Friday, June 29, 2007

Weak By Choice

I went to a funeral a few years ago. The ground was damp, and as we walked across the cemetery to the grave site, one of the elderly women slipped and fell. I found out later that the fall was the beginning of the end for her. Apparently she broke her hip and never recovered. I was reminded of this when I came across this New Yorker article about aging. I found it via this post at Dynamic Fitness, and after reading the entire article, I keep coming back to the piece he quoted:
Each year, about three hundred and fifty thousand Americans fall and break a hip. Of those, forty per cent end up in a nursing home, and twenty per cent are never able to walk again. The three primary risk factors for falling are poor balance, taking more than four prescription medications, and muscle weakness. (emphasis mine)
Muscle weakness. For the vast majority of people, preventable or treatable. According to this article about strength training for the elderly: "Osteoporosis substantially affects roughly 20% of the population, whereas muscle weakness affects virtually all seniors." How much media coverage does osteoporosis get vs. muscle weakness? Maybe because you can't swallow a drug to treat the latter. You have to actually get off your butt.

As a Canadian, I often look at health care in terms of "what are my tax dollars paying for"? How much money could my provincial system save by reducing the number of falling-related injuries?

Unless God decides to send my bashert sometime soon, I will likely age and die alone. Fine by me, as long as I'm mobile and independent, but neither mobility nor independence is compatible with being weak-by-choice. Being weak-by-choice needs to become socially unacceptable, rather than a condition that evokes sympathy.

Two more links: a profile of Dr. Maria Fiatarone-Singh who pioneered research on strength-training for the elderly. Money quotes: "Being a couch potato is lethal" and "It's never too late to start. Lots of people are starting in their 80s and 90s." She's also quoted in this article, dated 1993(!). The information has been out there for some time. What are we doing with it?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Rest Day

No workout at Gym Two last night. 15 minutes on the rower, then I spent the next hour and a half showing my colleague how to use the weights. I enjoyed it very much; it's just another type of teaching, really. I will start studying for a personal training cert (I'm thinking CSCS) once I get back from my trip. Never hurts to have another piece of paper on one's wall. :-)

No training today. I got the list of classes I'm teaching next year. I will have grades 6, 7, 8, 11 and 12 which is a nice combination. Met one colleague for lunch, then met another colleague for a study session this evening. We looked at Avot, which is a collection of sayings by various sages from the Mishnaic period (around 70-200CE).

There's this M00re documentary film about US health care opening tomorrow... If you're going to see it, I suggest this short film about the Canadian health care system as a reality check. And if you have extra time, read this summary of the Cha0ulli case.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Gym One and Gym Two

I'm going to Gym Two tonight with one of my colleagues. Gym Two is renovating and putting in silly machines that tell you what to do. I didn't want to take the chance that whatever equipment I needed will be unavailable, so I went to Gym One this morning and got my Day I session done. Didn't eat enough this morning so I got home after training and ate the fridge, figuratively. Now that Day I is done, I'm planning to use tonight as GPP: rowing machine, farmers walk, that sort of thing.

Training Day I: Chest/Push

Flat BP (abwork b/w sets: stomach vacs)
6x50lbs
6x80lbs
6x100lbs
6x90lbs
6x85lbs
12x50lbs

Push ups leaning against a bar (abwork b/w sets: leg lifts on bench)
6xL3
6xside supports
6xfloor
6xside supports
6xside supports
12xL4

Single arm pec deck (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step f/b)
6x30lbs
6x50lbs
6x63lbs
6x60lbs
6x55lbs
12x30lbs

Skull crushers w/ tricep bar (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step s/s)
6x22lbs
6x32lbs
6x37lbs
6x32lbs
6x32lbs
12x22lbs

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Useless Agent Update and Stuff Elsewhere

Remember the useless travel agent with whom I was arguing several weeks ago? She sends me an e-mail advising of a "minor schedule change". Except that this "minor" change lands me in Atlanta 43 minutes before my flight to Israel departs. Not wishing to deal with her again, I called the airline directly and changed my Kansas-Atlanta flight so that I have three hours in between. Just in case there's a delay somewhere. Then I hear from one of my Orthodox friends that he called his airline directly and discovered that his request for kosher meals never made it to their computer. He would have ended up fasting for twelve + hours.

I visited the EFS site today. They have women's t-shirts now, which I will be delighted to buy as soon as they put up a size chart, because, as we all know, women's t-shirt sizes vary wildly by manufacturer, style and barometric pressure. I, for example, am a Han3s small and an American Appar3l large. And I'm fine being either one, as long as I know that the shirt will fit me before I put money down.

