Monday, April 30, 2012
I considered keeping this information to myself because I think it has the potential to give amazingly faster gains more easily in less time, but I want you guys (loyal bodyweight and convict conditioning fans) to progress as well.
So it's not anything radical, but it is a different approach from HOW I'm currently working CC. Already after a single workout I can feel it in my body, the effectiveness of this approach. I was turned onto a little book from a blog fan, so I downloaded it and read it last night. I don't necessarily agree with everything in it like running up and down stairs, but the author's main points are spot-on. And the reason I believe this is true, is that it echoes what other guys who I respect have said before. Guys like Mark Reifkind, Adam Glass, Ross Enamait, Pavel Tsatsouline, and others.
Essentially, you want to increase volume. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go research the term as it applies to fitness. The huge caveat is that you must not degrade your nervous system by overworking. Coach Wade and others have said this before, it's not new. You need to employ the "grease the groove" technique, which in fancy terms is "synaptic facilitation"; again, nothing new. The key I have found is in HOW to do these things, and that's what I found this little book to give- the missing link. Namely, you must find a timing sequence that works best for you where you can get maximum volume in minimum time, using minimal effort overall, but maximum effort during the exercises (but neven to failure). Got it ? Heh heh.
After one year or more, you WILL hit walls in Convict Conditioning following it the standard way. Then, it is time to employ some new tools.
Here's how I've changed my routine (as an example):
For pullups, instead of doing:
-Warmup with Full Pullups 10/10 with 2 minute rest in between
-Work set of Half-Archer pullups 3/2/2 with 2 minutes rest in between
-Challenge set of horizontal pulls 25/15 with 2 minutes rest in between
-Warmup with Full Pullups 5/5/5/5/3 with only 30 seconds rest in between
-Work set of Full-Archer pullups 2/2/1 with only 30 seconds rest in between
-Challenge set of horizontal pulls 15/12/10/8 with only 30 seconds rest in between
And for squats, instead of doing:
-Warmup with Full Squats 25
-Work set of Uneven Squats 6/4 with 2 minutes rest in between
-Challenge set of Half-One Leg Squats 10
-Warmup with Full Squats 10/10/10 with only 30 seconds rest in between
-Work set of Uneven Squats 3/3/3/3 with only 30 seconds rest in between
-Challenge set of Half-One Leg Squats 5/4 with only 30 seconds rest in between
I take 2 minutes rest between STEPS (warmup, work, challenge, etc.) and 4-5 minutes rest between EXERCISES (squats, pullups, neck, etc). But I take only 30-40 seconds rest between SETS- this is KEY. I'm convinced this is the way to go. Increase volume over time, maximize effort during exercise (never to failure), and minimize neural depletion. If you've hit a wall, go try this approach. I can't wait to see what I'm doing in another three months.
Oh, and by the way, my workouts are now shorter if you can believe it. About 40-50 minutes instead of 60-70.
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Friday, April 27, 2012
It's official...I'm a married man! What a wonderful, fun, exciting, and fantastic time. I'm very happy and honored to have my beautiful bride Stephanie by my side. We had a mini-honeymoon in Las Vegas, with larger trip to be figured out later this year.
Now onto business. I took off a good week and a half from training. Ten days of no training at all, just sleeping and drinking, and eating a lot; and guess what? Today, my first day back and I essentially nailed a repeat of my last workout without much stress. In fact, the weird thing is that I do not feel any of the multiple but very minor discomforts in my joints. I don;t know if that means that my joints have become stronger and more healed over the break (likely), or if time off has given me something of a buffer in which case I'll be sore as hell tomorrow (we'll find out).
At the wedding I had a chance to speak to several people about CC. Seems that people are coming around to appreciating bodyweight fitness. Also got another email from Paul Wade. Yes, CC3 is coming out this summer!
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
I'm back from a mini-honeymoon in Las Vegas with my beautiful wife. It was a blast, but I'm happy to be back home. For the die-hard Convict Conditioning fans, I'm posting some fitness fun pics while I was out and about.
Freestanding Handstand above Miracle Mile
L-Sit Outside the Luxor
Bridge with the Pyramid in the background
Some extra work outside Caesar's Palace
Pullups by Cosmopolitan
Pistols with Planet Hollywood and Paris in the background. Coincidence?
Doing One-Arm Pushups on the Brooklyn Bridge...
And it wouldn't be Vegas without a cold drink in your hand (well almost in my hand).
