with my head resting on the floor. I have video to post of this later. Thanks for one commenter who left me suggestions for moving past HSPU plateaus. I am looking into yoga blocks, though books could also work. These extend the range of motion.
Today I worked pushups, backing down my warmup to 8 full, 8 close, and 8 wall presses (each arm), then went right into one-arm bookcase pushups: 13/10. Finished a challenge set with 6 half-table pushups. For leglifts, Im still working flat leg raises over the head and touching the floor, but I'm focusing on the hip raise, which I'll have to post a video of for explanation.
And thanks to followers like Ray G. who have loaned me books- this extra information is valuable and has really helped me see things from diffrent perspectives.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

2011-12-08 Mixed Up Schedule

They say timing is everything and many people may think this refers to something that happens quickly, as in moving quickly in the moment to snatch an opportunity before it passes by. However, sometimes timing is a slow thing. I normally do Convict Conditioning at noon. Today I had errands to run so I figured I would eat a big lunch, and do Convict Conditioning after work in the evening. What a mistake. It totally threw me off.
I managed to warmup with 6 full pullups (overhand), then sets of uneven pullups: 8/7, then a set of 6 full pullups (underhand). I did standard neckwork against the wall, 25 reps front/back/sides; and then did 10 full squats.
When I went for half squats however, forget it. It took every ounce of will I had to do a few. It's at points like this where experience kicks in and I ask myself: Why am I training? Because if I am miserable then I can simply grant myself the authority to stop. You see, 90% of my workouts are hard but generally enjoyable. I can tell when I am depleted and there is no sense risking injury and being miserable. I'm doing this to build strength and health not to punish myself. By the way, if you like this blog please become a "follower" !

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

2011-12-07 Normal Day

Warmed up with 10 full pushups, 10 close pushups, and 10 wall presses (each arm); then did 10 bookcase pushups (each arm), and five half table pushups (each arm). I did my standard set of 10 flat leg raises, lifting the hips up and down slowly as the feet go above the head to touch the floor. For calf raises I did one set of 60 bent double leg floor raises. Uneventful day, felt ok.

Monday, December 5, 2011

2011-12-05 Spider Hand Exercise

I had a very challenging weekend, and just was not able to find time to do my Convict Conditioning workout over the weekend. Sounds ridiculous in retrospect but that was my weekend.
The photo you see above might look like I'm scratching my fingernails on a chalkboard but I am not. I bite my fingernails down, so I don't have much finger nail to do any scratching anyway. Rather, it is an exercise I came up with to work the extensors. CC2 author Paul Wade talks about the need to do fingertip pushups to balance out the anatomy in the hands and forearms from doing hanging work for grip. These are great, but for true extensor work you can add in pushing yourself away from a wall (or the ground) with your hands in the position seen in the photo above. Beats silly rubber bands.
Today I warmed up with 5 V-pushups, then did two sets of 8 half-HSPU, and two sets of 45 second HS holds. For bridges I did two sets of 16 half-bridges. Finally, for grip work I did two sets of uneven hangs (:50/:45) each side. For being out awhile I felt pretty good, especially handstand holds. Slow strength building is what Convict Conditioning is all about- from the groud up. As the legend, Mr. Mark Reifkind, has quoted on his website ( http://rifsblog.blogspot.com/ ):
"And in those simple beautiful movements I remembered what was really important in training; that consistency trumps intensity; all the time. That intensity is born from consistency. That one cannot force it, one has to lay in wait for it, patiently, instinctively, calmly and be ready to grab it when Grace lays it down in front of you."
I love that quote. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

2011-12-01 Dense With Tendons

Remember that wiry guy in high school who was really strong? He wasn't big but wasn't skinny either, just slim and had a strong grip, could climb ropes easily and walk on his hands, etc. Now, imagine being bigger than that guy but having the same TYPE of strength through and through....that's tendon, ligament, and fascia development. And that density is what will allow super joint health and incredible strength- a whole-body system of strength and coordination and flexibility built very slowly over time using the natural weight of the body. I'm not talking about body building, not talking about being pumped up like Mr. Olympia.
Today was my second day back after a long, lazy Thanksgiving holiday out of town. I warmed up with 6 full overhand pullups. Warming up with higher numbers tires you out, so if you're going for strength increase I recommend warming up with a set of 6-10 depending on the exercise. For my work set I did uneven pullups: 7/6, then finished with a single set of 45 degree one arm ring pulls (each arm of course). I did some neck work against the wall as usual, 25 pushes front, back, left, and right. Finally I worked squats with a 10 full squat warmup, then two sets of 12 half-one leg squats, finishing with 4 squatted pistols. The half-one leg squats felt very strong.

As a side note, I watched the movie "Forks over Knives" coming home on the plane. I highly recommend watching this movie. It has an impact on me and I have amped up my vegetable intake and toned down my meat and dairy intake a lot.