Anyhow, some time back, Dave Tate decided to get under 5% BF. Check out the before & after shots. Wow. And over in the Q&A section, Jim Wendler (10% BF) shares some of his diet philosophies:
4. If you eat something and it tastes like shit, don't eat it.
5. If you eat something and you FEEL like shit, don't eat it.
[...]
7. Eating vegetables and fruits is good, but only the ones that taste OK. I'm not going to live my life eating crap.
8. It's easier and cheaper to eat clean than it is to eat like crap.
9. (Amendment to #8) You should eat crap sometimes. We all have our Diet Demons.
Going to their site always makes me smile. However, it also costs me money because I discover more things I want. This used to only happen to me in bookstores.

Shaking My Head

I made the mistake of checking the web for news "just one more time" before going to sleep last night, and ended up staying awake and on-line till 3:40am, following the Ben0it story. I was a wrestling fan for a long time, until I gave up television and the WWF/E gutted the women's division and replaced simple good vs. evil story lines with raunch & sleaze story lines. Still gleaned info from the web occasionally, and the knowledge came in handy connecting with some middle schoolers who were shocked to find that I knew anything about it. So to say that I was stunned by yesterday's news would be an understatement. I enjoyed Ben0it's work because he worked hard consistently in the ring, regardless of whether he faced a beginner or a fellow star, and because he came across as a quiet, no frills Canadian. And now this. I can't fathom the evil that is needed to murder one's spouse and child. Watched the various tribute clips recorded before details had emerged, this one was hardest to watch.

So today was unexpectedly difficult. I got very little done before I got to the gym and when I was finally in the gym I kept losing concentration during my sets.

Training Day IV: Hams and Other Stuff

Bicep curls (abwork b/w sets: stomach vacs)
6x17lbs
6x27lbs
7x32lbs
7x27lbs
7x22lbs
12x17lbs

Lying cable curls (abwork b/w sets: leg lifts bench)
6x35lbs
6x60lbs
7x73lbs Used a 3lb db on top of the weight stack.
7x70lbs
7x60bs
12x35lbs

Deads (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step f/b)
6x65lbs
6x105lbs
7x130lbs
7x120lbs
7x115lbs
12x65lbs

Ham Curls (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step s/s)
6x40lbs
6x60lbs
7x80lbs
7x75lbs One of the strolling women - by which I mean the ones that stroll from machine to machine and do symbolic sets while gaping at 0prah - came by as I was doing these and said to me dismissively: "Circuit training, I used to do that, jumping around." Ok then. Thank you for sharing. :-)
7x75lbs
12x40lbs

Monday, June 25, 2007

Wet Ceilings and Quads

Stayed home all morning and maintenance did not come by. I went to the office and the lady was apologetic and said she'd tell them again. So I head out about my daily business, get home late and find a note from maintenance on my door: "The people above you are showering without shower curtain. When ceiling dry we will paint."

Charming neighbors I have, no? Although I am not at all sure that maintenance knows what they're doing. Their note has a 9:00am time noted on it, which is a complete lie because I was home at 9:00am. So does that mean I can shower without endangering the ceiling, or that I need to stay out of the shower until the painting is done? Guess who's paying another visit to the management office tomorrow morning? *sigh*

Training Day III: Quads and Other Stuff

Lying Cable Rows (abwork b/w sets: lying sv)
6x35lbs
6x50lbs
7x66lbs
7x63lbs
7x60lbs
12x35lbs

Upright DB Rows (abwork b/w sets: side curls off roman chair)
6x12lbs
6x20lbs
7x25lbs
7x20lbs
7x15bs
12x12lbs

Squats (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step f/b)
6x50lbs I'm under the bar, focused, braced and just about to unrack when gym person comes by and chirps at me "Do you need a spotter?" And the first thing that comes out of my mouth is "For this?" First, what is the world coming to when people assume a woman can't handle 50lbs? And second, I'm in a power cage, the whole point of which is that I can let the supports catch the bar if it gets too heavy for me.
6x80lbs
7x100lbs
7x95lbs
7x85lbs
12x50lbs

Step Ups (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step s/s)
6x pinch gripping two 10 lbs plates (one per hand)
6x holding a 25 lbs plate
7x holding a 35 lbs plate
7x holding a 25 lbs plate
7x pinch gripping two 10 lbs plates (one per hand)
12x holding a 12 lbs db in each hand.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Random Non Fitness Thoughts

If you're looking for thought-provoking e-cards about a subject that receives little news coverage, check out the selection at Sokwanele. Have a look at their blog, too.