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Had a good session today four sets of 50 calf raises, 16 plyometric full pushups, 13 regular close pushups, two sets of 10 one arm pushups from 35", then a set of six half-lever pushups. Eight flat leg raises, then two sets of 10 hanging flat leg raises. Definitely stronger than before, when I started I could barely do one crappy one arm pushup from 35". Now I've got two sets of 10 with perfect form.
I'm taking a break to rest and relax, chill with some of my best friends and family, drink some cocktails, then get married and go on a mini-moon. See you guys in about a week and a half or so. Maybe a picture here or there ... ;)
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Volume seems to be working. I worked three-quarter HSPU for awhile before coming back to half HSPU. Now the progression standard is in sight and I am striving to pass it (two sets of 20). I did sets of half HSPU: 16/13/13 plus some frog stands and 3 full HSPU (video).
I warmed up for bridge work with sets of full bridges: 7/7, and then walk-down bridges: 8/8. Those things wear you out. I'm back on Captains of Crush and kicking ass. Working T,#1,#1.5, and #2. I'm holding the #1.5 for 15 seconds easily with each hand. Also went for a jog with my soon-to-be-bride in Golden Gate Park.
Overall a good workout for a Saturday afternoon.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
So earlier I mentioned some things I read over at Adam T. Glass's blog "Walk The Road Less Traveled". It had to do with the old saying that you should always work high reps low resistance for endurance, and low reps with high resistance for strength. The idea is that only doing regular pushups will only make you string to a certain point and that's it for that level of resistance no matter how many you do. Adam calls this highly touted saying into question a bit, based on his real experinece.
I put this to test a little bit recently and what I now believe is that there is a hidden dimension. In other words, of course Adam is right, and what I now think I see is that the saying is true....but it is only half of the wisdom. What I now believe from my own experimentation is the following (and please, test this out for yourself when you reach a wall and cannot seem to move past it):
Yes, doing lots of repetitions on a low resistance movement is not going to raise your strength levels very high. If you never move past wall pushups, it's unlikely you'll ever be able to drop and do a bunch of one-arm pushups. And if you only do about two or three sets of very high resistance exercises getting heavier each time, then it's unlikely you'll be well prepared for long term, low resistance endurance work. However....who ever said it had to be all one or all the other?
My theory goes like this, and it's only a theory even though I have both personal experience and solid examples of what people are already doing to get better (unknowingly perhaps): Higher reps of lower relative resistance work where there is a larger "pump" of the muscles, opens the door so to speak for the higher resistance work. It greases the groove to use Pavel's terminology. Greasing the Groove as I understood it for some time however, involved simply FREQUENT execution of a particular exercise. My assumption form reading The Naked Warrior was that those 'frequent' grease-the-groove exercises were to be high resistance, low rep in general. What I am suggesting as an alternative is that if you want to get stronger, then your WARMUPS should be significant (and appropriate). How much is significant? It's likely a little different for everyone, however for me it means that my warmups should give me solid feeling of being "pumped up", but I am still leaving some strength in the bank as Wade says. Remember that in CC we're not going for "getting big", however you need to fill the area you're working with nurturing blood and fluids. Then, when you do your higher resistance work you're body will be ready for it. The challenge work may even surprise you. Open the door so you can walk through it. Mayybe I'll call this concept "Opening the Door".
Go ahead and test all this out, don't just take my word for it. Let me know what you find.
Today I did 13 full explosive pushups, 13 close pushups, then two sets of 20 of the One-Arm pushups from 39" with perfect form, then two sets of 5 of one-arms from the 33" bar (challenge work, same perfect form). Passed a progression standard I had no hope of doing six months ago. I did 8 horizontal LL, then 2 sets of Step 10 (Full straight leg lifts, nice and slow with a 2 second hold at the top), then one set of :30 second standing single leg holds. Finished with four sets of 50 calf raises (alternating between step 1 (bent) and step 2 (straight)). Oh yeah, I mixed them all together so my workout only took about 45 minutes. Good times.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Monday, April 9, 2012
I hate being on video, but I owe you guys a brief review. As I mentioned earlier, Paul Wade kindly sent me these DVD sets and I was really excited to get them.
Each DVD is much more than simply a disk in a pouch. What you get is a large box set containing the disk as well as a handbook. The handbook essentially reiterates what the DVD has on it. Obviously with a book you are not getting motion pictures, and if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth ten thousand words.
I'm sure many people are asking why they would spend $60 or whatever on a DVD about a single exercise. First of all, nobody has a gun to your head. And as I mention in the video, the original book has just about everything you need to know in it. Many people read books, but some prefer to just watch the movie. It's always been that way and probably always will be, so it's actually an intelligent business move by Dragon Door if you ask me.
