Jasper Roberts - Blog

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

2012-05-30 Recalibration

I'm thinking of going back to the drawing board sort of. The stuff I learned about the Lafay method and higher volume gave me a new outlook on progress in Convict Conditioning. I may have gone a little too far down a path I don't want to go down however. I believe in low rep, high stress. I believe in very short rest time between sets. What I'm starting to feel however, is that my warmups are too severe and they're robbing me of energy to perform the higher stress work. I think that saving endurance work (high reps lower stress) for after the work sets is the way to go (if at all).
Today I did full pullups: 7/6/5/5 with a 30 second rests. When I went to do archer pullups I was spent and could only do one or two. I substituted long, slow pullups instead just messing around. Later I did a bunch of horizontal pulls (actually 45 degree pulls). My arms felt super pumped up, but not like I was gaining the kind of strength I'm aiming for. Squats today were horrible, I crashed around noon and had no energy so was only able to do one set of 7 assisted one-leg squats after a warmup of two sets of 12.
Then I read a blog post form a martial arts guy I follow and the article jump started my brain. It reminded me about static holds which I've been studying more again lately. This article had some legit references about how to develop tendon and ligament which is what CC is more about IMO. So yeah, isometrics are the other secret key. But you have to do the isometrics at several different ranges- for example, a one arm pushup hold at the bottom, mid-level, and at the top. Apply this to all other "big six" and we have a new tool folks. In fact....wow, ok now I have a lot of ideas.

Monday, May 28, 2012

2012-05-28 The Squatted Leg Extension

I've mentioned this exercise many times and here it is finally in video. I wasn't even doing squat work today, but I was playing around with a 12kg kettlebell (my 16kg bell is at work). Squats are one thing, doing static holds on one leg while you extend your other leg are another thing. By this I mean that if you think doing a body-weight squat is easy, then do one with your back straight. If that's easy, do one with your back straight and arms out to the side, slowly. If that's easy do one with your back straight, arms fully extended straight above your head. Still easy? Do that with one leg twenty times...with two kettlebells (back straight arms directly overhead or out to the side). Oh, and each squat you should touch your ass to your ankle and not bounce. See how this works?

Behold me doing a few of what I call the Squatted Leg Extension. Basically from a full squat, you extend one leg, then bring it back and extend the other leg, hold, and return. Repeat. Do these without any extra weight at first. I have found them to be an excellent intermediate exercise for helping to master the pistol squat. They activate a lot of the non-prime movers which keep you balanced and in position.

I've been away from training for too long (about 10 days)- felt good to get back into it. Had a surprise success too, single leg pressed up from a squat while holding a 12kg. kettlebell. Wasn't even working on it.

Today I worked pushups, leg lifts, and calf raises. Nothing spectacular just trying to get back into my CC groove. I did a bunch of half lever pushups, those seemed easier somehow. So did leg lifts. Maybe this unintended rest time is paying off.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

2012-05-27 Half Moon Bay Fun

Went kayaking today, then had burgers and beer, and seafood....will get back on track soon. ;)

In the meantime, found some fun places by the ocean.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

2012-05-26 My Simple Weight Loss Program

I was traveling for work last week and have been missing some workouts on the weekends due to my house hunting trips. I weighed myself and then promptly said aloud "What the Fuck!". Normally I've been weighing in (no clothes) at between 168 and 173 depending on whether I just finished dinner or just woke up, etc. When I got home from my business trip where all I did is stand around, sit on airplanes for hours at a time, eat heavy unhealthy food, drink, and relax...my scale read 156. I was pissed off to say the least. I've been working hard over the past year to get stronger, and that has at least some relative correlation to muscle mass and in turn overall weight- especially for me. Today I weighed in at 163- another disappointment. It's pretty hard to work at something diligently for a year, and the suddenly feel like you've lost everything in just one week. I'm exaggerating a bit, but still.

If I could bottle whatever it is that keeps me thin I could sell it to American and be richer than Mark Zuckerberg that is for sure. Honestly I think if people who are overweight just....simply....slowed....down.....and took time to eat it would give the stomach a little more time to say "Oh, yeah wait a minute I guess I am full"."

Anyway, the house hunting has turned into house waiting...I may have a place soon and I'm very excited to spread out, start growing some of my own food, and build a gym in my garage.

I've also been reading about dead lifts, and I've been playing with kettlebells. In some ways I feel like I've made lots of progress in pure bodyweight exercises but I'm wondering if I am now at a point where I'm putting unnecessary restrictions on myself. I'll never give up body weight Convict Conditioning style training, but I may be adding in some things in the future. I'm curious what other people out there think. One reason I like CC is that I don;t need to worry about having access to certain equipment that isn't easily transportable (barbells, plates, etc). And I want to be able to workout at home and at my office without restrictions. Something to think about.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

2012-05-22 Traveling and Stuff...

