Sunday, April 5, 2015

Shogun Speaks: On the Onnit Academy L1 Certification, Part 2

Greetings, seekers and walkers, Shogun back again. Alright, so in Part 1 of my Onnit Academy Certification experience, I talked a bit about my own backstory, at least as training relates to it, and of course I spoke a little bit about what it was that led me to the Onnit Academy. All well and good, but what actually happened that weekend so long ago (well, ok, like a month ago), what did I think of it, and what should you be aware of if you’re considering going through the certification? Well, some thoughts and a couple pieces of advice…

This is going to be a long post, so let’s just get right to the TL;DR:

    Obviously I had a positive experience or I wouldn’t be talking about it, so yeah, go do it. Even if you’re not interested in getting certified, you’ll learn quite a few new ideas that you can roll into pretty much whatever you’re doing, including basic open chain mobility (which we ALL need), some new ways to use old tools (I’ve been swinging kettlebells for almost 10 years and I learned all kinds of new things), and some new tools you probably haven’t spent much time with (Steel Mace FTFW). Overall, the seminar was both educational and entertaining, the content well presented, and worth your time and money.

    Cool, now for those of you who are still with me, let’s get to some details. As I mentioned, I didn’t really know too much about the Onnit approach going into the weekend, but I think that was good as it put me in a “tared” state right away. I’ve noticed this is something that’s served me well in my pursuits of physical training knowledge, that idea/ability to just let go of any experience I might think is relevant and just accept whatever is coming. I thank Systema for that, because they certainly do things a bit differently at the Onnit Academy, but in a good way.

    My first piece of advice, then, would be to approach the weekend with an open mind. Hopefully that’s why you’re there, right? To Learn! And learn you will, for example, I’ve been working with kettlebells for quite some time, and Coach Wolf at one point asked everyone, “So what do you do when you run into someone who can’t do swings?”, to which my response was “Well, I’ve never met anyone who couldn’t swing,” which is true, or so I thought, but after the seminar, I realized that I’m probably not assessing people correctly and underestimating the complexity of a swing, and not just a swing, but all the foundational movements that connect to a swing (which is a big part of the Onnit approach, and I’ll talk about that in a bit). I’ve used zercher sandbag good mornings as a teaching tool for swings in the past, but after what Coach showed us at the seminar, I’ll be doing something different going forward. Old dog, new tricks, confirmed.

    Speaking of Coach Wolf, let’s talk about him for a second. I won’t linger on this too long because I don’t want to seem like I’m blowing sunshine up anyone’s ass (and you guys who know me know I don’t do that anyway), but, the man was on point and set a pretty high bar for not just future Onnit seminars, but training seminars in general. Some of the best seminars I’ve been to were due largely to the fact that the presenters could keep an audience engaged for the duration, and Coach Wolf did that in spades. He knew the subject matter, presented it well, walked the talk (seriously, dude is jacked AF can clean and press The Beast, like, smoooov), and I tell you what, the man’s funny. All in all, he definitely gave me something to aspire to as a coach/instructor and presenter. If you’re reading this, John (well, even if you’re not), a personal (or as personal as a blog post can be) thanks, for making it a great experience, and I’m definitely looking forward to our next meeting.

    My second bit of advice should go without saying: Be in decent shape when you show up! Personally, prior to my certification weekend I took a week off of everything else just to work on things like mobility, basic strength and cardio, as well just to make sure that I wouldn’t show up totally gassed from my usual training week. As you can probably imagine, you will be doing work, learning new movements, and more importantly, new movement concepts. I mean, it wouldn’t be terribly beneficial to just watch someone else go through the motions, right? Who knows, there might be one or two surprise physical challenges as well (hint, hint).

    Being able to "feel all the movements", or as Arnold says, "...put your mind into the muscles," is the other reason you’ll want to show up fresh, relaxed, and ready to work, and here’s why. The thing I like most about the Onnit Approach could best be summed up by this thought from Coach John:

“Most people say to start with strength, but if you don’t have mobility, you can’t build strength. So start with mobility.”

