Jasper Roberts - Blog

Thursday, February 28, 2013

2013-02-28 Dealing with Fatigue

Being tired is an interesting thing. There are obviously different levels of fatigue, and different types as well. There's a temporary fatigue you get from exerting effort in an exercise for example. It's comes on fairly quickly and goes away just as fast. Then there is the fatigue that seems more mental which you feel after a long day of meetings and speaking to angry customers, etc. That doesn't arise from physical exertion, and yet it can be quite powerful. Then there's just the plain old tiredness you feel from lack of sleep. That kind sits with you pretty much the whole day and can be a show stopper when it comes to working out. Other types of fatigue can be diet related or can result from lack of sufficient caloric intake. Still other types are the result of nutrient deficiencies, chemical imbalances and more serious health problems.

I've found that aside from the less likely reasons listed last, the source of fatigue which gives me the most trouble when I want to workout is simple lack of sleep. Interestingly enough, even an extra hour or two shaved off my normal sleep session is very noticeable. Once in a while I will lie on the floor of my office during my lunch break and take a quick nap, but that's quite rare. Most of the time I can push myself through a workout, and as long as I get enough sleep the following night, I'm back on track.

Modern health science tells us that lack of sleep is not just an inconvenience, it's a serious health risk. As this issue raises it's head in the future I will likely be finding ways to train very differently.

In the meantime, today was productive. I'm almost at my goal of two sets of five pullups with 50lb weight. Also, I'm working the parallet pike pushups with stunning results for my HSPU work (Thanks Aleks). In addition, my new approach of four sets per exercise with the low intensity - high volume work at the end is good stuff. Must say though, weighted pistols are exhausting!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

2013-02-27 First, Build a Strong Foundation

It's easy to get frustrated and impatient. You get on Youtube and see guys doing one-arm pullups and one-arm handstand holds, and closing bridges, and tiger bend pushups and planches....and think you're doing something wrong. I question it, but then take comfort in my complete lack of training injuries in the past year or so. Really, what is the rush? If you're training for a one arm pullup does it really matter if it takes you three years instead of one year with extreme danger of injury? Not at my age it doesn't.

I recently saw a video from a young man who had recently began training for the one-arm pullup, and had made a goal for himself to do it in ten weeks. But here's the silly part- when he BEGAN training for the one-arm pullup he was already capable of doing pullups with almost 90% of his bodyweight added. Not quite the same starting point as your average Joe like me. In my experience, it could take a couple years to even get to his starting point.

The important thing (I'd like to think) is that we are building a strong foundation nice and slowly without haste. I want something that lasts.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Double-Post Day !

Today's your lucky day (or maybe it's mine, I don't know). Thought I would give you a taste of what the current version of my training log looks like. It does appear like the scribblings of a madman, I admit. Now imagine a couple hundred pages of this nonsense and you might think about calling domestic services. I made probably my twentieth change to the spreadsheet seen above. I quit updating the posted spreadsheet available on the sidebar (for download) a long time ago, but I leave it up because I think the old version still has value for many people.

My approach as of today is this:

Set 1: Very light warmups and joint mobility work.
Set 2: Heavy and intense main work. Several sets of fairly low reps.
Set 3: Moderate but still respectably intense work. Several sets of medium rep work.
Set 4: Low level intensity, higher rep more geared toward endurance in that exercise.

2013-02-25 Peculiarities

Once in awhile something unexpected occurs when you weren't expecting it. When it's a negative thing like your car breaking down, we usually get pissed off. Ironically, when it's a positive thing our happiness is generally not as proportional in glee as our unhappiness is to the negative event. This has to do with an evolutionary psychological heuristic called "risk aversion". But that's another story.
Today I was working three-quarter HSPUs (among other things), and I was only planning on doing three reps for my second set. However, in the heat of the moment during rep number three, I pulled my feet away from the wall and said "screw it, let's try" and promptly did another rep which was a totally free-standing three-quarter handstand pushup. Now of course, psychologically it may have not counted but physically it was a damn free-standing HSPU which I feel pretty good about and was my very first one. By this I mean starting from handstand position, going down, then rising back up again without any assistance form the wall.
It was peculiar. It also made me want to work on that some more...so I will.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

2013-02-23 Where is Everyone ?

Last week I was in New York, and since I was sort of in the neighborhood I couldn't resist the opportunity to go check out Tompkins Square Park! The place to be for the calisthenics revolution- guys like Al Kavadlo... and aren't the Barbarians and Bar-Stars here too? Well, unfortunately I didn't see anyone there doing one arm pullups and clapping pushups. A few dudes playing basketball nearby and one guy doing some inclined pushups. I played around on the bars a bit, but it was cold outside. I guess I was expecting a big group of people to be hanging out and working out. Oh well,  maybe next time. It was definitely cool to see outdoor bars, real old-school bars.  I'd like to see bars put up at parks everywhere around the country, and bars for adults too. A guy can dream.

Friday, February 22, 2013

2013-02-22 New Plan, New Info

As soon as I get my camera back I'll post some cool new photos from a secret, CC relevant trip I made last week. But until then let me say that I learned some good new information which I am applying. This info comes from my brother-in-law Toby who is a personal trainer in NY. He keyed me into a few concepts I've thought about previously but am more seriously working on applying now.

1. It's important to work FULL RANGE of motion on each exercise as much as possible. This means that if you cannot do the exercise in a full ROM, then you need to find a way to make it easier so that you can. Not ALL work for this exercise has to be full range of motion (FROM) but some should. This jives with what Aleks said, the guy who told me to start using my parallets for Pike Pushups work (you get much larger range of motion and launches your HSPU numbers into the sky).