I'm traveling for work and was out house hunting this past weekend. Today I finally found time to get a CC workout in and I did a hybrid workout, where I did all big-six exercises plus my normal neck, grip, and calf work. Also did some plyometric exercises. I took a bunch of videos but can;t download until I get home. I'll do a write up and recommendation for hotel rooms. Gotta get creative!

By the way, check this post out from Adam Glass:

This is very interesting and suggests that mixing in lower load work to increase range of motion can help up your count on max reps wit the higher load work. Confirms what I have suspected doing CC for the past year. Very good stuff.

Friday, May 18, 2012

2012-05-18 My 200th CC Workout

It snuck up on me the 200th workout. Interesting thing happened today while doing 3/4 HSPU work- I felt a strength come from somewhere else that helped me through my set. No, I'm not talking about God or my guardian angel, some mystical spirit, or something equally ridiculous. It felt very psychological if that makes any sense, but almost as if some deep recess of my brain said "ok, I know how to do this now, here goes".  It definitely was not something I've experienced before that I know of. Maybe it was a tiny sliver of a glimpse of that so called "super strength" that old ladies get when they have to lift a car off their trapped grandson.

Today was HSPU work and bridges, plus grip training with CoC. I closed a #2 again. Made that puppy grind.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

2012-05-16 Consistency is KING

Let me ask you a question. Do you really think that smoking one cigarette in your entire lifetime will give you lung cancer? Ok, now what about this: How about smoking two packs a day, every day for forty years? You see how consistency works? In this example it works against you. So let's turn the tables. Let's say that you wake up one morning and realize you are terribly overweight and out of shape. Was it that one piece of pie or that one day of sitting on the couch for three hours? No, of course not. It is a result of what happens consistently, plus an unlucky genetic hand you may have been dealt. Be happy you woke up at all, and get ready for an exciting life of joy and pain and everything in between.

Now the beauty of consistent practice of good things (exercise, eating well, reading books etc.) is that by it's very nature it is based on the overall dominant behavior in a given time. This means that once in a while it is ok to overeat, to sit on the couch instead of exercising, etc. The key here is that the dominant behavior must be consistently healthy. Eating crap or skipping a workout must be the exception, not the rule. Still, it is allowable and should be fully enjoyed, in my opinion.

Today I felt strong and I had an extra day of rest- that paid off I think. I did full pullups: 7/6/5/4, then archers: 3/2/2, then 45deg pulls: 18/15/13, then one arm 45deg pulls: 8/8. For squats I did full squats: 11/11, then uneven squats: 5/3/3/3, then half one leg squats: 7/5. Finished with front, back, and side neck presses against the wall (20 reps each).

I am doing 30 second rest between sets, 2 minute rest between steps, and 4 minute rest between exercises. High volume in short time...working well so far.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

2012-05-11 Bleh

Did HSPU work and BRG. Nothing spectacular. making some gains I suppose, still tired this week. Need to step it up for a bit and see what happens.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

2012-05-10 Meditate

Have a couple drinks and sit back and enjoy this film. Maybe one day I'll meet this dude who is working out in San Francisco. I love the music and the Bruce Lee quotes. Good stuff.
Today I worked squats and then pullups and also neck. Not feeling spectacularly strong, but I may be adjusting to the higher number of sets with sorter rest times. Gonna build up and see what I can do.
Lately I've been feeling tired and weak. It's also spring and my eyes itch, my wife is coughing and I'm thinking that there is pollen in the air. I've also been feeling like I'm on a plateau and maybe this is as strong as I get, which isn't very strong. That's my negative side speaking, but then again plateaus are real. I know. I've been on them in Aikido, in Karate, in Jiujitsu, studying engineering, etc. Many times. It's simply the way life is. So while we may push for constant progress and we do, we also must meditate on plateaus which are a natural time to reflect and keep on keeping on.
This new modified Convict Conditioning regiment I'm on is interesting. I definitely feel pumped up like I'm getting bigger. And although this is not the goal (strength is), it may be the inevitable place I must go. I've been wondering if the year I spent doing regular ol' CC religiously has already developed the majority of the base fascia and now it's time to gain more in the muscle department. We'll see, as it's all an experiment.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

2012-05-08 A Missing Piece in The Armor

Years ago I separated my left shoulder. Years before that I separated my right shoulder. In neither case was it "bad" enough for surgery. The only downside is that now I can't throw a baseball like I used to when I was 19. But who cares, because I never throw baseballs. Point is, I do have occasional discomfort in my right shoulder from time to time, though I usually attribute that to too much mouse and computer work. Still, if it's strong enough the mousing shouldn't bother it. Then I realized that the big six in Convict Conditioning really don't address the muscles and tendons which support a particular movement. That movement is standing with your arms at your sides and simply lifting them straight up into the air while keeping them at your sides. This is the movement which is most compromised by a shoulder separation. Lifting your arms up, yeah sort of a big deal.