    In retrospect, it makes perfect sense, and it probably goes without saying that not starting from mobility is why we all end up gimped out, banged up, and not concerned about mobility until it’s a huge issue. What this translates to in practice, at least in my interpretation, is learning the specifics of both performing and teaching the basic, foundational movements of which the more complex movements are comprised, and that's the key reason you need to be able to really feel the patterns. The more aware you can be, the more you’ll still be able to recognize those basic patterns as the movements get more complex, e.g feeling the proper tension in a hip hinge or a squat, so as you move up to, say, steel club cleans and steel mace flows, you'll recognize how those basic movement patterns fit into them and therefor always have a reference point for both performing and teaching those complex movements. A little sub-bit of advice here is go lighter with the implements than you think you might need. For the kettlebell section, even though I work in the 24-32kg range, I used a 12kg bell. Basically, find a weight that gives you enough control to progress through the movements with good form, but enough resistance that you're not fighting to keep the weight from "blowing in the wind". Remember, it's not a competition, it's an educational experience!

    To summarize, I’ve paid a lot of money to spend a lot of time in a lot of different seminars, and this one ranks up there with Martin Wheeler’s Systema Master Class. If you’ve been with me for a while, you know that's one of my favorite annual seminars that I pretty much earmark the dates for every year, so that’s saying quite a bit. If not, well...all I can do is reiterate the point I hope I’ve made several times throughout the course of this post, which is, even if you’re not looking for a certification and you’re just interested in adding some new tools to your toolbox, sign on. If education is your goal, you'll get that, and I guarantee you will learn at least one new thing (have I beat that horse into the ground yet?). For myself, the major takeaway was learning how simple movements like a hip hinge and squat actually apply to each other, how to progress into and through those movements, and how to apply those principles and practices to higher order movements, not just for people I'm working with, but for myself as well. This progression and understanding the connections is already improving my own work, and I’m excited to see how I can bring this to other folks. One of the things I say about Systema all the time is that Systema taught me how to walk. In a similar vein, I say that Onnit taught me how to stand, and what I mean by that is that both Systema and Onnit have given me very solid ways to consider and apply foundational ideas that extend to everything else I do, and I can't think of a more valuable takeaway than that.

    So what's next for me? Well, as far as gettin’ and bein’ Onnit (c’mon, you knew I was going to drop that in at some point), I’m looking forward to doing some work with Duane Ludwig later this month (not an official Onnit event), attending the L2 Durability and Steel Mace courses in September and November, and certainly rolling some of this stuff into my teaching opportunities. Just to fanboy a bit on the way out, I’m excited to be part of this org. This is the first of my planned certs for this year, and I think I chose...Wisely. If you have any specific questions about the certification process, please don’t hesitate to reach out, and I’ll respond as best I can. Once more, a big thanks to Coaches John Wolf and Travis Janeway, as well as the management and staff at Vigor Ground Fitness & Performance in Renton, WA (friends in the area, check it out if you're looking for a place to train), Let's Train Again Sometime.

So Cheers, friends, keep seeking, when you find it, start walking. And when life starts to push, push back, F**k Life, Go Train!

Shogun, Out.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Shogun Speaks: On the Onnit Academy L1 Certification, Part 1

    It’s been a week since I participated in the Onnit Academy L1 Certification weekend up in Renton, WA at Vigor Grounds, and I’ve been thinking about the process itself, what I learned, and what I want to do next it quite a bit. It’s a lot to talk about, but part “what I want to do next” is talking, or blogging, vlogging, basically just putting info and perspective out there, so let’s get started. I know, I know, I’ve been promising to training blog and vlog for a while now, trying to scale back time spent at the office so I have more time to pay attention to this sort of thing. It’s basically either work less or train less, and I think we all know what I think about the latter…

    Alright then, for some background, one of the goals (no, I’m totally not afraid to use that word) I had set for myself last year was to get some personal training certifications. Not to sound too head-in-the-clouds or anything like that, but one of the things I’ve been trying to do for the last couple years is be open to the universe, you know, go with my own energy, and I notice when I do that honestly, I always come back to physical training, whether it’s combatives/martial arts, powerlifting, or just general strength training. Truth be told, I’ve probably studied, read, planned, programmed, and of course, PRACTICED, as much as any CSCS or NCSA certified coach, well, RECENTLY certified, let’s say, so I figured it was probably time to get at least a little serious.