Another criticism is that Paul Wade doesn't appear in the videos (at least not yet). It's a fair criticism, but at this point we should consider the possibility that Coach Wade is either an amalgam of different people, or that his name is something other than "Paul Wade". Either way, the information is legit. I've had a bunch of different email communications with Paul Wade and I know this: it's a person not a machine writing me back in extreme detail. And the dude has taken a considerable amount of time to respond to my questions. He's knowledgeable, that's for sure. And by the way, there are a good number of other bodyweight training books out there so all you need to do is do the research and find out for yourself what works and what doesn't. Convict Conditioning works. Bodyweight exercises work, and they're also very safe. The biggest selling point of CC in my mind is 1) The progressive nature of the program, and 2) The simple nature of the ten steps. Of course I'm in love with the Zen-like element of bodyweight training, the austerity, and the solitude etc..
Back to the DVDs...Max and Brett are shown performing each step of the exercise, and the progression standards are reiterated as well. There is some discussion about theory of the exercise in the videos, but the original book has the most complete information.
What I loved most were the "Variants" as well as the "Hidden Steps". Someone doing CC for a year will have likely figured out some of these, but they were great to see nonetheless. In particular I really liked the sections on plyometric work. The author recommends incorporating this type of exercise for speed and power, so I will be following suit quite soon.
Again, there are people who read the book, and those who go watch the movie. In the end if this gets more people working out and doing bodyweight exercise who cares. If you have the money to spend and you're too lazy to read through several hundred pages of print a couple times, then spend your money wisely on the DVD sets. How much are gym memberships anyway?
I'm hoping I get a chance to review the remainder of the volumes. As The Coach says, milk every step of every exercise for what you can get possibly out of it. The DVDs are another way to do this.
To be a responsible Convict Conditioning athlete, I have to keep an open mind and look far and wide for anything that can help me with my goal to perform the Master Steps one day (one arm pushup, one arm pullup, one arm HSPU, stand-to-stand bridge,etc). I'm a follower of Adam Glass' blog, called "Walk The Road Less Traveled". Anyone who has done what Adam has, and has done it for as long as he has, can certainly be called an 'expert' in their field. What I found interesting is that (if I understand his latest post correctly), he calls into question the notion that it is always the case that to build endurance you do lower resistance higher reps, and to build strength you do higher resistance lower reps. On the one hand this goes against 'common knowledge' as found in CC, Pavel's 'Naked Warrior', etc. But Adam has real physical evidence to prove that this is not always the truth. Again, we're saying that it is not ALWAYS true. And again, what in the entire world is ALWAYS true? Nothing really. Even the sun will not rise one day because it'll burn out in a couple billion years. Point is, even I have found in my monumentally small experience in strength training that which corroborates Adam's post.
So it seems to me that IN GENERAL, the foundation laid out in CC is valid. What remains is that as you get to higher step levels, you must be willing to break down any mental walls you have and basically try out whatever can help you. Let's face it, if doing higher volume allows you to get strong enough to do a higher level CC step, then the proof is right there. Follow the program, but don't be a robot either. Have fun with it, and most importantly learn and grow from it and from everything else you learn.
Today I warmed up with 8 pike pushups (V-pushups), then did three sets of half HSPU: 14/14/13. Then I managed to actually do 2 full HSPU from head on the ground at rest headstand position. I finished with 10 more pike pushups. I did two sets of 6 full bridges (these things are getting better). I thought it was impossible for me to be able to straighten my legs and arms but I am getting close. You MUST get the hips higher on these little by little. I did sets of walkdown bridges: 8/6. Part of these involves having only one hand on the ground for a moment while in bridge position- it's tough. I concluded with grip work- I'm cranking on the Captains of Crush again. My golfer's elbow is almost gone and I'm pretty excited. I'l be hitting the CoC hard again here in a while, then eventually back to the hanging work. Gonna keep the CoC in the mix though.
Did my review of the Convict Conditioning DVD set (Vol.1 and Vol.2), but I still need to upload the video.
Saturday, April 7, 2012
Title has nothing to do with the video. Today I got in a workout but fell short on my uneven squats. Whereas I had been doing two sets of 6, I did two sets of four today. Plus, archer pullups feel like they're going nowhere sometimes. To look on the bright side, I did some light neck work and that felt decent.
In other news, I finished watching the Convict Conditioning DVDs that Coach Wade sent me (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2). I will definitely be doing a full review here soon, most likely a video.
I've been talking about and thinking about rest. It will be time soon. Also, I'm trying to up my diet a bit. Get more calories and get more protein, etc.
