Jasper Roberts - Blog

Friday, January 24, 2014

2014-01-24 Don't Underestimate The Power and Difficulty of Calisthenics

I've had a bunch of people lately coming to me to learn about "working out". The biggest challenge is getting them to get the ideas they have out of their head. Forget Schwarzenegger. Forget bench presses. Forget "core" versus "weights". Forget all of that. They're relics from the '80 like Leif Garret, The Rubik's Cube, and Pac Man.
Today I took some time to discuss my theories on joint health, integrated body strength, the dangers of sitting in a chair for 99% of your waking time, and many other topics about being a human being with a young guy in his 20's who asked me for training help. He seemed to be already in decent shape- not overweight, decent build, played basketball, good flexibility, etc. He did have a few prior injuries but I took note not to stress the knees or shoulders too much. I got him started on some very low level basic exercises- bench pushups, assisted half-squats, hip bridges, and bar hangs.
As time went by he started to laugh at how much harder the exercises actually WERE than what he thought they were by seeing me do them and talk about them. Fantasy meets reality.
Then near the end of the hour he said he didn't feel so good and I thought maybe he had pushed himself a little too hard (when I specifically said not to), and was feeling nauseous perhaps. Nope.
Sits down, BAM- lights out. Luckily I was standing right next to him watching him when he passed out and I caught him and lowered him onto the ground to rest. All is good after some food and rest. Definitely low blood sugar and not used to this much exertion, but goes to show you how looks can be deceiving.
A few pushups and leg lifts....sounds simple but yet that's how you can turn into this:

So my student is fine now. I just hope he rests this weekend and returns to training...easily and progressively.

Monday, January 20, 2014

2014-01-20 My New Training

I've spent about three years doing calisthenics quite consistently. As a consequence, I've learned a lot about the human body, about fitness, about strength, and about myself. I've become stronger physically than I was before, but I reached a point where I was getting diminishing returns at times.
It's not a total showstopper, but I realized that sometimes you have to go to the experts for new and better advice. They may not have all the answers but they have some answers you don't have. that 'some' may be the edge that you need at that crucial point in time.
I realized that I needed to focus. And so I have.
My goals today are 1) Achieve a one minute free standing handstand, and 2) Perform a one-arm chinup.
Knowing what I know now and having been through what I have over the past three years I believe that I can reach them. That said, I HAD to change my training regimen.
The focus is heavy on those goals, and the rest is maintenance. I'll still be doing pushups, squats, bridges, leg lifts, stretching (new stuff) and handstand presses but the bulk will be lots of handstand drills (proper ones) as well as specific chinup training focus on 1-Arm.

This is the new path.

Goals- They're good tools.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

2014-01-18 Continually Refining and Defining Your Path

Many people find a comfort in dogma. It's easier to  follow than to lead, even your own creation. If you never refine and modify along the way then it's hard to imagine you're really growing much. It's critical to question what you're doing from time to time and be honest with yourself. Of course, not everyone is capable of being honest with themselves. It's terrifying.
When I first picked up Convict Conditioning I knew there was something to it. And now, t seems there is a bodyweight and movement culture springing up from the earth. It's exciting to ride this wave. CC is dogma in man ways, and to never question it is close minded. Again, there is tremendous value in it, but it's only a book.
What do you want? And more importantly, where are you going?
I hired my first coach yesterday. I want to master a REAL handstand. I want to master a one arm chinup. There are many other goals but these two alone are lofty on their own. And I'll start here. I'll start over in some ways, building on the strength I've developed.
I highly recommend reconsidering specifically what is is you are really trying to do and question everything about it. What are your specific goals?
My coach, Daniel Spencer is a great guy. If you live in the San Francisco bay area get in touch with him. This is from an older webpage but highlights some of his skills.
In my opinion, mastery of your physical body including health and joint strength well into old age is the end-game of all of this.  There are many critical parts and you need to get out some, as they say. Look to other sources for knowledge. Keep moving forward.

Monday, January 13, 2014

2014-01-13 Blisters Versus Calluses


Today you get a bonus post from me since I've been thinking about this topic for some time.

Do you want hands that look (and more importantly FEEL) like the top picture or the bottom one?