    As I’ve stated a few times previously, I didn’t really know much about Onnit other than seeing the occasional pop-up in my facebook feed and for some reason I didn’t really pay attention. Call me a snob, I think I just have an overdeveloped facebook ad filter. It’s weird, my curiosity was definitely picqued by seeing that they were working with the likes of Joe Rogan, Jason Ferruggia, and Joe DeFranco to name a few, but yeah, again, for some reason I didn’t really dig too deep. I have my good friend Brad, he of RiggingDojo fame, to thank for pushing me over the edge, as it was his sharing of the Onnit podcast with Kelly Starrett that was pretty much my gateway drug. Dr. Starrett, of course, dropped some great knowledge bombs; finding myself impressed by both the scope of the conversation and the presentation in general, I spent the rest of the day watching the Onnit Total Human Optimization Podcasts, which I definitely recommend if you’re into training at all.

    Pretty much everyone of the vidcasts is a gem in and of itself, but the one that really resonated with me was #44: Unconventional Training, Attitude, Mobility, and Your Questions Answered With John Wolf. Definitely watch the whole thing, but it was some of the comments he made at around 27:11 about mapping tension between the body and the psyche that really grabbed me. As you can probably guess, a little bell went off in my head and I thought “Wow, that’s Systema 101, ok, now you got me.” I think I’ve mentioned this a few times, but that’s really the most valuable thing I’ve taken from Systema, the tension awareness and management, so anytime I come across a system that addresses that idea, I’m immediately interested.

    So as I dug through the website, I naturally came across the Onnit Academy section and started reading a bit more about the certification. It seemed like a fairly low overhead approach, at least the L1, and I figured that since I had never done any sort of fitness/training certification courses, this might be an easy one to jump into (truth: it definitely wasn’t “easy”). I had planned on being up in Seattle the weekend they were offering the next L1 Certification, so…listen to the universe, right? Signed up, and off I went. In retrospect, it’s a little funny, I went from 0 to L1 Certified in the course of about a month, but you know, that’s cool. The river just sorta pulled me along, and there I was.

    I think I’ve rambled quite a bit, and I need to go swing some kettlebells before it gets too late, so I’m going to break this into two posts. Next week I’ll talk about the specifics of the weekend and some overall thoughts on being Onnit.

Stay Fast, Stay Strong, Stay Mobile, Stay Hungry, and remember, whenever you start questioning life, Fuck Life, Go Train.

Monday, January 19, 2015

On to week three

    You know it's funny, every year for the last few years I've said something to the effect of "I'm going to blog more this year," and some years I do, some years I don't. It's not that I don't feel like I have things to say, I just get demotivated for no reason. Well, that's not entirely true, and in fact makes me want to read more on the human psyche and the biochemistry behind emotions, I mean, there may actually be something to that whole "toxic people" thing, maybe you really are poisoning yourself the longer you spend around 'em. It's crazy how our minds are able to affect our mental states, both positively and negatively, isn't it? Anyway...

    Some interesting things happened going into this year with my training schedule, some changes I was anticipating didn't happen, and some changes I wasn't anticipating did happen (isn't that always how it goes?), so I'm having to rethink my training schedule for this year in order to hit all the points I've been setting up for the last few, and to be honest, I'm still moving things around, but hopefully things will start crystallizing by the end of the month. I'm getting closer to something workable, trying to stay flexible, but going forward, there are definitely some immutables.

    One of the big hard-fasts for this year is to get my SFG Kettlebell LI Certification, which some of you may recall I had slated for last November. Well, November came and went, and my snatch test time was hovering around 6m30s-ish. Given that the overall cost of the trip would've been around 3000 and the recommended standard going in is "plus two minutes", which either means seven minutes or three minutes, neither of which I was confident about (especially the latter), I didn't want to bet all that cash and a weekend on hoping I had a good day. That in mind, I'm planning my training around Brett Jones's SFG Kettlebell Certification Prep Guide. Simple, straightforward, and hopefully effective.

    Ironically (extra points for proper use), I'm not even sure what I'm going to do with my SFG Cert, but I think it'll be a good thing to have. I know quite a few folks who are interested in being high-performance, and I'm a firm believer that kettlebells are the way to get there, at least for the levels that most people are trying to achieve, so who knows? For now, I just want to live through the event.

