Jasper Roberts - Blog

Thursday, March 28, 2013

2013-03-28 Just The Facts, Plus Extreme Arm Mobility

Today I don't have any words of wisdom, so I thought I'd just post what I did today (in order). Some of this new stuff you'll have to search for on Google. It's not all standard CC work.

-Ido Portal's Shoulder ROM - 2 sets
-Full Pullups - 6
-Ido Portal's Squat Clinic - 1 set
-Parallet Pikes - 6/6
-Weighted Chinups (60lbs) - 3/3
-Weighted Pistol Squats (20lbs) - 5/5
-Full HSPU - 1/1
-Weighted Chinups (30lbs) - 6/6
-Weighted Cossack Squats (20lbs) - 9 (Each Side)
-Neck Wall Presses - 20 (Front,Rear,Left,Right)
-Half HSPU - 12
-Ido Portal's Airbabies - 3 (Each Side)
-Ido Portal's 90 degree Pullup Holds - 0:12/0:12
-HS Holds (Mostly Freestanding) - 0:12/0:12

Doesn't sound like much but I can assure you it is dense. Shoulders feeling super strong and mobile.

Let me ask you if you can place the palm of your hand on the small of your back....yeah, not that way. Turn your hand up, rotating it so that now the BACK of your hand is resting on the small of your back...ok, now keep going and continue rotating it until the palm of your hand is once again flat against the small of your back with thumb pointing down...similar in final position to what you did initially but rotated one revolution on approach. I found out I can do this today and surprised the hell out of me. You're allowed to use your other hand to help. Relax the shoulders after you begin to get into position. It's good for ya.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

2013-03-27 More Email From Paul Wade...

Ok, I realize that this is a picture of actor Tommy Lee Jones, but I kind of imagine Wade looking like this- a tough looking but wise old dude. We had some good email discussion yesterday (Wade not Jones) about working out and stuff going on in the PCC community. All good stuff. It felt good to get compliments and to be reminded that there are lots of others out there who are like minded.

CC is solid, no doubt. But we also have to remember that life is dynamic and I would imagine that Wade would tell you, "Look, you don't actually live in a prison like I used to! So don't act like it!". He didn't actually say this but I suspect that CC is meant as a base-building process- to get us all to start thinking about full-body movement, isometrics, body control and awareness, gymnastics, calisthenics, and above all- strong, quality, movement. Don't become a prisoner to your own fears.

Something to think about.

In other news, I was reading the Wikipedia entry on John Grimek, and it was awesome to see that :

" Despite his retirement, Grimek continued serious training for many years, and was still able to squat with over 400 pounds for reps in his late 60s. "

This is one of the guys that Wade talks about in Convict Conditioning. He was undefeated as a bodybuilder in the 1930's and 1940's. Apparently he was a big fan of calisthenics and gymnastics, which is pretty cool. So squatting 400lbs for reps in your 60's ? Yeah, that sounds like healthy knees and back to me.

Monday, March 25, 2013

2013-03-25 Compassion

Feeling like I was a little too hard on folks lately. Everyone has their own learning process and time period for success, and it's personal for each individual. The best we can hope for is a free-flowing and open minded exchange of information.
Have understanding and compassion for others. It's the only hope for the human race.
On that note, I aced a few ten-second free standing handstands! That felt pretty cool. I still feel like I'm making general CC progress, but it's meant a little longer workout period at lunch. Those resistance band shoulder exercises from Mr. Portal are really good for you, trust me. Keep at it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

2013-03-22 Pay Attention

Were there personal computers with a mouse and a Herman-Miller Aeron chair and a monitor out on the Serengeti for thousands of years during the evolution of homo-sapiens? I think the unarguable answer is a firm "no". Have our bodies molded and changed a little bit over the past fifty years to accommodate these things? It's arguable, but I'd say that for the most part we are far worse off (in our physical bodies and health) by having had to conform ourselves to these tools in the ways most of have, regardless of how well-intentioned the designers were.
Back pain, spinal surgery, poor eyesight, bad knees, chronic shoulder problems, stiff neck, carpal tunnel syndrome, weak hands, elbow problems, obesity....these are modern manifestations which are the result of one hundred thousand years of evolution meeting head-on with industrialization in an instant from a historically relevant perspective.
When I see people online demonstrating techniques of locomotion or methods of movement meant to "re-set" the body or heal it in some fashion...for crying out loud just spend a few minutes observing a baby. Open your eyes and behold what is in front of you (people at a restaurant, children playing, etc.). Examples of both what is good and bad.
Spend ten minutes watching this silly video of babies rolling around and I guarantee you'll learn more about human development than ten hours of some stiff and rigid trainer mimicking a two-dimensional industrial machine.