Then it hit me- which of the bix six exercises from Convict Conditioning addresses this movement? Pushups? no. Leg Lifts? no. Pullups? no. Squats? no. Handstands? no. Bridges? not really. Don't get me wrong, I'm not condemning CC. It's awesome or I would have quit a long time ago. Rather, I think at least for me and to strengthen the body in a way appropriate for those who have suffered shoulder separations, one additional exercise is needed. And low and behold, what exercise has been on my mind for a while now because it is part of the International Tactical Strength Challenge? The Kettlebell Snatch. Yep.....gonna be adding that to my routine. Even though it's not a pure bodyweight exercise, I need something to keep my shoulder together.

Monday, May 7, 2012

2012-05-07 Know Thyself

One thing that dedicated and consistent training in a physical practice should teach you is knowledge and sensitivity to your body, almost by definition. Unless you're not paying attention at all. Convict Conditioning is no exception.

I feel really tired today. Is it over training? Did I eat enough this morning? Did I get enough sleep last night? Is there something occupying my thoughts lately? Am I fighting off an illness of some sort? Am I just being lazy?
The better you know yourself the better you are able to ascertain what the likely reason is for feeling weak or tired. For myself today, I think I'm fighting off a bug (since My wife has a cold) in combination with a more rigorous training routine.

To take this concept to an extreme, I will venture to say that an extremely small number of us know ourselves completely under every condition. Most of us know ourselves only under a handful of common conditions- mild stress at work, mild hunger after missing lunch, mild physical exhaustion after that extra minute on the treadmill, and perhaps the rare blow-up at someone cutting you off in traffic. How many of us know ourselves under more extreme conditions? Watching a family member die in front of you, losing a limb, being badly burned? Having someone chase you with a knife? A gun?  Also, what about knowing ourselves under more positive conditions? Winning a million dollars, earning a Ph.D,  winning a Nobel Prize, being selected to represent your country in your favorite sport in the Olympics?

Will it go to our head so to speak? Will it cause depression or escape?

It's a small thing, but consistent practice of something-anything difficult and good for you will bring a little more knowledge of yourself.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

2012-05-06 Tired and Sore Body

As you may have read earlier, I stumbled onto some interesting information which offers a way to make Convict Conditioning work even better. This modification, in a nutshell, is increasing (doubling) both the number of work sets and the number of warmup sets I do, and dropping the number of repetitions per set down a bit from what I've been doing- all while keeping the rest time in between sets very short (about 30 seconds). The short rest time is KEY. This drastically changes the game for body-weight training. It's not really in conflict with anything that Coach Wade has said, it just takes it to a slightly different place. Apparently there is an approach to strength training which includes this idea among some other types of things, which is extremely popular in France - called the "Lafay Method". Again, what I am doing is not "Lafay" necessarily, but rather, I borrowed some of his ideas because the results are so impressive. And also to bring back what was said earlier, strength training experts like Mark Reifkind and Pavel and others always talk about volume (workload done in certain amount of time), so this is not technically a new concept- I think I've just rearranged the dishes on the table so to speak. Time will tell, but I absolutely feel the difference in my body since I've begun implementing this new approach, plus my training time overall has gone down. There may be people out there who have seven hours a day to do pushups (you know who you are). But for the rest of us, it's just not possible. And frankly, I'm not interested.

Today I worked pullups, neck, and squats. I'm mildly sore and exhausted. Going to take a nap.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

2012-05-03 It's Been a Year Now

Baby gorilla A and baby gorilla B. Both basically the same size and shape. I took a picture of myself four months ago and I took one today and guess what? I look almost exactly the same.Thing is, I definitely feel stronger. Looking back over my training log from four months ago I have certainly improved. I have to attribute this mainly to development of smaller bodily structures and connective tissue development, as well as simply the skills learned.

Consistency is king. Keep moving.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

2012-05-02 Tense Your Glutes

What's all this talk about tensing your butt muscles? Well, it's really about engaging the rest of your body when expending maximum effort in one area. Pavel talks about this in "The Naked Warrior". I'm still getting my new CC routine tweaked in, utilizing more of a "Lafay" method in the sense that I have transitioned to doing many more sets with fewer reps in order to increase my bodyweight training volume over time.

Today I worked Handstands:

Warmup- Pike Pushups 10/10
Work Sets- Half HSPU 8/8/8, Three Quarter HSPU 2/2/1/1, Full HSPU 1/1
*remember there is only a :30 break between sets, a 2 minute break between steps, and a 4 minute break between different body area exercises

Warmup- Full Bridges 5/5/5
Work Sets- Walkdown and up 2/2/1/1/1

I also worked CoC progressions with holds for time.

So far I like it. I will slowly add reps each week and see how it goes.