Jasper Roberts - Blog

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

2013-09-24 Ways Around The Mountain

Sometimes the long path reveals seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Find a way around. Don't waste your time digging though that mountain. You're a human, not a machine.
Here's an example of a tool I invented to help with both my chinup and pullup work. It combines isometric holds with slow classic CC work, and dynamic explosive work- all in one exercise meant to improve a particular movement.

Monday, September 23, 2013

2013-09-23 Technology Kills

So Im typing this blog post on my new  tablet and I have to admit that the Samsung tablet is like magic compared to the gizmos I had growing up.
that said, you still wont convince me that there a sane and healthy end to this train we're on.
today even though I was tired I manged to kick ass in my workout, but skipped my skills section as I had no energy.
More later.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

2013-09-19 Informed Decisions

Today my informed decision was to skip my workout. WHAT!? How can you? Heh, well yesterday I was feeling pretty strong and surpassed expectations in my workout in HSPU work and Squat work even though I was pretty damn tired having left the house for work at 4:30am for a special presentation.
So today I'm just not feeling it. Instead I ate lunch outside and stared at trees- this is my new pastime that I learned from my 3 month old son. Yes, you can learn even from an infant. In fact some of life's most important lessons are being taught to me by this young boy of mine without words. To just breathe and take time to observe the thousands of beautiful leaves fluttering in the breeze on a sunny day.... It's incredibly beautiful, and in my opinion more meaningful than 99% of the other nonsense we think is important in life.
Back to training, I feel privileged to be able to know what's right for me and my body most of the time and I try to take advantage of that to make 'informed decisions'.
That said, here's a clip from yesterday- what I have been able to accomplish over time. Do me a favor and try this move, then let me know how easy you find it. ;)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

2013-09-17 Functional Father Fitness (part I)

Since becoming a dad, and while simultaneously trying to keep up with my calisthenics and martial arts training to some degree, situations have arisen that caused me to think "Wow, that's interesting- good thing I'm strong in this particular way." Other times of course, things happened that caused me to say to myself " Damn, I need to work on that."

What am I talking about?

This is Part I of a several part blog post where I will touch on several important aspects of human movement I've encountered in handling and dealing with my baby and the related strength, endurance, and mobility concepts.

First let's look at something seemingly so simple that nobody ever talks about it, let alone offers a particular solution. If you've ever used a kettlebell you've heard of the Turkish Get-Up. Well, this is not the Turkish Get-Up, but there are some similarities to what I will show in the video.

Let's ask: If you're holding your baby and you're standing, how exactly would you sit down on the floor safely? (Safely for you and also safely for your child) And as a corollary, what if your baby was much older and heavier?

My answer is what some people call the tactical sit and tactical stand. Call it whatever you want but it should work for very heavy weights. And yes I have done this movement holding a 170lb person. With a 20lb baby it's super easy. It also allows you to keep your upper body posture relatively erect, avoiding back strains and remaining aware of your surroundings, avoiding falls, etc.
So the tactical sit/stand for the new Dad....

From standing, go into a simple lunge keeping the back upright. From the lunge go to a "Hunter's Pose" putting some weight on the now folded back leg. From there, transition the leg to the front and sit your ass on the ground. Drop the front leg to the ground. To rise, reverse this process.

I recommend doing this many times WITHOUT your baby until you feel very confident. Don't overthink it, rather focus on your posture and breath and balance. Use a bag of laundry or sandbag to practice. Then you're on your own.

Monday, September 16, 2013

2013-09-16 Add Spice! It Makes You Think!

Develop a base of practice for yourself, whatever that may be...then, move out of bounds occasionally. You may fail, but you'll learn. It will make you think. Be smart about it though, don't go nuts and get injured. Just play. Stay focused on your main fare, but also play. This is the healthy path to learning. In this video I have gone back to work uneven pullups, but have included the L-sit in with it. Multifunctional!