What kind of silly people are running Canadian schools these days? Any teacher worth her or his salt would be thrilled to have "research obsessed" students. (Contrast with playstation-obsessed, tv-obsessed, TeenV0gue-obsessed... you get the idea.)

Sunday Back Pull

The session seems to go faster than usual, maybe because I was distracted by thinking of the plumbing problems. When I got home the office had still not called me back, so I walked in there and inquired politely when they thought I might be able to take showers in my own apartment again. A side effect of having worked in complaint resolution and customer service many moons ago is that I tend to be cheery, civil and conciliatory when a normal person would be breaking furniture. The young woman apologized and said she would send a gentleman tomorrow to look at the ceiling.

Let's look at the bright side: in order to have my daily shower, I must hit the gym seven days a week.

Training Day II: Back/Pull

Lat PD to chin (abwork b/w sets: standing sv)
6x45lbs
6x75lbs
7x95lbs
7x95lbs
7x90lbs
12x45lbs

Lat PD to chest (abwork b/w sets: elbow fwd curls)
6x45lbs
6x73lbs
7x93lbs
7x85lbs
7x80lbs
12x45lbs

Bent over db rows (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step f/b)
6x15lbs
6x25lbs
3x7x30lbs Ok, I think I can move to the 35lbs db now.
12x15lbs

Seated rows (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step s/s)
6x35lbs
6x58lbs
7x75lbs
7x75lbs
7x65lbs
12x35lbs

Having done all that, I remembered that I had intended to do inverted rows. I went to the nearby bar and managed five. But, I was tired and I had no one watching my form, so I don't know if they were close to what they were supposed to look like. I put a little note to try them in a day or two, once the back rests a bit.

Gym was quiet: one woman hamstering away on a treadmill and one trainer (in proper footwear) and her shrinking client.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Plumbing

At home for most of the day on Friday, waiting for maintenance to come and fix a leaking toilet. This was their second attempt. The first attempt, which took two phone calls on my part, succeeded in making the leak bigger. Maintenance arrived just as I had used up my last towel to sop up the expanding water puddle. I was also waiting for UPS to deliver a vacuum cleaner I had ordered online. They arrived a few hours later. The reason I had to be at home is that they needed a signature, and for whatever reason, the property management office will no longer hold packages for residents. I suspect it is a combination of people not coming in promptly to pick up their stuff, someone complaining about a damaged package, and stupidity.

I am usually very happy to spend my Friday evenings on my own, but last night I actually wished I had a Shabbat dinner invitation from someone. On the other hand, I was a tired and probably would not have been mesmerizing company.

From water puddles on the floor to water dripping from the ceiling: this morning my bathroom ceiling began dripping water. I called the property management office and discovered there's no maintenance person around on Saturdays. The woman suggested I leave a message for the emergency maintenance. So I did, and at 2:30pm the gentleman called me back and told me that he'll come by "later this afternoon". It's now 8:00pm and he has yet to show up. It's possible that he was held up at another job, but a phone call with an update would have been nice. I called the number from which he had called me earlier and got a woman who said she would take my number and have him call me back. As of right now (9:01pm) nothing. So I have spent over six hours sitting at home waiting for assistance. I am not impressed with this apartment complex right now.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Flip Flops

What would possess a personal trainer to show up for work wearing flip flops? It just struck me as having no respect for your profession. First, the gym does not have a pool, second, what are you modeling to your client regarding proper gym attire, and third, you're just asking for a plate to drop on your toes.

Training

Day I: Chest/Push

Flat BP (abwork b/w sets: stomach vacs)
6x45lbs
6x75lbs
7x95lbs
7x85lbs
7x85lbs
12x45lbs

Push ups leaning against a bar (abwork b/w sets: leg lifts on bench)
6xL4
6xL1
7xLS bar resting against side supports - hard to explain, last level before floor
7xLS
7xL1
12xL4

Single arm pec deck (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step f/b)
6x30lbs
6x45lbs
7x55lbs
7x55lbs
7x50lbs
12x30lbs

Skull crushers w/ tricep bar (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step s/s)
6x22lbs
6x27lbs
7x32lbs
7x32lbs
7x27lbs
12x22lbs

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wednesday Training

Another morning session. It works well as long as I am up and about at least two hours before I get to the gym.
Training