..."get ready to face the floor"

    This puts me in a good place mentally by giving me some breathing room to do other training, because there was no way I was going to give up my mat time this year. Towards the end of last year, I was only doing Kajukenbo, and oddly enough, not training all my other styles really affected my Kaju negatively. Well, that's not true, I've always held that I don't train a specific style, I train my style, and if I only train one style, then my style suffers.

    I don't think combatives training is going to be an issue this year, it's funny, thanks to a seemingly innocuous post on one of my Facebook groups, 2015 started off at a dead sprint, but then, I didn't actually do anything for NYE, so being able to get up and train on Day One was a great opportunity and a really cool way to set the tone for what's coming. I'm going to go on record and say the best training decision I've made for this cycle is to just fuck everything and get to 10th Planet San Mateo as often as I can. Ditto Systema and Silat, I went back to Systema last week and you know, there's just nothing like that feeling of being free. THAT'S the thing my style has suffered from most, it's almost like for the last couple of months I've had this fear of movement, and for a time I'd forgotten how to breathe. And you know what happens when you stop breathing and stop moving...(hint: you're probably dead). It's cliche to say, but it's like being born again. After birth comes life, time to get to it.

    I'm going to finish by leaving this video here, I actually found it while writing this and the overall tone, well, the overall tone as I perceive it, is something I've been thinking about since sometime last year. But as I've already rambled, ranted, and raved enough for this post, we'll have to discuss it next time. That said, I'm going to go grill some sausages and finish eating. Eat food, lift weights, and MOVE YOUR ASS.

...maybe it's better to be the villian...

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Anabolic Fast Food: Surf 'n' Turf v1

DISCLAIMER: This works for me and is the result of a few years of experimentation in both training and meal timing. Your milage not may, WILL ABSOLUTELY vary if you try this as written. Anyone who's not me should just use this as a loose reference point or friendly suggestions for whatever it is you're trying to do. If you have specific questions, post in the comments or Email Me!

    I often get asked about what sort of food combinations, otherwise "meals" one can eat when eating high-fat/keto. Fair enough, it's definitely a daunting question, especially if the last time you did any sort of nutritional research was when fat, salt, butter, and the nitrite content of bacon were horrible things that would kill you multiple times over. Hint: they're not, they won't, and I'll try and clarify when necessary. Just remember...Fat Is Our Friend!

This is really what he's been trying to tell us all these years...

    So welcome to the inaugural post of what I'm calling Anabolic Fast Food. Anabolic Fasting is the term I use to describe how I eat, but careful not to confuse it with Purium's Anabolic Fast, which is a super low calorie 7-Day fast weight loss Fast. In my case, the Fast refers to the fact that I follow a Leangains/IF-type pattern, though maybe a bit more...well, for lack of a better term, extreme. Traditionally, IF calls or a 12-16 hour fast window and the remainder as an eating window, I tend to fast until after my last training session for the day and cram all my eating into about a 2 hour space, including prep-time. If you think about it, it adds up to about a 20+ hour fast, and somehow this all works for me, including the hard fasted training part with no carb intake. Now, keep in mind that your mileage may vary with both meal and training timing, so definitely feel free to tweak. That said, here are a few other points to keep in mind:
  • I use the term keto and anabolic interchangeably. Herein, I'll just be using the term anabolic, in honor of Dr. DiPasquale's work.
  • I also use terms like fatty, fat-heavy, and fat-laden quite liberally. These are not negative descriptions! Remember, Fat (from natural sources, especially animals!!) Is Our Friend!
  • The goal of each of these meals is to favor fat and stay around 2500 calories. That means I don't necessarily count macros, but I tend to stack my meals with more fat-primary foods as opposed to lean proteins, as you'll see.
  • Yes, I eat the same meal every day of the week, so I'll only be posting these once a week.
  • Corollary to that, I only eat once a day, hence the term "Anabolic Fast," and hence why each meal seems huge-ish (relatively).
  • Even though intermittent fasting is meant for weight loss, Anabolic Fasting is not, in fact, I'm currently in a strength, mass, and performance phase. As I said earlier, tweak calories and timing for your purposes and training schedule.
    Alright, now that we've gotten all the boring stuff out of the way, let's get to what really matters, FOOD! For Surf 'n' Turf v1, we'll have:
  • 1.5 lb Tilapia (~880 calories)
  • 1 lb uncured bacon (~630 calories)
  • 4 oz smoked salmon (~160 calories)
  • 4 oz garlic and herb goat cheese (~360 calories)
  • 6 eggs (~420 calories)
  • garlic and green onions (for the eggs)

Yes, I will eat all of this, yes, it will be delicious, yes, you should too.