In this video below I work knee mobility. Everyone under the sun does knee rotations right? So why not single knee rotations? Duh? It's the best thing since sliced bread I think.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

2013-09-12 Work Outside The Simple Linear Paths

The human body was designed to move. We evolved to adapt to many different stresses from many different directions. Bench presses will make you a strong pusher...if you are lying down on your back and pressing straight up on a stiff, balanced object. There are large inherent limitations with this exercise. It's good for a specific thing, but lacks severely in many other aspects. Pushups and particularly single-arm pushups can offer much more in terms of full-body integration, balance and off-axis conditioning.
Yet even calisthenics are not perfect. Even pushups, handstand pushups, and pullups are relatively linear actions. Get strong doing them and suddenly putting too much stress in a direction you haven't been training and it's two weeks off with a sprain (or worse).
Learn to do work outside the linear paths and you will build a higher level of insurance for your joint health. This work varies from simple mobility to full-on resistance training including weights and elastic bands. This approach has changed my life. Years ago even though I was actively training martial arts, I was extremely cautious when doing things like reaching into the back seat of my car to grab something from the driver's seat. I could tell that my shoulder wasn't prepared for very much at that odd angle. Nowadays, I've developed a satisfactory level of strength and mobility in my shoulders to not be so concerned. Play with this stuff and make it a regular part of your training.
Below I talk about two of my favorite movements, and then there are two videos of Mr. Portal below that showing work with elastic bands. Very good stuff.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

2013-09-10 Bridge Play

Over the years my bridge has become higher and my shoulders more capable. Bridging is in my opinion one of the most important movements you can do.
There are far more advanced movements, but I've still got a long way to go. This video here shows what I am able to finally do after two years of training. Not a big deal for many people, but a big deal for me.

Now, if you want to see elite level work, check this video out. Looks easy? (Laughter..) Go try it and report back to me with video.

No matter what you do, remember to play. Keep working but keep playing. Experiment and try things. learn about your body and gain more awareness. through your own awareness you may become more aware of others. This is when good things start to really happen.

Monday, September 9, 2013

2013-09-09 The Most Important Fitness Information You've Never Heard Of

Every so often you come across something so ground-breaking, backed by such solid scientific research that it forces you to re-evaluate your entire concept of the world as you (previously) knew it, even if this information has been around for decades, ignored by almost everyone for reasons we can go into at a later date. 
What if I told you that your Crossfit, your Convict Conditioning, your TRX, your kettlebell training, your Martial Arts, your Pilates, your Yoga, Your High Intensity Interval Training, your marathon training, and especially your time in the gym.....was mildly better than doing nothing, but that essentially you were going to die of the same bullshit types of heart disease and suffer the same effects of aging as any random person similar to you who did NOT exercise the way you do (like a madman)? Frustrated by that info? Already mustering a way to refute it? Well, just sit back (or actually stand up first, THEN sit back) and relax.

And it's not about genetics, and it's not about diet. I'm talking strictly the singular fact that exercising five minutes a day or even five hours a day will do almost nothing to give you benefits IF (and this is the important "if"), if you are sitting down for stretches of time like a typical office worker. Think you're not a typical office worker? Ok superman, read the book and then re-evaluate. If it makes you feel better, I'm in exactly the same boat. If you are a postal carrier who also teaches yoga you can ignore this post.

Don't believe me?  Would you believe decades of research from NASA scientists?

I'm not going to get into all the fine details of the book, because you can go buy it and read it yourself and there is so much more there to learn (like information about fat loss and different muslce types and stabilizers versus movers, etc). Check out "Sitting Kills, Moving Heals" by Dr. Joan Vernikos. As a NASA biophysics researcher she and her team studied astronauts for many years, and as everyone knows- they suffer bone density loss, loss in cardiovascular capability, muscle loss, etc. when in space because they are not under the effects of gravity. Turns out that this is precisely what we would term "Aging" in many ways, and it is also what we see in people with a sedentary lifestyle (advanced aging). This "Aging" is what is seen for sure in people who are bed-ridden. And the Russians as well as NASA scientists did a ton of research on people spedning time in bed under laboratory conditions, in addition to the research on astronauts. Astronauts are some of the most physically fit people out there, and before and after flight missions are some of the most medically studied individuals as well. Now get this: even the most physically fit astronauts lose huge levelks of their health after only two days in space EVEN WHEN THEY EXERCISE. And yes this applies to bed ridden peopel who are under a type of micro-gravity, and by extension to CHAIR ridden people like office workers, in a similar but slightly different manner. So, what do we do with this knolwedge (that you're going to go read about) ?