Day IV: Hams and Other Stuff

Bicep curls (abwork b/w sets: stomach vacs)
6x17lbs
6x22lbs
3x8x27lbs Kept all three sets the same b/c I didn't want to increment by 5lbs.
12x17lbs

Lying cable curls (abwork b/w sets: leg lifts bench)
6x35lbs
6x60lbs
8x73lbs Used a 3lb db on top of the weight stack.
8x60lbs
8x60bs
12x35lbs

Deads (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step f/b)
6x60lbs
6x100lbs
8x125lbs
8x115lbs
8x115lbs
12x60lbs

Ham Curls (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step s/s)
6x35lbs
6x55lbs
3x8x70lbs Again, kept three sets the same b/c I didn't want to increment by 5lbs.
12x35lbs

Studying with my colleague again tonight. More of the book of Exodus.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tuesday Training and Her Majesty Rocks

Decided to do a morning session rather than a nighttime session, so I headed to the gym early. There were six people there, three trainers, three clients. Again, I was annoyed by some people's propensity to leave the bench inside the squat rack when done. Oh well, more GPP for me. :-) I did take food with me, and promptly forgot that I had it.

Training
Day III: Quads and Other Stuff

Lying Cable Rows (abwork b/w sets: lying sv)
6x30lbs
6x50lbs
8x63lbs I decided that 70 was too big of a jump. Also figured out where to add a db to the machine stack - on the side of one of the plates.
8x60lbs
8x60lbs
12x35lbs

Upright DB Rows (abwork b/w sets: side curls off roman chair)
6x10lbs
6x15lbs
8x20lbs
8x20lbs The gym set goes from 20 to 25 and nothing in between. I didn't want to make the jump to the pair of 25lbs dbs just yet.
8x15bs
12x10lbs

Squats (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step f/b)
6x50lbs
8x75lbs This was supposed to be six reps; I was having fun and forgot to stop.
8x95lbs
8x90lbs
8x80lbs
12x50lbs

Step Ups (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step s/s)
6x no weight
6x holding 10 lbs plate
8x holding 25 lbs plate
8x holding 25 lbs plate
8x holding 10 lbs plate
12x no weight. Losing steam by the end. Getting hungry, too.

The rest of this post is a current events rant: I like the Queen of England, and not just because she's my official head of state or because she can fix cars but because of decisions like this. And as for some countries' reaction, puhleeze, like the suicide bombers need a reason. As Hitchens put it so well back in 2005 (emphasis mine):
"We know very well what the "grievances" of the jihadists are. The grievance of seeing unveiled women. The grievance of the existence, not of the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people. The grievance of the heresy of democracy, which impedes the imposition of sharia law. The grievance of a work of fiction written by an Indian living in London. The grievance of the existence of black African Muslim farmers, who won't abandon lands in Darfur. The grievance of the existence of homosexuals. The grievance of music, and of most representational art. The grievance of the existence of Hinduism. The grievance of East Timor's liberation from Indonesian rule. All of these have been proclaimed as a licence to kill infidels or apostates, or anyone who just gets in the way.
(2nd link via Instapundit)
p.s. Perhaps Pakistan's complaining minister of religious affairs should get busy fixing this and this? (Note: links contain graphic pictures.)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Woof

Gym was pretty quiet. Two young guys, a personal trainer, her client and the client's dog. I think it was an Irish Setter, but I'm not sure. Best gym addition ever. I wish I had a dog, but I can't afford the financial outlay (pet rent, dog food, vet bills and so on). I'll think about it once I manage to leave work at a decent hour for six months straight. :-)

Training

Day II: Back/Pull

Lat PD to chin (abwork b/w sets: standing sv)
6x45lbs
6x75lbs
8x93lbs
8x90lbs
8x85lbs
12x45lbs

Lat PD to chest (abwork b/w sets: elbow fwd curls)
6x45lbs
6x70lbs
8x90lbs
8x85lbs
8x75lbs
12x45lbs

Bent over db rows (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step f/b)
6x15lbs
6x25lbs
8x30lbs
8x25lbs
8x25lbs
12x15lbs

Seated rows (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step s/s)
6x35lbs
6x55lbs
8x73lbs
8x70lbs
8x60lbs
12x35lbs

M@rla's post today reminded me that I should try inverted rows. Next time.

After the gym I headed to a local coffee shop to meet a colleague for a study session. We spent two hours on various medieval commentaries on the book of Exodus, particularly Rashi, Rashbam and Ibn Ezra.