    This comes to around 2450 calories, and could definitely be split up over a couple of meals. Actually, I usually eat the smoked salmon and goat cheese first, then the bacon a little later (which gives me all that awesome grease for the fish and the eggs), and then of course, the fish and the eggs. That's just me, I'm lazy and uncreative. One could conceivably combine this or other ingredients into a pretty wicked frittata and eat on that all day. I mean, ultimately, as long as it all gets eaten, it doesn't really matter, as long as you find something that works for you. So that's it for this episode of Anabolic Fast Food, tune in next Sunday and we'll see what I'm eating for the first week of 2015...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Feed Me Fame

  I should be writing code right now, should be doing that thing I get paid for, but instead I’m writing this post because, well, it’s been way too long. It’s funny, I had all these great plans at the end of last year, but...that thing they say about plans. Even now, I haven’t really trained in about two months, haven’t lifted in about three, and probably won’t get back to it until January, some commitments notwithstanding. Usually I write my year end review...closer to the end of the year, but hey, it’s December. This year has 31 days left to its credit, so that’s close enough.

  Not sure it was a coincidence that this came across my desk when it did, but this was definitely the push that inspired me to start writing this (and if I do anything better next year, it’s seizing inspiration. Call it trite, but hey, it works for me):

  I jive with the idea that you are what people perceive of you. That’s a thing, I’m not really into all this GenX/Y/Z/Millennial/whatever bullshit that “It doesn’t matter what people think of you, do what’s best for you and fuck everyone else,” or whatever other “motivational” type things people tend to post on their facebooks about how much they don’t give a shit (or what do the kids say “no more fucks to give”), you know, because loudly proclaiming your indifference through faux shows of independence is somehow a show of strength…

  Oddly enough, that’s an issue I’m facing right now. I don’t care what most of the people around me think about me right now, and I DON’T LIKE THAT. I want to care what people think about me because yeah, it does make me be a better person (“Well you should just do it for yourself,” yeah, shut the fuck up). I LIKE when people have some sort of expectation of me, it gives me a clear target. Now, that’s not a blanket statement, sure, there are some expectations and some people whose expectations of me don’t matter (not that they won’t ever, they just don’t right now), but I’d be lying if I said I subscribed to the notion that expectations don’t matter.

  I guess it’s not entirely true that I don’t care, I do care what most of my training partners think about me, I do like that people expect me to perform to a certain level in class, I do TAKE IT REALLY FUCKING SERIOUSLY that some folks in my Kaju class consider me the spiritual leader...and that’s what I always come back to. Training. I know I’ve fucked up when I’ve made decisions that take me away from training because to date I’ve never chosen anything that required a fundamental change to my training schedule that made me happy in the long run. Hell, I’ve been to both some really bright places and some really fucking dark places over the last year, and it’s cliche, but I always come back to training, without fail.

  This year, I gotta admit (just to be a little goth, because why the fuck not), some of the darkness came back with me (poetic, right?). I realized one of the reasons I train is because so many people don’t, and some of those people, makes me feel better than, no, it makes me feel superior to them. Yeah, I said it, and I’ll even go one more and say I NEED to feel superior to those people. How’s that for dark places? I went through a lot of personal shit this past year, as did many people I know, and the thing I learned is that everyone needs to deal with things the way they need to deal with things (or to take a small dig because that's where I am right now, I learned that "Bros before Hos" is TOTAL FUCKING BULLSHIT, thanks guys if you know who you are), and I’m cool with that. What I’m not cool with is people “doing what they need to do” and not giving a shit if that makes me uncomfortable, but then turning around and getting pissy when me “doing what I need to do” makes them uncomfortable. So that’s part of it. A big part of it. Yeah, it’s probably shitty, and “not alpha” as seems to be the thing to say nowadays, but it’s where I am, and I’ll work from here. So I need to get back to it. Kaju, Systema, Silat, Grappling, Weights, Conditioning, the whole nine. Especially Systema. Maybe I can breathe some of that darkness, that tension, back into myself like Martin was talking about.