This is what we know: It is critical that you are fighting gravity by standing up out of your chair and then sitting back down in it at least 32 times a day. This comes out to roughly every 15 minutes. That's it! Now as I said, I don't have time to discuss the hundred of other interesting points and details and my opinion about them (material for another blog), so either take my word or go do your own research and report back. Yes, I know there are components like strength, mobility, cardiovascual health, etc. but those are separate. Again, go read the book.

Dr. Kelley Starret of Crossfit fame, in his new book, (becoming a Supple Leopard) talks about how sitting should really be "work". Dr. Vernikos recommends using a cheap, armless chair which forces you to keep good posture and is helpful when sitting up from it, unlike "ergonomic chairs" which are on rollers and take away from your fight against gravity. Turns out that even standing desks (like the one I love) are not the answer either, but can be 'part' of the answer.

You see, as technology started out providing life-saving advances, it quickly began turning to life-easing advances after we were safe, fed, and comfortable. That's when technology started making our lives so comfortable that it has begun giving us shorter lifetimes and a worse quality of life than the generation before, at least for those living in the modern industrial societies. This is not tinfoil hat nonsense, it's fact. The human body evolved over tens of thousands of years to be good at adapting to change, good at struggling, good at being uncomfortable. Nowadays, the tasks which our grandparents regularly undertook as part of daily life (hanging clothes to dry, walking to and from work and the store (and carrying the bags), working in the garden, tilling weeds, squatting to pick up the morning newspaper, walking to the telephone to make and answer calls, writing out letters and walking to the mailbox, walking up and down stairs) have been expunged from our modern life in order to make life "easier". Let me ask you a question: Name something "big" in your life which made a huge difference to your health, your wealth, or your station in life - something you are very proud of....perhaps a college degree, a promotion at work, a company you started, raising a responsible child....was ANY of those "easy"? I rest my case.  

In the words of Mr. Ido Portal:

"Move. Move because you can. If you won't, probably you won't be able to.
Use it or you're gonna lose it. And it's gonna be a bad day when you lose it.
Move. Move."

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

2013-09-04 Tiny Joys

As you get older and have been around to experience life, you begin to run out of "big things" to get really excited about. A great new job or a big purchase or a new baby are always exciting, but never quite as much as the "first time".
So as I continue to chip away very slowly on the planche, one step on the path is the straddle planche (pictured above). This comes AFTER the tuck planche (where legs are tucked up against the stomach), and was totally impossible for me...until today. Today, even though I'm exclusively working the tuck planche (which is still hard as hell), I kissed the straddle planche for about a one second hold. Totally surprised me. Now here's the ridiculous thing....I was on my fingers not my full hand (palm). Weird, right? Maybe that's some sort of secret, I don't know.
This is one of my small joys today. The other was finding a new restaurant near my office. Delicious, fast, and healthy. Can't beat that.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

2013-09-03 Re-Appreciating The Present

There are some things in life you cannot control. In fact most things are like that. You can control everything about some things, you can be prepared and have plans, and work hard, but many times the result is not what you wanted. The key is resilience. Resilience cannot be destroyed because whatever you throw at it, adaptation is done and changes are made and something new is planned whihc still fits your goals. Eventually you will win or die trying. One of my favorite sayings is "Even a single drop of water can move a mountain...if it strikes it enough times."

I have abandoned heavy weighted chinups for the time being, and I'm going back to "re-appreciate" regular old pullups and chinups. I'm taking them super slow, throwing in some uneven and assisted single arm work, and also working in isometric holds. Slow up to halfway, pause, then squeeze hard and fast to the top. Lower slowly to halfway, hold three seconds, then lower slowly. Repeat.

We'll see what happens.