On the music side, two artists that I heard for the first time this week (yes, I live under a rock, so?): First, via the slide show at Chaotic Fat, I learned of Jenny Owen Y0ungs. Second, via Stinn's video of his recent Winnipeg meet (two PR's, cool!) I learned of The Mars Volta.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Cleaning and Furniture

I got a lot of cleaning done; amazing how big my living room looks when it isn't cluttered. Also scrubbed the bathroom, swiffered the floors, and took the newspapers to the recycling bins which I discovered are located at local churches, synagogues and schools. My colleague changed his mind at the last minute about giving me a futon, but I did get a small desk and a coffee table. The coffee table is very sturdy and just the right height for bench dips.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Nothing Doing

Felt lethargic all day. Forced myself to go to the gym but things did not turn out as planned. I had planned a Day II: Back/Pull and started with lat pulldowns. 6x45lbs, fine, 6x75lbs felt uncommonly heavy and the planned 10x95lbs turned out to be 0x95lbs. It would not budge, which is ridiculous because 10x90lbs on Monday was smooth and easy.

I had the gym to myself, which, for a change, was not a good thing. I like having other people around. If they're more advanced, I'm motivated to compete and demonstrate that I'm a serious lifter too. And if they're less advanced, I'm motivated to set a good example. Anyhoo, since the weight - for no logical reason - was not moving, I rested for a bit and tried to start over. Nope, no such luck.

I ended up doing thirty minutes of stretching, trying to figure out what it is about my upper front left quad that's causing the pain. It reappears when I bring my knee to my chest, either standing or lying down. It also shows up when I start to sit down & back in the squat. I've changed my warm up to try and deal with it, and slowed down the movements, but I'd like to know what's causing it.

Gym One is closed tomorrow for Father's Day. I was a bit surprised when I saw the sign on the door, since I've never been in a gym that closed for Father's Day, but hey, why not. The gym owner has kids, and if he can afford to take a day off to spend it with them, more power to him. I may go to Gym Two instead, but I won't know the exact time until I talk to one of my colleagues tomorrow morning. He's moving away and has offered me some of his furniture, which he's delivering to me tomorrow.

No heavy bag work for the time being. When Gym One took down the old bag because some dingbats complained it was too hard, they replaced it with a TK0 bag. Now every time I look at it I think of this post. Yuck. I'm not saying a bag needs to be stuffed with new materials, but at least shred and sanitize whatever it is you're putting in the bag.

Getting close to midnight and I'm cleaning and organizing in expectation of the new furniture.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I'm Feeling Snide

Happy US flag day!

The above was sincere. The snide part of this post follows:

I don't read celebrity gossip, so it took a couple of days for me to hear about the silly comments made by some clothes hanger: "Today, no one is a virgin when they get married." Could she not articulate her disagreements with her church without disrespecting the chaste & celibate? In any case, you'd think that a Brazilian would be aware that at least one of her countrymen (younger, more talented and better looking than she is) was a virgin when he got married.

Thursday Training

Yeah, I know, exciting post titles...


Training

Day I: Chest/Push

Flat BP (abwork b/w sets: stomach vacs)
6x45lbs
6x70lbs
8x90lbs
8x85lbs
8x80lbs
12x45lbs

Push ups leaning against a bar (abwork b/w sets: leg lifts on bench)
6xL5
6xL2
8xL0
8xL0
8xL2
12xL5

Single arm pec deck (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step f/b)
6x25lbs
6x40lbs
10x53lbs Discovered how to make the 3lb db stay on top of the machine's weight stack.
10x50lbs
10x43lbs
12x25lbs

Skull crushers (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step s/s)
6x22lbs
6x22lbs
8x27lbs
8x27lbs
8x27lbs
12x22lbs

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wednesday Training

I lost track of time while working at home this morning, so when I got to the gym it was busier than I am used to. Still, got through everything, and was reasonably happy with how everything went.

Training

Day IV: Hams and Other Stuff

Bicep curls (abwork b/w sets: stomach vacs)
6x8lbs (dbs)
6x17lbs (E-Z bar)
10x22lbs
10x27lbs
10x22lbs
12x8lbs (dbs)

Lying cable curls (abwork b/w sets: leg lifts bench)
6x30lbs
6x50lbs
10x70lbs
10x60lbs Above 50lbs, the silly machine only has 10lb increments.
10x60bs
12x35lbs

Deads (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step f/b)
6x60lbs
6x95lbs
10x120lbs Fortuitous song on the shuffle: I Will Survive
10x115lbs Fortuitous song on the shuffle: The Bitch is Back
10x105lbs
12x60lbs

Reverse hypers on a Swiss ball (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step s/s)
6,6,10,10,10,12
These were supposed to be ham curls, but an older gentleman was superglued to the ham curl machine, and I didn't want to suggest that perhaps he should spend his rest periods vertically rather than horizontally.

