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.

Monday, February 17, 2014

An Unscheduled Rant

    Feeling like, despite your best efforts, you're still just not hardcore enough?  Like maybe you could still somehow be even more caveman like?  You have that yearning for something, something maybe you've forgotten consciously but your body remembers, but just can't put your finger on it?  Well, have I got the thing for you...Yes, friends, I give you:

...these ain't your mama's vegetables...well, unless your mom's a bear

    PRIMAL VEGETABLES!  Because they're the kinds of vegetables BEARS EAT!  Bears have been documented getting together in groups of over 100 and sprinting through the forest, sometimes for days, chasing these nutrient packed sonsa'bitches down and eventually gorging themselves on loads of alkalizing, protein packed, and best of all PRIMAL, PRIMAL VEGETABLES.  HOW THE FUCK DO YOU THINK THEY SLEEP IN A CAVE FOR THREE MONTHS WITHOUT EATING?!?!

    Look, this isn't the same weakass, organic, grown-in-the-dirt, no-pesticide, bullshit you get at your local farmers' market, THESE PHYTOMONSTERS WILL RISE OUT OF THE GROUND TO HUNT AND KILL YOU IF YOU DON'T HUNT AND KILL THEM FIRST!  You've done Crossfit, but you haven't gone FULL PALEO until you've feasted on PRIMAL VEGETABLES!  HOW THE FUCK DO YOU THINK ALL THE CROSSFIT GAMES CHAMPIONS TRAIN?!?!  BY HUNTING DOWN THESE MOTHER FUCKERS, THAT'S HOW!!!!

Look up again, Mother Fucker...

    Ok!  Ok!  You've decided you've gotta have 'em, so where might you be able to hunt, kill, and consume these PRIMAL VEGETABLES yourself?  Well, that's the best part!  The usual expedition price is $10,000 a person, no refunds given regardless of outcome, but if you act now, I'll take that one and turn it into a 5!  Yep, $50,000 and the best part is, you'll never miss the money, because at the end of it all, your body will remember that it never needed money in the first place!  SO ACT NOW AND LET'S GET TO BEING LIKE CROSSFIT GAMES CHAMPION BEARS!!!! PRIMAL MOTHERFUCKING VEGETABLES FTWOMGROFLBBQSUNOVABIIIIIIITCH!!!!!!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

10K Swings Post-Mortem

Completely unrelated, but I was up in Seattle for the Super Bowl, though less for the Super Bowl and more because my favorite bar is closing, so they were holding a special event.  Moon Temple, you will be missed!  The really cool part about the trip, though, was the vibe.  Everywhere I went, you could feel all the goodwill from the fans, it was awesome.  So to the 12, I say, thank you for sharing such positive energy.  On the (very tiny) downside, since I was travelling that Monday and sick most of the following week (funny how I get better just in time to go drink myself stupid), I had to break from my scheduled post, the second in the Mapping Your Space series.  Instead, I started putting this together, my long overdue post-mortem of Dan John's 10,000 Swing Kettlebell Workout.

    This post got a little long, so feel free to jump to any specific section if there's a particular observation you're just dying to get to right away:

    I mentioned in one of my last posts before the new year (10,000 Kettlebell Swings In The Air).  I won't rehash the entire post, but to recap (not so) briefly, most years, I try and do a cut between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day to help me finish the year out strong and slingshot me into the new year (and give me an excuse to skip Christmas/Holiday parties), which I call "Turkey-To-Tree", or T2T.  For 2013, I chose to do The 10,000 Kettlebell Swing Workout for a few different reasons:

    First, there's the absolute simplicity of the program.  I had planned a pretty hard cut for 2013, so I wanted something that wouldn't require a ton of mental commitment, something I've learned from past experience.  Also, given the fact that T2T period is also pre-CES crazytime, the simpler, the better.  That in mind, having to only do a single movement seemed like a pretty sure bet, and I figured the structure of the clusters wouldn't require too much concentration, even in my mentally-impaired-by-low-caloric-intake state.

...I mean, how hard can one thing be?

    Second, there's no disputing that kettlebell work is great for fat loss.  When you consider everything that goes into a proper kettlebell swing, which, having done this program, I can confidently say I can do now, it's basically your core, glutes, hamstrings, shoulders, grip, pretty much all points extreme and in-between getting hit like a...whatever the unholy spawn of a raging bull and runaway freight train would hit like, pretty much knocking the fat off of you.  I've done tons of different fat loss programs, and when it comes to bang-for-buck, I really gotta give it to the kettlebell swing, yes, even over the thruster, burpee, and any sort of tabata.  Your results may vary a bit on that depending on how experienced you are with kettlebells, but I really doubt they'll vary that much, seriously (if fat loss is your goal).