Pay special attention to the articulation of the hips during a regular crawl. Newsflash: the hips move back and forth, with the spine curving gently from left to right. Try it for yourself too. Feel it. And then, realize how sad it is when grown men are unable to do what a infant does easily.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

2013-03-20 Time Constraints

Today I had a little less time to do my workout. Still was able to move onto new stuff. Doing weighted chinups (60lb and 30lb), Airbabies (Hard as hell but getting better), and the regular stuff.
I'm still working parallet pikes but found them REALLY hard today. Not sure why, but my numbers went down. Perhaps because I did TWO sets of Ido's "Shoulder ROM" for warmup. Those things will bullet-proof your shoulders no doubt. I'm gonna stay with the 2 sets of them even though it's time consuming. We'll see how it goes after a few months.
More thoughts, gotta increase my time upside down that's all there is to it. Set aside time every single day to hold a handstand.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

2013-03-19 Leaps and Bounds

They say that when you get stuck on a plateau, you're often there for a while. But they also say that when you start breaking personal records, it's a cascade. Ok, actually I don't know if "they" really say that, but I am saying it right now!
I am VERY excited today for two reasons. First, I did some jump rope today because I hadn't planned on a CC workout (nobody showed for martial arts class), and found that my cardio had improved significantly from last time I jumped rope. Keep in mind that I generally do not do "cardio" work, calisthenics only these days except for periodic jujitsu so this is pretty interesting. Second, I killed the One-Arm Hold ! (video below) I wasn't even training calisthenics today, I just felt in the 'mood' to try this pullup move.

I suggest you go jump up and grab a pullup bar, hold ninety degrees, and then let go of one arm and hold it for a few seconds before thinking it's a piece of cake. At least for me I have never been able to do this! (Except as a kid I think, but I weighed 80 pounds back then and I'm 170 nowadays). So this is exciting and has given me new-found inspiration to plow ahead with the one-arm pullup work.

Oh yeah, I forgot...this is post number THREE HUNDRED. :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

2013-03-18 Broke Another Record

Today I worked one arm pushups on a bar at 27". This is the "#2" Position on the Smith Machine in the Gym. Goal of two sets of ten (each side) was completed. Now onto the #1 position.
I also did all my other stuff, just continuing to learn and grow and get better flexibility and strength in the shoulders. Flexibility and strength in the shoulders is a good thing. Reaching behind your car seat to lift a bag and wincing in pain is not.
By the way- form is everything. I see pictures online of guys doing "One Arm Pushups" and it just looks like they're moving their shoulder around, twisting the body around, bunch of other nonsense. Take it easy and backup for awhile.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

2013-03-14 A New Personal Record

 Well, I had faith it would come. Granted, it's only the first of many more I believe. I want to work toward the one arm pullup and weighted pull-ups are what I have been working diligently. Today I strapped on two 25 lb. plates and did two sets of five reps. That is 30% of my bodweight. For my next exercise I did ten reps with 25lbs. Now I begin adding weight. My rule is to reach 2x5 with the higher weight, and simultaneously work toward 1x10 with half that weight, then add weight to both and start over. I believe that this is the best way toward a one-arm pullup, because even though the OAP is a skill it also requires ridiculous strength- period. Jim Bathurst of BeastSkills recommends reaching the ability to do one rep with 90% bodyweight before being able to seriously consider a one arm pullup. Makes sense.

I found this great article about the current record holder: one rep pullup with 200lbs added weight.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

2013-03-13 New Learning

If you're over 40, (and ESPECIALLY if you are a martial artist, combat athlete, etc.) can you take your shirt off quickly with absolutely no thought whatsoever to shoulder discomfort or pain? If you think you can, try it at home. Rip your T-shirt off quickly like you did when you were a little kid. Be honest with yourself. You may be quite surprised at how you have unconsciously accommodated injuries and stiffnesses that have developed over the years. This is an opportunity to learn something about yourself.
I'm only one week into this new stuff from Ido Portal (along with my main CC training) and I am ALREADY experiencing better shoulder mobility. That's the good news. The bad news is that I have become aware of how horrible my strength is in certain angles. For example, I cannot rotate into a bridge AT ALL. I can push straight into a bridge, but if I put my arm out and try to rotate into one...forget it. This is new learning.