Here are some expectation:
  • Wear my kaju brown belt at Vegas this year
  • Get my black belt in 2016
  • Help teach Silat again
  • Start that Systema study group
  • Get back on the instructor track for Systema
  • Finally take grappling seriously
  • Finally take teaching Kaju seriously
  • Hit all the seminars I've scheduled
  • Deadlift 500+ again
  • GET MY FUCKING SFG (this one's going to be tough)

  Focus. It’s nice to have focus. It’s nice to have a standard to live up to. Because let’s be honest, as much as we all talk about living up to our own standards, our own standards are also the easiest to let slide. Don’t lie. My ego is definitely whispering in my ear saying that some of these expectations come from other people (which they probably don't, no one gives a fuck what I do, because that's what we do nowadays, right?), but it's what I need to do here now.

"'s time to come home."

  I don’t want to post this, but I’m going to. There are a few blogs I started following this year that have really changed my view on things, and recently I read a post on one wherein the author asks:

“Do you feel sick when you hit publish?”

  I’m not going to recap the whole post, but you should read it, in fact, you should read the blog. This is a metric I'm going to hold myself to, because I do exactly the thing he calls out in this blog, artificially inflate. Hell, look at my facebook, it's all just art and training and no drama, which is cool, but is it complete? Not sure, but then, maybe facebook's not the venue for that anyway. So even though all I’ve done on this blog for the last year (the scant times I posted, anyway), is whine, if that's what I got, that's what I got. Here’s to the new year.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Jiu-Jitsu and the Cardboard City that Glitters

I have always found Las Vegas to be a sweltering death trap and bizarre social phenomenon.  Usually when I go, it's for work, and so I only see it from the third person perspective.  This time, I went for a Kajukenbo seminar with three of my other gymmates; Seth, Carlos and Ronnie.

The first day was lessons, and the second a tournament.  Of all the things I saw that first day, Grandmaster Jay struck me the most.  He is an old man (who doesn't look old) covered from neck to feet in tattoos who lives in the woods on the border between Oregon and Washington.  He spoke of the body by referring to technical names (Vegas Nerve, Trapezius, ect)  and referred to humans as first bioelectric, and second biomechanical creatures.  A lot of things he talked about resonated with cross-disciplinary research I've done, tightening circles, strike points, breathing practices.

I would really like to take a long weekend here and there to visit, just to get a training dump.  Those sorts of concepts are where my curiosity is heading... propreoception and thinking of the work in terms of the opponents local axis (as opposed to world).  That is really where the soft martial arts go in a lot of scenarios I've seen... moving with the body so that they can just feel you on the outskirts, like a breath on the fingers, in order to lure them into holes. (Push Hands, for example).

It reminds me very much of a project my group discovered at Siggraph last year, made by Tactical Haptics.  Its so clever, the controller has a mechanism that shifts its weight forward or backwards, pending on what sort of reaction the game is trying to give you.  With that little amount of touch input, the game is able to convey a HUGE range of sensations that all feel real.  What that project made me realize is that human touch is very sensitive, but it acts as a secondary depth cue with other senses that give us the illusion of depth and space.  If you feel a little jerk in an upward direction while you watch a sword slicing upwards through a virtual object, it will feel as if you made contact. (Regardless of the fact that your arm isn't remotely close to where it would have to be to hit that target)  This is exactly what soft flow martial arts teach.  Touch the opponent in just the right place to give them a localized haptic feedback so that they feel they've made contact.  They'll keep reaching, right up until the point where they overreach, and then you have them.  Its all a game of illusions.

Here are some videos of the grappling tournament.  I'm happy with the progress I've made since my last tourney (that must have been about a year ago), and there is a LOT LOT LOT that can still be improved on.  Regardless, I like posting videos, so that in a few years I can make a study of work over time.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Chaos and Pain, One Month In

...strong as a mechanical bear. If I were a ranger, my Jaeger would be called Kodiak Riot.