The kettlebell swing in creepy, disturbing, cartoon form.

    Third, I wanted to do kettlebell work specifically because I've been paying quite a bit to mobility since I injured my knee last August.  My posterior chain lost quite a bit of strength and stability while I was rehabbing my knee, and as I've mentioned wanting to do some powerlifting meets this year, I needed a way to address these concerns while also losing (massive amounts of) fat.  Yep, I figured I'm would try to proverbially "ride the two (or in this case three or four) horses with one ass."  Look, I get why internet says it's not a good idea and all that, but I'm not the run-of-the-mill trainee looking for a quick fix (more on that in a future post).

    Finally, I wanted to see if I could just do it!  I'd been planning my content schedule and all my activities therein for a bit leading up to the launch this year, but I have a bad habit of letting work and life derail stuff.  I'll be honest, T2T 2013 wasn't just about finishing and starting strong, it was about Crushing Demons, and one of those demons was the aforementioned letting life and work derail.  Training is part of my life, so I figured if I could stick with this, it's a step towards re-integrating and re-framing training in the context of life.  I know that sounds a little feel-goody-new-agey-hippy-dippy, but hey, it's honest.  So that all said, let's talk some specifics.

...coming to get you, Demons...

What I Didn't Like
    Full disclosure first, I am both a huge Dan John and kettlebell fanboy.  That said, there's nothing about this program I didn't like.  While there are a couple of points that could be potential stumbling blocks, I'm going to put them down as Things To Consider more than dislikes; they really aren't negatives so much as things to keep in mind before you start or in the event that you're programming this for someone else.  However, if I were absolutely pressed, I would say I have some issues with the T-Nation article, but you wouldn't really know of its "shortcomings" if you weren't an obsessive researcher like me, and this is another Thing To Consider I'll address below.  But first, let's talk about what I liked.

What I Did Like
    What I liked best about the program can be summed up in two points: Simplicity and Time.  Like most kettlebell workouts, this one is simple enough that you can pretty much do it wherever there's a kettlebell, but the way the template is presented allows for enough customization to keep "simple" from being "boring".  Coach Dan suggests a few different strength movements to use with the program, but I'd think you could substitute any good full body pushing and pulling movements, or carefully measured intensity/sprint work, which really gives you the opportunity to program either for general activity or tailored towards a specific goal.  Imagine doing TRX rounds, rope jumping, or bag work in between sets, or any sort of movement patterns that are relevant to your pursuits, and you start to see that the possibilities for this program are endless.

Make the tools fit the work

Things To Consider
    Now the moment you've all been waiting for, the things I sorta didn't like, but not really didn't like, but feel like they're worth mentioning so you'll be aware and hopefully make productive decisions if and when you encounter them.  Some of these are probably just conjecture based on my experience, so take most of the following points with a grain of your favorite savory food additive:
  • As I mentioned above, the T-Nation article leaves out a few very important points.  Lucky for us, Coach Dan included them in a post on his forum, and I highly recommend you read it.  It's probably safe to say that your progress won't suffer significantly if you don't read the article, but I will go so far as to opine that you'll develop better overall technique and progress faster if you follow the tenets in the post, and c''s Dan John, the dude knows what he's talking about, so you can't go wrong - Two Things That Didn't Make The T-Nation Article
  • Since you're pretty much doing the same movement 10,000 times, you'll adapt very quickly, so be honest with yourself.  Start heavier than you think you should, or be ready to move up in weight.  It gets pretty easy to get to a point where you can just sorta coast through, but I would suggest instead to go heavier and keep pushing your time as hard as you can, in fact, I would challenge you to cut your starting time by at least 30% by the end of the program.  That's actually the one thing I could've done better, keeping my intensity level up.  Next run, sub-24 minutes or bust...
  • Corollary to the above point, do not ignore or marginalize the following piece of advice: "This is a stand-alone program. If you feel you're able to do a second workout in the same day, then you are 'underbelled' – you're either not going heavy enough or not training with maximal effort."  I mention this because I've seen a lot of folks on various forums and workout sites using the clusters set as a supplemental workout to their "main" training, and I'll admit that even I was still hitting the mats, albeit on a severely reduced schedule, so no fight cardio days, no kickboxing or sparring class, just technique classes (Kaju, Silat, Systema, etc).  But that was all I did, there was no trying to hit my big three in the afternoon or alongside (which honestly, would be insanity).  In retrospect, even doing two cluster set sessions a day, which I did a few times to stay on schedule, is also cheating.  I know, I get it, it's a simple program and you'll be tempted to muck with it, or your ego will tell you that it's so simple, of course you'll have overhead for another workout, you're a member of that "trained population" the studies love to cite.  I say, in the words of Marsellus Wallace, "Fuck Pride", resist that temptation, check your ego, and go all out.  Use a 28kg bell if a 24kg is too easy, or heck, step up to the 32 or 48.  Do whatever you need to do to ensure that the program is challenging enough that you can do it at least 90% as presented.  I'm buying both a 28kg bell and a 32kg bell in prep for my next one, doing what I have to do to go as hard as I should be.  I invite and challenge you to do the same.