I know some people think that blood is a badge of honor, and sometimes perhaps it might be. However, MOST of the time it simply means you were an idiot and you were careless.
Blisters are an emergency REACTION from your body to protect itself as quickly as possible. Calluses on the other hand are a slow ADAPTATION of your body, enabling it to perform better than before. Properly conditioned (read: progressively conditioned) hands are able to sustain rougher treatment and longer work time than unconditioned hands. Unconditioned hands subject to the same conditions as the callused ones will blister and potentially bleed.
So if you are in an emergency and have no choice, then get blisters and let it be. If you have a choice, then there is simply no need to get blisters. Take your time and get calluses slowly.

2014-01-13 How to Get in More Volume

I've changed up my routine a bit. Now, more than ever when I finish a set of pushup exercises I move right away onto Leg Raise exercises, then Calves, then back to pushup work.
This way I'm rarely sitting around resting. After a set of one-arm bench pushups, I can go right into hanging leg raises even if my pushing muscles are tired. It's a great time saver and keeps the heart rate up a bit.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2014-01-08 My New Rant - Extreme Skill Required to Prevent Injury? Really?

Ok, so the trend in strength conditioning is to learn the difficult skill of doing the exercise to keep you safe form injury....Wait, WHAT!?!
Let me ask you a question: Have you ever heard of someone separating their shoulder or otherwise getting injured from doing pushups? Not a thousand pushups off the couch, but just in general. Ok, how about wall pushups? Extremely unlikely. Now, have you ever heard of someone getting injured form doing Olympic Lifts or from using a kettlebell? Of course you have.
Does this mean you shouldn't do that stuff at all? I'm not saying that, but I am questioning the usefulness of something that requires strict and perfect from to prevent fucking yourself up pretty good. And while we're on the topic, do you enjoy walking around all day sore in the quads, sore in the shoulders, sore in the neck,  sore back, sore abs, sore whatever? Oh, good you enjoy feeling shitty? Then please continue doing whatever you are doing. I hope it pays off for you and improves you life, perhaps you'll feel even shittier as time goes by thus accomplishing your goals.
In the meantime, I'm starting over from scratch. The kettlebell can wait a little longer (I know I hardly gave it a chance), instead I'll get back to my routine and amp things up a tiny bit with my new weight vest. I've taken the time to build up to it don't worry.
Still going to add in some more run time. Jogging seems like a fairly safe bet for exercise. Fairly...for most people. Start out lightly and build up a bit. Run a mile...not 100 miles, there's something called a car that accomplishes that goal much more efficiently.
Rant over.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014.....A Time for New Beginnings

Happy New Year everybody. I was going to get all excited about new goals and all, but I've got some new physical challenges that are likely to set me back a couple months. No big deal. This is an opportunity not something to get depressed about.  Serious calisthenics are challenging on the body, and if you're doing a planche or a one-arm chinup then you're stringer than 99% of the people (pound-for-pound) walking around out there. I'm not there yet but on my way.

Two things to touch on briefly. First, because of some physical issues I will be starting kettlebell instead of my normal CC-style routine I've been on. It's actually a huge change. I will be working more endurance but still working some skills. I'm going to back off on some of my more intense exercises for a little while, and will discuss at some later date what's up. I'm excited because I've been meaning to do this but haven't had the motivation. Now I really have no choice. Sweet. Choice made for me.

Second, I wanted to mention my experience visiting a gym. Specifically I went with my wife to the YMCA, which is a fantastic place for family fitness. I also got a chance to test my mile time but I messed up the machine and I accidentally ran much further. Still, it seemed like my mile time was a horrible 11:00 minutes, but I don't know for sure. I'll test it again some other time. I never run so I didn't expect to kick ass.

What really struck me was the massive number of 'machines' clogging up otherwise valuable floor space. Where was the space for pushups, bridging, handstand work, KB swings, floor mobility work, stretching, squats, leg lifts, yoga work, etc. ? I really felt like a fish out of water. I got a really stark realization that all those machines were absolutely ridiculous. They're anachronistic really. Hell, nobody was even using them for crying out loud! They are a holdover from the 1980's era of body building and other Gold's Gym 'get pumped up'  nonsense. They've got to go. Free up floor space for bodyweight work, add pullup bars, free up wall space, and get more free weights. THIS is the future of every gym in my view. Machines are for high end bodybuilding competitors and rehabilitation centers, period.

Don't get me wrong, the YMCA is a great institution. There are also TRX classes, and a big basketball court, rooms for classes and other movement based events which I may go back to with the wife. Also they've got a nice pool for when the kid starts learning to swim. Even the treadmills and stair climbers are ok, but those other damn machines......get rid of them.