A spicy chocolate stout?  I wonder if that's what they mean by "Mexican" style.  Either way, it's freakin' delicious and I recommend you pick up the Clown Shoes Chocolate Stout, if you are in fact, a fan of the chocolate stouts.  If not, I can't say that it's the one that's going to change your mind, but there are many other chocolate stouts.  Mayhap you'll find the one you like and work your way back.  Anyway, I realized that I've (somewhat inadvertently) been on Chaos & Pain for about a month; figured it might be a good time for a check-in, so here we go...

    I say inadvertently because I had originally meant for February to be a draw-down month between the higher rep work I had been doing in January and then I'd start CnP in March.  As you might recall, I came off of 10K Swings in December, so January and February were going to be my ramp-ups back into barbell training.  January went alright; my original plan for February was 8x4 in preparation for CnPs prescribed sets of triples, doubles, and singles.  That lasted for about, oh, 3 sessions before I realized it was a) really damn boring and b) after a month of nothing but kettlebell swings, I really just wanted to crush some plates, especially since I'd felt a little stalled out at the end of November (though I was happy-ish about my deadlift, kinda).  So week two of February came, and away I went...and what a freakin' awesome ride it's been.

...CnP is pretty much the airboat ride of barbell training.

    Ok, so what exactly is "Chaos & Pain"?  Well, in addition to being the blog of one Jamie Lewis, of raw powerlifting fame, it's also the name of his training program, although even Jamie himself admits that it's not really a program or a protocol so much as it's a set of concepts that one could apply to their training.  I guess it's kinda like the Wing Chun or Systema of barbell training, in that sense (my words, not his).  For the full rundown straight from the bull's mouth, I'll point you to his articles outlining the program:
    My own take on Chaos and Pain varies a bit from Jamie's prescription, but if you've read any of the CnP articles, you've probably gotten the idea that CnP is about taking the general guidelines outlined in the articles and making them work for you, and I definitely feel like I've done that.  I've read time and time again from different program authors that if you don't do their program as written, you shouldn't call it that program, but with CnP, I think it's imperative that you do your own thing.

    First, I'm keeping to the idea of a session consisting of a squat, push, and pull at least three times a week.  I also kept the total number of reps to around 30, well actually 30 reps exactly, not counting warm-up sets.  Additionally, I add in two or three days of lighter work on off days, usually consisting of kettlebell work, so it's three days of squat-push-pull, and two or three days of kettlebell work, for a total of five or six sessions a week.  Lastly, I adopted the eating plan outlined in Jamie's Apex Predator Diet series, which I'll touch on in another post.

    As far as changes, they've been pretty minor.  I was mucking around with numbers and I noticed that 3x4+3x3+3x2+3x1=30, so even though Jamie recommends triples and lower, I adopted that as my set rep scheme for this first month.  I like it because it lets me hit different weights and the non-linear loading presented by the different rep counts keeps  The other major-ish deviation I made was leaving in cardio in the form of my martial arts training.  At first I figured I might just drop my kickboxing class since that tends to be the most energy system intensive work of all my training, but then I figured it would give me an opportunity to experiment with caloric intake, which has actually been the most interesting part, and I'll touch on that in my future Apex Predator Diet article (which I've dubbed Cherno Fuel).

...takes a lot of resources to build a fighting machine.

    What, then, does a typical session on my version of Chaos & Pain (called Vladivostok, you may get the reference...) look like?  Well, here's what I usually do on Days 1 and 2 (whatever days of the week that ends up being):

Day 1
  • Squat
    • Warmup: 4x4
    • 3x4
    • 3x3
    • 3x2
    • 2x1, 1x1-3
  • Behind-the-neck Push Press
    • Warmup: 4x4
    • 3x4
    • 3x3
    • 3x2
    • 2x1, 1x1-3
  • Rack Pull
    • Warmup: 4x4
    • 3x4
    • 3x3
    • 3x2
    • 2x1, 1x1-3
Day 2
  • Warmup: Two-hand kettlebell swing (10/15/25/50)x2 16kg
  • Kettlebell circuit with a 16kg bell:
    • One-hand squat x8
    • One-hand press x8
    • One-hand clean x8
    • One-hand swing x8
    • One-hand snatch x8
  • Perform one one side, then repeat on other side
  • Repeat both sides for a total of 5 circuits
    Add in my martial arts training and it's a pretty solid week in general that hits all the bases: Mobility, conditioning, maximal strength, and skills.  Could almost be training for an MMA fighter...or a masked vigilante, I suppose.  Either way, it feels complete, and I'm having a pretty good time with it.