"...and I'm telling YOU, Marsellus, Fuck Pride and do the program right! So, we cool?"
"Yeah, we cool."

Through My Lens
    So I hope that I've come across as having an overwhelmingly positive opinion of this program, if not, guess I really need to work on my delivery, because, yes, I like and absolutely recommend this program.  I've already planned on doing a second run, with some tweaks based on my first go-around, and I've gotta say I'm pretty excited about it.  Having a reference for what kind of times I should be hitting, as well as what levels of physical exertion I should be reaching should make my second run even more beneficial than my first, provided I can figure out my calories so I'm not passing out tired and eventually stunting my fat loss, which, sadly, happened (although 18 lbs lost isn't that bad).  To summarize the rest of my thoughts:
  • The 10/15/25/50 cluster with a lighter bell makes a great general warmup; I'm using a 16kg for 2 or 3 sets to warmup for my heavier kettlebell work.
  • I'm pretty much convinced that the two-arm kettlebell swing is one of the most underused movements in training.  If you're like me and need to work on your mobility, you're doing yourself a huge disservice by not including kettlebell swings in your mobility programming.
  • This is a great program to introduce someone to kettlebell work.  I'm a firm believer that the swing is the first movement someone should learn, and the structure of this program, along with Coach Dan's notes on technique, makes it near impossible for someone to learn to swing improperly.
    Even if you're not a huge kettlebell fan, give this program a shot.  As I mentioned above, I'll be using it again as both another cut and to springboard me into a six month kettlebell training cycle, wherein I'll be prepping for StrongFirst Kettlebell Instructor Level 1 Certification in November.  Wish me luck, and if you have any more questions related to programming for this program, Email Me or post a comment below and I promise I'll get back to you. step down the new path.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Shake The Ground

Ok, I've officially failed at staying on my content schedule not two weeks into it.  I'm late posting this week, the original post I had scheduled for this week is barely even started, and the replacement post I wrote for that post is ALMOST done but still needs some serious editing, so I guess we're falling back to (a hastily concocted) Plan C: Shake and "Juice" Recipes!  I'll admit that I'm the last person to be posting recipes since I don't really cook anymore, but I figured maybe some hard information as opposed to my usual load of anecdote and observation might be a welcome change.  That and how hard can it be to screw up shake recipes?  Of course, I make no promises to the effectiveness of these recipes for you, I just know they work for me.  But they are pretty tasty (again, my opinion).

...Burroughs had his own ideas about what should go in shakes, I'm sure.

    The astute among you are probably wondering why Juice is presented in quotes above.  I'm glad you asked!  See, when most people think of juice, I get the impression that their idea is basically the combined humours of various members of the vegetable kingdom.  This is both valid and correct, however, here in Landbear Territory, juice basically means pulp.  Pulp means fiber, and for someone that eats meat like I do, fiber is good.  With that in mind, I have to take a moment and plug my shakemaker of choice, the Ninja Mega Kitchen System.  Now, I know this thing has gotten some bad press from some juicing sites, and rightly so if your idea of juice is purely liquid, but for me it's great because I don't have to have two devices, one for juice and one for blended shakes.  So if you like your juice with some punch, grab one of these.  Really, my only complaint would have to be the choice of names, I mean, the way this thing goes to town on just about everything that make the bad decision to wander to close to its six blades designed only for the massacre of foodstuffs, I think "Berserker" would've been a much better historical warrior for this thing's namesake.  Seriously, that's my only complaint, so onto the recipes...'s basically a whirling tornado of food evisceration.