Monday, March 11, 2013

2013-03-11 Air Babies and Caveman Rice Pudding

Recently I found out about a guy named Ido Portal and I have been fascinated ever since. His work reminds me about the real reasons for training (or at least the most important ones). I think you can boil down reasoning for training into two categories: external and internal. Internal reasons are reasons like: "I want to feel healthy and strong.", or "I want to have better shoulder mobility so I'm not in pain.", or "I want to improve my knee stability and strength to prevent future problems or surgery." External reasons are things like: "I want to look good naked so I can impress females.", or "I want to show off for my friends with crazy handstand tricks.", or "I want to appear skilled and knowledgeable in these exercises." This is not a judgement, it's simply an observation.
Ido's work reminds me of the dynamic nature of movement. Actually it's a kick in the face after doing CC for so long. I'm NOT bashing CC, it's just that I need to add dynamic flow work into my regiment. I need to get my shoulder mobility to a much higher level, and I need to be doing free-standing handstand pushups and one-arm handstand holds. Also, my bridge work needs some serious improvement- and all of Ido's stuff looks extremely helpful in this regard. Pushups and pullups and squats are very one dimensional. That doesn't mean they're not worth a shit, it just means that they are one dimensional. Consider the "Air Baby Extensions" as shown in the video below. 

The movements are more dynamic than frog stands- they are moving toward fluid flow which includes strength development as well as balance. If you cannot do frog stands, then you'll have a hard time with these. And these are just the beginning- his advanced stuff is crazy hard. (But not unreachable). Now consider the strict one-arm pushup (CC style). I'm probably going to go out on a limb here and say that though I haven;t given up on it, I am diverting my energy to pursue more....functional movements.It will be there later, and I may come back to test it. But it ain't at the top of my priority list anymore.
My future work (and today's workout) are including much more of this type of work as I continue to understand it in greater detail.

There has been a lot written about the "Paleo Diet" lately, and being an extreme non-conformist I like to reject those things which themselves reject the theories which reject noncomformity. Got it? I found this book (haven't read it yet but did read the Salon article) which rejects the Paleo Diet on basic grounds that the major assumptions people make about Paleolithic man are very misguided and incorrect.

For example, grains have been found at Paleolithic man's encampments which suggest that they in fact ate grains. I think, maybe they even ate rice pudding (that's my input). Hell, wouldn't you eat anything you could get your hands on if you lived back then? Imagine how well In-and-Out Burger would do 25,000 years ago?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

2013-03-07 Growing Beyond

Marcel Duchamp. Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (1912).
Oil on canvas. 57 7/8" x 35 1/8". Philadelphia Museum of Art.
 When I first learned what this patining represented it blew my mind, especially as a math and science junkie (when I was in college). Generally speaking, we live in a world of three dimensions, plus time. To visualize a fourth physical dimension is pretty much impossible since it is outside of our reality. Before I understood that, I had been trying unsuccessfully to visualize another dimension. What would it look like? Then I was introduced to Duchamp's painting and told that one could visualize three dimensions plus time (four dimensions) in this painting. It is somewhat of a blur, and you can imagine a person descending a staircase...each moment depicted all at once. This is what it might look like. Dynamic. Not static.

What does this have to do with Convict Conditioning? CC has taught me a lot about myself and about the human body. I may not have reached my genetic strength limit, and probably haven't even knocked on the door yet...but that door is visibly in sight. However, I caution that this is regarding STATIC strength. There is a whole other universe where people are doing amazing things and maintaining astounding levels of flexibility, range of motion, and strength in motion (as well as in isostatic holds). One of those persons is Ido Portal. Watch this short video and tell me that you are not completely blown away.

It should be quite obvious that you need a certain level of physical strength to begin to even START training for some of these movements, and that's where CC has served me well. Most of the people I come in contact with in my life are my age or slightly older, and their bodies are almost useless beyond sitting at a computer or occasionally walking to their car. Others are far stronger and more flexible than I am, and I love having this dichotomy in my life. When you only live in one world, it becomes very easy to think that your way, your body type, your capabilities and limitations, your philosophy are shared by everyone else.

When I'm 70 years old, I won't care if I can deadlift 350 pounds, but I will very much care whether I will be able to reach into the back seat of my car and lift a seven pound bag without experiencing pain. I won't care if I can do a set of weighted pistol squats, but I will care if I can stoop to pickup my groceries without blowing a knee out or feeling pain in the knees. I want to be able to do pullups now and into my senior years but I want to maintain a dynamic life, a dynamic body, and a dynamic mind. This is the natural direction.

So again, CC is an excellent base for gently moving into getting quite strong safely (I stress safely). And I think that the concept of SLOW PROGRESSIONS and the concept of RECORD KEEPING and reaching SET GOALS are absolutely invaluable tools which I have learned. I will continue to use CC as a general guide, but I am slowly moving into new territory. More info to come.....

Monday, March 4, 2013

2013-03-04 Lazy Monday

Had a long meeting at work. Not enough time to get a good workout in....gonna chill today. Back at it Wednesday.