Anyway, enjoy the video. Do the one arm pushup position holds with perfect form. I'd like to see some others do this. I'm curious.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
I'll be watching these over the weekend and reading over the material as well, so I have enough to give an honest and in-depth review....
So I had a fairly massive breakfast and it paid off. I felt really strong on my pushup work, calf work, and LL.
Now here is something that hit me like a brick wall right as I was working leg lifts. It's a mental imagery thing, a shift in how you think about what you're doing. Perhaps I'm the last person on the planet who doesn't do this or know it, but it changed my leg lift performance dramatically. First off, keep to Wade's 1-2-1 count on these. Secondly, do not raise above 90 degrees until you are stronger and have moved past appropriate steps. Third, breathe IN on the raise, and OUT on the lowering. Lastly, and this is my revelation, as you lift the legs up DO NOT think about lifting the legs up even though that is what is obviously happening to an outside observer. Rather, imagine that you are LOWERING your chest, abdomen, and hips DOWN, which then PUSHES your legs up. Of course maintain packed shoulders, etc. Don't put the mental image in your head of lifting the legs. Got it?
Give this a try and let me know if it works as well for you as it does for me.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
So I'm reading a blog about training and they mention that if you are doing heavy resistance work you should be ingesting 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. I weigh about 170lbs. so that means I should be eating 255 grams of protein every day. Wow, not even close. It would be such a pain in the ass to do that I think. Though I must admit I have been craving dairy products very intensely lately. I've just started drinking milk. I NEVER drank milk by itself except as a kid from time to time and even then I didn't care for it. I'm going to look into this more. Perhaps I should bring in some cottage cheese to work, a jug of milk, etc. I'm not looking to get "big", but I also don't want to deny my body anything it naturally needs from doing these calisthenics either.
Today I gassed out on walkdown bridges, but last night I got my ass kicked in jiujitsu. We're doing a lot of wrestling now and it's seemed to have become more intense. I didn;t want to fall on my head so I did sets: 8/4. I worked half-HSPU: 17/15. Will go for the progression standard soon so I can get these off my plate- I've already bounced back to them.
Monday, April 2, 2012
You know that almost noticeable shakiness you feel once in awhile when you're really tired and just don't feel like training, but you know you want to get a session in so you do it anyway? I'm starting to really see the importance of rest. Mind you, it's not like I'm not getting enough sleep or not eating enough...and yet I think I need to increase those levels just a tiny bit...especially the breakfast thing. Going forward I'll try to make my breakfasts more substantial, and also make sure I get a solid mid-morning snack.
I warmed up up with full and close pullups: 8/8, then hit archers: 3/3/4 with Full/Half/Half mode. Finished with some one-arm negatives, though it doesn't feel like I'm stronger on these much at all. Finally, I did a set of horizontal pulls. I'm starting to get fixated on these because I never passed step 2 as it seemed like a waste of time after several months on it hitting a wall. I may look at raising the bar and doing them progressively lower. Granted, it is more an endurance thing, but I'm curious.....
Did some neck work against the wall, and did uneven squats: 7/6. Weird thing is I needed assist on my left side this time for about half the second set. Gotta think about these for a bit.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Today cleared up and it was sunny and beautiful in San Francisco. My fiancee (I only have to use that word another couple of weeks), bought a new scooter last night and I drove it home for her in the rain. It's an Aprilia SportCity 250. It's a mini-beast, the thing is zippy and fun. Much respect to her for getting right back to riding after someone in an SUV crashed into her several months ago and broke a bone in her foot.
We went for a ride together (each on our own bikes) for the first time since about October of last year. What a treat, because we discovered two new amazing parks with fantastic views that we never even knew about. Little gems that are hard to find and off the beaten path. And oh yeah, one of these babies had an old school metal jungle gym! You just know I had to test these bars out right? Most any other playground around today has been eviscerated and replaced by pillow lined bumpers twelve inches off the ground, masquerading as fitness structures for children. God forbid someone gets a skinned knee or a bruised ego. Anyway, the elbow is still sore but I keep at the Convict Conditioning slowly. I tried for a muscle-up and almost had it. I was wearing motorcycle boots so I'm going to use that as an excuse as to why I couldn't get all the way up this time. I definitely got a lot farther than I did last time I tried down in Venice. I was able to get an arm up over the bar at least.
Today I did PSP/LL and calf work. I'm noticing two things this week: actual presentation of that other side of the calf muscle I never knew existed on my body, and also an entirely different set of muscles which constitute the "triceps" having each their own identity. Again, never knew they existed.
Like I said, discovering new things.