I Drink This In The Morning
  • 2 small cucumbers
  • handful or so of kale (a handful is about 3/4 of a wet cup, I don't pack it in, I just grab a handful...or so)
  • handful or so of spinach
  • handful or so of lettuce (greenleaf or romaine, iceberg is somewhat nutrient devoid)
  • handful or so broccoli florets
  • maybe two handfuls of frozen berries (or 1/3 of a package of Trader Joe's frozen berry medley)
  • 1 fuji apple
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 6-8 "baby" carrots (I know, they're not really baby carrots, just peeled and cut down normal carrots)
  • 5 or 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 16-20 oz chilled green tea
  • Water to top off (or sugarfree beverage, I use Crystal Lite)
  • (Optional) 1 scoop protein powder (something fruit, vanilla, or plain flavored, I use Isopure)
  • (Optional) 1 or 2 servings of your greens powder of choice (I use Biotest Superfood)
  • (Optional) 4 packets of stevia, Splenda, or other low/no-cal sweetener
Sometimes I Drink This At Night
  • 16oz almond juice (or some other nut juice, I refuse to call it milk, sorry)
  • 2 scoops chocolate-ish protein (I use one scoop of Sun Warrior and one scoop of Isopure)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (I use Pavel's Original Russian, it's the only full-fat stuff I can find around here)
  • 4 packets splenda, stevia, or some other natural sweetener
  • 1 tbsp PB2 chocolate
  • 4 tbsp peanut butter (PB Co White and Dark Chocolate are awesome)
  • sugar free chocolate syrup
  • 5 ice cubes
    No clue about macros, calories, other than I think the first one has a ton of fiber and no fat, and the second one should have more fat and protein than carbs.  May not be the best choice if you're trying to keep calories down, but if I've learned anything in the last few months, it's that I've been keeping my calories too far down, so I'm trying to focus more on keeping my macros in check and not worrying so much about total calories, given the volume and types of training I'm doing.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I've Come From Where I've Been

So I really haven't been blogging much the last...well, forever, and I realized the main reason is that I wasn't writing in my own voice.  For some reason I felt like I had to sanitize, organize, and basically go through all this process that made writing hard and not fun.  Not that process is bad, just that mine was so scattershot and focused on the wrong things that it became the epitome of process that just gets in the way.  So, I'm going be better about blogging this year (that's the most of a resolution you get out of me), this time with a new process, approach, and an actual schedule.  I'm not a professional writer, so when my writing voice can be the same as or near my thinking and speaking voice, I tend to write more, and have more fun doing it.  Corollary to that, I'm going to try and not post too many NSFW images (no porn or anything) or get too vulgar, because really I don't swear that much in real life, just when I get excited...and I guess "NSFW" depends on where you work.

...probably the most NSFW thing I'll post, boo if your co-workers can't take a joke.

    To give a bit more context before I jump in, one of the main things I learned in the last few months is that I have an unnatural love of training, to the point where it feels like a second job (but it's that proverbial "DWYLLWYD" type job).  This realization and acceptance was a big part of me getting on track and focused, which I credit for the huge upswell in positivity in my life as of recent, and it's been a marked change (people say I smile more).  As a result, it's going to seem like some of these blogs are super random and have nothing to do with training, technology, or any of the topics I originally set out to pontificate on in this blog.  In the interest of organization (a little), I'm starting another blog for stuff that's obviously not training related in any way, personal philosophy type stuff, random observations, art and creative process, etc.  If I start out on something and it obviously belongs there, it'll make it's way there (and you'll never know the difference;))

The blog is called "Finding My Mexico", if that phrase means anything to you (hint: it should)

    OK! Onto the meat of this post.  I've noticed a trend over the last couple years, this idea that, without fail, "Man, Last Year Sucked."  Seriously, take a moment, browse your social feeds from around NYE/NYD, and verify this for yourself.  In retrospect, it was the same last year, and I imagine if I were to scrape feeds from all the years I've been on social networks, it'd be the same (hmm, visualization project?).  Now, I don't mean to brag when I say this, but when I look at last year and going forward, I'm pretty happy!  Sure, I didn't do everything I wanted to do, had some false starts, some changes of direction, and some running through molasses, but I feel like I came out of it all with some good direction, and most of all, a destination I think is reachable.  I'm terming the process Mapping My Space (which I guess is a nod to work, so i'm not leaving it completely behind), and I'd like to share some thoughts on that over the next couple posts.  Granted, I can't give you a step-by-step that's going to work 100% for you, but maybe the Cliff's notes will give you some ideas. 

    I'll be honest, the real motivator for me was me was in a nutshell thinking: I need to Fix My Shit, which is something I think we all need to do to some extent.  Now, I don't want to come across as some tough love peddler, because that's really not what it's about.  I realize that some people, probably quite a few people, went through very real situations that they had little-to-no control over, and I'm not trying to make light of that at all, in fact, my heart goes out to quite a few folks as I know people have lost loved ones, had horrible accidents, business mishaps, relationship problems, from ugly breakups(definitely feel you on that one) to divorces (involving children, alimony, petulant ex-es, etc) and the like, so I understand some things do require a bit more than just a simple flip of the switch.  In fact, let me indulge myself a bit (further) and whine...uh, I mean elaborate to give a bit of context (although "break up" is a slight misnomer): I went through what to me was a pretty jarring personal incident literally the week of Christmas, made all the worse because it really did come out of nowhere, you know, it was one of those situations that you feel like, ok, I've finally got a handle on this, I can get a little comfortable, and then Crack!  Right on the button (down goes Frazier, DOWN GOES FRAZIER!!).