...or training to fight monsters, zombies, or rogue soldiers. The day is coming...

    So my expanded thoughts on CnP one month in go something like this.  To start with, unlike this fine gentleman, I'm am(sic) certainly not waaayyyyyy overtrained.  If you read Jamie's articles, I think you can understand why it's imperative that you figure out how to make the CnP principles work for you.  It sounds to me like the dude in the ironaddicts posts tried to pretty much do the hardest version possible and missed several points which are clearly outlined in the articles, so of course he got overtrained.  Basically, RTFM and don't be a jerk with something to prove to your sycophant forum readers.  You just end up disservicing everyone at that point, yourself included.

    Getting back on track, not only am I not overtrained, I feel great.  One of the reasons I wanted to try Chaos & Pain was because I missed lifting heavy for low reps, and while I won't claim that I'm lifting "heavy" yet, the loads are certainly taxing enough.  I really believe I'll be deadlifting high 400s-500 (though with straps) and front squatting in the 300s again by the end of April, when I switch over to SFG prep.  It's also been great to revisit partials, I can't remember the last time I had them in regular rotation.  Some people aren't fans, but I love them, and I think they'll be another useful tool to help me smash through this plateau.
    As far as side effects, well, for one, I love the post-workout feel I get from CnP.  When I do higher rep, shorter rest sets, I feel gassed, not that it's a bad thing, but the exertion definitely hits right away.  With CnP, it's more like, once I'm done, my whole body is just...not tired, not worn out, but very relaxed.  Granted, if I don't warm up properly, then I feel beatup, but I've never had that feeling for more than a few hours, it usually just gets slept off.  Who would've thought that shouldering heavy loads would be such a great tension manager?

...almost as good as percussive massage. Almost.

    Another side effect, which I alluded to earlier, is that I've had to really go back and rethink my nutrition, everything from caloric intake down to macronutrient breakdown.  Haven't had to futz with timing too much yet, and I'm noticing it doesn't really tend to matter.  Either I get my protein during the day and slam a serious hunk of cow at night, or I'm pretty much screwed the next day.  Speaking of protein, total intake is another thing I've really had to adjust, but I'm glad I did.  I try to stay around ~350-400 a day, and the restorative effects I've been experiencing are nothing short of awesome.  No soreness, I'm sleeping great, getting bigger, and not really putting on much fat, in fact, when I went off 10K Swings, I could sorta see my top two abs in the right light.  Now, almost two months off of it with increased calories and macros, I'm noticeably bigger, but still can see the abs. 

    What about my performance on the mats?  I mean if guys are out there getting overtrained on this, I must be worthless, right?  Quite the opposite, I feel more explosive, more mobile, more flexible, and more focused.  This could be from a number of different factors, but I'm not going to be so arrogant as to say that my martial arts performance is going up in spite of the program.  Like I said, as long as I sleep and eat enough, I'm not having any problems.  No such thing as overtraining, just undereating and undersleeping. a six-armed demigod facing giant space bhuddas. That's how CnP makes me feel.

    The short of it, then, is this:  Next to 5/3/1, this is the simplest, most fun program I've ever been on, so much that I'm extending it one more month through April.  Originally I was going to hit 10K Swings one more time in April and cut a little more, but to be honest, that was more for vanity than performance.  Looking good is not part of my work anymore, and you know, I really don't care if I never get laid again (and that's real talk, not some sour grapey nonsense.  No Ego, Just Work).  Much like I always return to martial arts and strength training, I always also return to the idea that I want to be strong as a mechanical bear, and I can't see how that's not going to happen if I stick to this, eat properly, and sleep well.  I'm making one small tweak to my set-rep scheme going forward, I'm dropping the 3x4 and going 5x3,5x2,5x1.  Still 30 total reps, but more opportunities to muck with numbers.  I imagine there'll be some dietary tweaks required too, which I'll talk about in my next post.  Till then, Eat, Lift, Fight, Live.  Peace.

There'll be this next time. LOTS of this.