2. It's important to work some exercises more vigorously in a LIMITED ROM, meaning if you have a harder time on the pullup when your chin is near the bar than you do when you are at the bottom, then perhaps you should try putting in additional work just doing half-pullups near the top of the bar to help your overall pullup round-out.

3. It's important to get some high-rep work in, because endurance and strength go hand in hand even though they are separate. They have an odd relationship with one another, but it's good to round out the strength with endurance and endurance with strength. For me this means that I am now doing a very easy and light warmup, then getting to the hard work right away, and then finishing with some lower intensity higher-rep work.

Today is the first day....of the rest of your life.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

2013-02-14 Past a Plateau in a Major Way

I've noticed that in the past couple weeks I've been making big gains. Stronger, physical changes to my body, etc. And not the typical things a 43 year old gets like a fat belly, bad back, and sore knees. My bridges are getting higher and easier, hanging leg raise reps getting higher, and I'm doing sets of weighted pistols. My anterior chain is expanding- leading to my "abs" reaching up and onto my sternum and crowding out over my ribs. The muscle and tendons below the front of my hips are like cables, so lifting the leg into the air and holding it is very easy. The connective tissue surrounding my knees are webbing over in a protective sheath, and the lower tendons feel larger and deeper seated. The next plateau will probably be a very long one, but that's not happening for awhile!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

2013-02-13 Intelligent Design

I believe in Intelligent Design. Without it, you're just fumbling for what to do during your workout, with no clue of where you were a year ago or where you're headed. Oh, you thought I was talking about God? Heh. I was just talking about Convict Conditioning and bodyweight strength training.

Three hours a week. That's all the time I ever spend on strength training (with an additional six hours practicing or teaching martial arts, but that's aerobic at best). In three lunch hours per week at work, which would normally be spent surfing the web, I have built up a respectable degree of strength (comparatively to myself). As I've always said too though, it's the consistency that matters most. That said, consistency without a plan can only get you so far. You might get far enough for your own goals, but a well laid out plan (an intelligent design) makes things much easier, more efficient, and in my opinion, more interesting.

So get a notebook and a pen and be an intelligent designer.

Monday, February 11, 2013

2013-02-11 Determined Mindset

Sometimes in gyms (mainly the gritty ones where people are doing real work like squats), you'll hear groans and yells- indicating that either someone is dying or they're just working hard. It's not always necessary to groan and yell, but it is necessary to establish a determined mindset. In the early stages of bodyweight training, even though the work might be hard, it's not THAT hard. You're not close to your genetic potential. By the time you're pushing the upper levels of CC stages, you are getting into some hard core strength training and if you doubt yourself, you're finished. The body follows the mind, and vice versa. Body and mind need to be in line with one another.
Every time I look up at that pullup bar with weight strapped to my waist, I tell myself that I am absolutely doing my determined number of reps no matter what. If I notice any doubt, I scrub it clean and breathe.
You need every edge you can get, and doubting yourself is a disaster.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

2013-02-06 The PCC Challenge, Plus "Deep Thoughts"

So after finding out about this new thing called the "Progressive Calisthenics Certification", I had to see if I could do the exercises. This doesn't mean anything to anyone except me, I just wanted to see if I could do it.

Basically, back to back you must use good form and do:

40 Squats
30 Pushups
20 Hanging Knee Raises
10 Pullups

I have to say that it wasn't quite as bad as I thought and I could have done some more. It was a nice little mix of strength and endurance. Thing is, I know for sure that I could not have done this in the same way before I started dedicated bodyweight training. Give it a try and post your videos to my blog's facebook page IF YOU DARE!

I may be looking to develop a more difficult version of this in the future- perhaps pistol squats, lever pushups, hanging leg raises, and uneven pullups...or something like that.

In other news......On my drive home from work yesterday I thought about working in general and about different types of work. I asked myself a very simple question:

Am I making the world a better place to live?

Immediately after, several other related questions came to mind:

What about other people- are they all making the world a better place to live? And if not, why not and what are they doing to make it worse?

I have a hard time believing that anyone but an extremely small percentage of sociopaths, criminals, and blatantly selfish nuts would admit to or be proud of the fact that they are NOT making the world a better place to live.

Now, admittedly this question can be broken down and analyzed and turned into something much more complicated. Am I making the world a better place for whom? It can be argued that we all do some good and some bad, and that we have to look at our actions as a whole and on the average. Then this got me thinking more- why can't we just ask a simple question and get a simple answer? Do all of our lives have to be broken down into some complex miasma of varying degrees of how much we destroy the world and how much we add value to it? Is a lion living out in a remote area of Africa making the world a better place? Seems like a nonsensical question doesn't it? The gazelles don't much like lions being around, though one could argue that the lion killing off the weakest ones actually makes the species more hardy overall.

What is it that we humans do that is NOT making the world a better place? What is it in YOUR OWN life that does not serve this purpose? Interesting questions.

Monday, February 4, 2013

2013-02-04 Allow Yourself

Guess what? I didn't get enough sleep and I'm tired today- feeling weak. Why workout? I'm not going to feel guilty in the least. It's incredibly rare when I ditch my lunchtime routine anyway, so it's a 5 minute power-nap and some errands. I'll get some sleep tonight and hit it on Wednesday.

PS. I just purchased Al Kavadlo's new book "Pushing The Limits" and it has some good tips...

Friday, February 1, 2013

2013-02-01 Just Playin'

Today's not a CC training day for me, but for kicks I dropped by the gym to do a set of dead-hang chinups and see what my limit was before I changed tempo.


(and strength left in the bank too).