You never see the one that gets you. Probably why girls make such good fighters.
Ok, no more negativity directed at women ever again. Moving on.

    From my perspective, it was definitely bad enough that I could've just said, "Fuck it, 2013 is a wash," (though, in retro, it now seems so small and far behind, even just a month later, that it's laughable to think I could've gone down that road, in all seriousness, not being petty) and let me be clear, the outcome was shitty, i mean, i lost someone out of it.  That's never good, but choices had to be made, action had to be taken, and the best course was just walk away.  I'm not saying it's easy and over, it's still a thought and I'm sure i'll be dealing with it for the next few months, but the fact that I have a plan for how to transition my energy keeps me comfortable with saying "that's just how it's going to go," and letting the plan flow.  I know i've sorta skirted around my weird relationships in other blog posts, I'm not going go into detail about them, but I also promise that I'm not going to ever mention relationships again, even in passing.  Over, said, done, keep breathing, keep moving.  So let's pull back out a bit now and start setting the stage for the actual process...

...or hallucinogenics, because this MIGHT require a bit of a shift in thinking on your part.

    Here's the thing, I'm actually not opposed to people declaring that it's a new year, new me, or that this year is the year that they're going to become a badass at whatever their chosen focus is, and fuck all the folks who love to meme that shit, you're all kinda dicks.  Personally, I think it's fuckin great, it hypes me up too!  I get excited to see that people are passionate and I get even more excited to see people succeed and become that new them or hit the levels of awesomeness they're after.  It actually amazes me a little that more people aren't supportive of that pursuit, although I guess it could be chalked up to ego, something about how we view even the slightest bit of emotional investment as tantamount to full commitment, and so we take it as a personal slight when we encourage someone to get after it and then they don't live up to our expectations...of what they were going to do for themselves.  Put like that, it seems even weirder that people instead tend to have this sort of attitude (with friends like that...):

...honestly, this meme pisses me off more than most of the others combined.

    The problems set in after the initial New Year excitement wears off and we're left wondering...Ok, where do I go from here, or even worse, everything just sort of fades out and we continue to trudge on along a similar path unless something major like a move, new job, or unfortunate tragedy jars us onto a new path. That's exciting (in a good or bad way) for a bit, but eventually we tend to drift back to the same courses of action from our previous state, right up until, oh, say about the 31st of a December of a given year, whereupon, we look back and decide, "Man, Last Year Sucked," made all the sadder because this year was the year we really decided to do it and make some changes, you know, do things differently, become a personal badass, be the new me, and all that such positive affirmation (despite whatever snarky memems internet decides to foist on us).  So where did it all go wrong??  We came seeking awesomeness!  I'm going to hypothesize a bit based on my own experience and say that often it boils down to a few points, including, but not limited to:
  • Lack of focus, because of
  • Too short- or too far-sightendess, which lends itself to
  • Unqualified expectations, leading to
  • Lack of perceived progress, all of which stems from
  • An unclear plan, due to
  • Lack of personal honesty (my words applied to myself, not commenting on you)
    As I said, including, but not limited to, so I don't mean this to be a definitive list or a call out, nor am I saying this is what's going on with you.  Again, this is based on my experience and observation, thus, these are the things I noticed in my own process.  But let's be honest, I'm sure none of these sound out of the ordinary at all, and if you take a moment and think about it, you may even be able to identify some of these as your own sticking points, I mean, I read this list myself and it does sounds like Self-Help 101, which is probably just a commentary on what a textbook case I am.  I promise, this is as generic self-helpy as this is going to get, my intention going forward is not to give you a blanket process for solving the problem, instead, I'd like to take a look at how I solved (am solving/addressing) these issues through my own lens, including my training focus, well, especially my training focus, in the hopes of you being able to replace training with your own personal equivalent focus and move forward from there.  In the next Wednesday's post, I'll talk about how this all started with me and how I addressed the first couple of these posts, so stay tuned.  Serious as a heart attack when I say I'm going to get back to blogging this year.  This is going to be one (of many) awesome year(s) for me, you should do the same...

...because 9 out of 10 fence-jumping Corgis already think you're awesome.