The good: remembered to bring flipflops for shower.
The bad: forgot to bring post workout food. But, this gave me a reason to stop at Wild Oats.
The ugly: people who do not remove the bench from the cage when they finish benching. I'd understand if the gym had multiple cages/racks, but there's only one.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Interesting Reading

Over at Asymetrical Information there are thoughts, questions and comments about fat and thin.

Tuesday Training

The goal for today was to get through everything, however long it took. It took close to two hours, because I was trying different weights trying to figure out how far to push. A nice group of people in the gym today, including red bandanna guy, and a kid who went out in the parking lot in the sweltering heat and did what looked like football drills. There's hope for the next generation. :-)

Training

Day III: Quads and Other Stuff

Lying Cable Rows (abwork b/w sets: lying sv)
6x25lbs
6x40lbs
10x55lbs
10x60lbs Easy. Will try 70lbs next time.
10x60lbs
12x35lbs

Upright DB Rows (abwork b/w sets: side curls off roman chair - ow)
6x8lbs
6x12lbs
10x15lbs
10x20lbs I wanted a pair of 17.5 dbs, but the gym doesn't have them.
10x15bs
12x10lbs

Squats (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step f/b)
6x50lbs
6x70lbs Felt a sharp twinge at the top of my left thigh. Stopped and stretched again and it went away. But I lost my concentration.
10x90lbs
10x75lbs
10x70lbs Got my concentration back. Smooth and controlled on ascent and descent.
12x50lbs

Step Ups (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step s/s)
6x no weight Still wiped out from the squats+cardio minutes.
6x no weight
10x holding 10lbs plate
10x 10lbs Here it dawns on me that 10lbs was too light.
10x 25lbs
12x 10lbs Counted these out loud - twelve left, twelve right. Did the last cardio minute and floated to my car on endorphins.

The good: remembered to bring post workout food.
The bad: forgot to bring flipflops for shower.
The ugly: the max squat set, which is why I dropped the weight sharply to get my form back.

Looking forward to deads tomorrow.

Talking to Myself

Q: So, self, when did you make the most progress in your strength and fitness?
A: When I was training hard in the gym and letting my anticipation of the training drive my food choices.

Q: So why are you suddenly tracking food and being pedantic about grams and kcals?
A: Because I'm going to visit my old gym in a month and I am stressed about walking in there weaker than when I left. This is known as "clutching at straws".

Q: Ok, so don't go back. Skulk around Jerusalem for a month while avoiding the gym. Duck behind a tree if you see anyone from the gym.
A: Are you &%$&*#@ kidding me? I love that gym.

Q: Well then, perhaps more focus on training and less on nutrition labels?
A: I hate it when you're right.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Today So Far

Picked up the laptop this morning ahead of schedule.

Packed away my winter clothes yesterday and this morning and re-organized the closet for summer. With some luck, when I open the boxes in September everything will be too loose around the hips and too tight around the biceps. :-)

Training

Day II: Back

Lat PD to chin (abwork b/w sets: standing sv)
6x45lbs
6x70lbs
10x90lbs
10x85lbs
10x80lbs
12x45lbs

Lat PD to chest (abwork b/w sets: elbow fwd curls)
6x45lbs
6x70lbs
10x88lbs
10x80lbs
10x70lbs
12x45lbs

Bent over db rows (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step f/b)
6x10lbs
6x20lbs
10x30lbs
10x25lbs
10x20lbs
12x12lbs

Seated rows (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step s/s)
6x35lbs
6x55lbs
10x70lbs
10x60lbs
10x50lbs
12x35lbs

Food tracking is taking too long to type. All clean so far today. H2O is good too; I'm at 3L for the day thus far, one of which I drank during the above session. Remembered to bring PWN also.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Downtown Morning

Woke up to thunder and rain and headed downtown to drop my laptop off for repairs. Blogging may be intermittent until I get it back. In the meantime, meals 1 & 2 are done and on track. I remembered to take my camera with me today: did you know that Kansas City has more fountains than Rome? Here's an example, and I am blogging this from the Scooters at the Plaza.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

No Blogging Without Tracking

So this title doesn't have the same oomph as "no taxation without representation", but I decided that I need to put numbers on the screen.

I headed to Gym One this morning after a playing whack-a-mole with the negative thoughts and dumb-ass excuses in my head. Finally got everything together, including, for the first time, post-workout nutrition in a little cooler; makes a world of difference not dithering for 30+ minutes post exercise to get food in. I had the place to myself for most of the session. After the last person left I turned down the silly music that was competing with my shuffle.

Training

Day I: Chest/Push

Flat BP (abwork b/w sets: stomach vacs)
6x45lbs
6x70lbs
10x85lbs
10x80lbs
10x75lbs
12x45lbs

Push ups leaning against a bar (abwork b/w sets: leg lifts on bench)
6xL6
6xL4
10xL3
10xL4
10xL4
12xL6

Single arm pec deck (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step f/b)
6x25lbs
6x40lbs
10x50lbs
10x45lbs
10x40lbs
12x25lbs

Skull crushers (cardio b/w sets: 1 min step s/s)
6,6,10,10,10,12
All sets done w/ empty tricep bar, which is 22 lbs.

Food

M1: 38g whole wheat pancake mix, 1 omega3 egg + 1 egg white, 1/2 c skim milk, coffee, 1/2 tbsp maple syrup. 18p 40c 6f
M2: 1 scoop protein powder, 1 frozen banana, 1 c rice milk LF vanilla, 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder. 26p 48c 5f
M3: 85g mixed greens, 75g apple, 1 can H2O packed tuna, 1 tbsp dressing, 1 tbsp spicy mustard, 1/2 c skim milk in coffee. Easily the highest volume meal of the day. That was a lot of greens. 44p 24c 2f
M4: 60g turkey breast, 1 slice rye bread, 165g green pepper, 75g apple, 1 square halva. 26p 41c 8f
M5: 32g cereal, 113g 0% plain yogurt, 113g 1% cottage cheese. 26p, 40c, 2f

Total: 1526kcal, 138p, 193c, 23f. Need more fat and less carbs. I also want the calories a bit higher, around 1800. Adding a sixth meal tomorrow will take care of that. I got a late start today. It will take a few days to sort things out: I want to finish some things that I have in the fridge & freezer before I do another grocery trip.
H20: Forgot to track, but at least 3 litres; I kept refilling the bottle.
Outside food purchased: none
Cravings: none

Sleeves & MMA

This is going to be a sleeveless summer. By this I mean that unless I am somewhere where it would be uncomfortable - religious services or the gym, for example - I am going to wear a tank top. Sleeve tan lines annoy me, and I want to see my arms, to remind myself that this backsliding into non-definition will not do. I'm not crazy about the current styles in women's tanks, so most of my tanks come from the boys' department, like this or this. Cheaper and sturdier, too.

The July 7 UFC card will be the last one I see before leaving for the workshop in Israel. I hate to say this, but I hope the main fights end somewhat faster than expected. The fight I am most interested in - Bocek vs. Edgar - isn't scheduled for broadcast, and the only way it will air is if there's time left at the end of the card.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Not Sleeping

I haven't fallen asleep at a decent hour since I came back from Boston. It's a one hour time difference, so it's not as if I can claim jetlag. It is now 0351 on Friday morning and I am still awake. I've set the alarms (yes, plural) for 0600 and hope they suffice, because this non-sleeping thing is not helping. I've been tired all week and haven't been to either Gym One or Gym Two since Tuesday. How pathetic can my excuses get? The sensible thing would be to just stay up till 0500, go to Gym One when it opens, and then come back home and sleep.

Updated 3:50pm:
Woke up late, ate, drank a litre of H20, trained. All is right with the world.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

TPS EFS Seminar: Part V

A bit of reflection on the afternoon technique session: We split up into three groups, with one group at the cage, one at the collegiate rack and one at the monolift. One group had MK, one JW and one MB, and DT floated from one to the other. I started at MK's group. We looked at squats first, then bench. At first I thought either the groups or the leaders would rotate, but it didn't work out that way, so people began moving between groups. I had hoped to take more pictures during this part, but there wasn't enough light to do so without a flash, and you can't go around shining bright lights at people when they're trying to lift.

I volunteered to go first for logistical reasons: I wanted to get my question out of the way before they added weight to the bar. MK looked at me squatting with the empty bar and then with 95 lbs. I was really annoyed at myself because, had this been right after I left Jerusalem, I could have used 135lb with no problems. I was falling forward a bit, and MK ask me if I am keeping my weight in the middle of my feet. I never thought about it this way before; just lifted my toes instead. I learned a lot watching the other guys squat, also. Some of them I could tell what was wrong, but others were a revelation. Often it was minor adjustments that were necessary, but it takes someone who knows what they're doing to see the minor adjustments.

After squats MK looked at my bench and pointed out some issues with my elbow position. I realized that to get my elbow position correct I need to pretend I'm doing a close grip bench but with a wide grip. Doesn't make much sense when I write it, but makes perfect sense when I'm horizontal. I haven't lost what I learned in Jerusalem, thank god. While the other guys were having their bench looked at, I moved to JW's group, which was right next to mine.

JW looked at my bench and noticed that I had a dead spot just above my chest, where the bar sort of floats before I push it up. Aha! On the rare times I got stuck in training, it was just above the chest, so I guess I am still anticipating getting stuck even if it is a weight I can do in my sleep (empty bar). It was fascinating watching the other attendees, some of whom hadn't used a PL set up on their bench before. It is not a comfortable position. :-) MK's delivery is more low-key, and JW's is more interactive. The latter was getting other people to pay attention and pick out the mistakes that the person on the bench was making, if any.

There was good discussion in both groups. I asked JW about working with high schoolers and he gave me good ideas as well as book and dvd suggestions. I lost track of time and didn't get to join MB's group and have my deadlift analyzed. I also wanted to ask MB about kettlebells. I know my technique on the dead is more solid than that of my squat and bench, and I am going to visit my old gym soon, but it was still a squandered opportunity. As people were starting to leave, I asked MB about the hook grip and he graciously showed me how it should be done. Apparently my fingers are long enough. :-) He also said it will be painful.

The seminar was supposed to start at 8:30 and end at 5:00. It actually began at 9:15 and ended at 6 or so, with lunch going a bit overtime. So while we certainly didn't lose any time - and JW was very clear about asking each of us if we had additional questions before he wrapped up his session - the late start was an unnecessary stress factor. I'd arrived at 8:15, so I was feeling ornery about my missing 45 minutes of sleep.) Overall, learned a lot, and the only other thing I'd adjust would be to have a formal rotation of the presenters or the groups so that each person has at least two presenters looking at each of his or her lifts. My initial thought is to have three groups, DL, SQ and BP, and people and presenters swap at regular intervals, but I haven't given it enough thought.

Last thoughts: totally worth it. I needed to be around serious people again, and a face to face meeting has a lot more impact than an online exchange. I'm going to budget for another seminar this year, and if if it is at TPS, bring my gloves and schedule some time for a workout at the gym the next day. I'd also write down my questions in advance.

TPS EFS Seminar: Part IV

One last set of quotes, with my notes in italics. Please remember that I was writing these down during a free flowing discussion, and these snippets can't possibly convey everything. Use them as springboards to further learning. Better yet, get off the internet and go lift something...

Tate Quotes

- "Supposedly, you have to do interval training to lose weight. Meanwhile, every bodybuilder I know who's under 5% does not do interval training."
"I'm going to sell products instead of programs. Programs are BS, products people can use."
- "Get ideas, not solutions. You never want solutions, only ideas. The solutions lie in yourself." I glean useful info from various places, but it's my responsibility to choose what to adopt and what to discard.

The next two quotes were about the purpose of tracking. I've tracked all my training session, including my feeble forays into exercise back in 2001. The most useful for me, obviously, are the Jerusalem logs.
- "What are your indicators? What are you using to track where you're going? What really drives your bench?"
- "What you'll forget to do is what you suck at."

On training your weak points:
- "If you're not in the top 50 in PLUSA, weak point training is not an issue. You don't have weak points, you're weak."

On adding things to your program:
- "Believe it's gonna work or don't put it in there."

In response to a guy who asked what a skinny weak guy should do:
- "The biggest problem is how you worded the question. You said a skinny weak guy, you should've said an aspiring lifter."

- "Ernie Frantz said it a long time ago: treat the heavy weights like they're light and the light weights like they're heavy." This was in response to a question about injuries, and I like it because it is exactly the attitude of the gym in Jerusalem. Your form had better be perfect on the light weights, and you don't let the heavy weights psych you out.

- "Your body doesn't know the difference between overtraining and mental stress.

- "If you break a record, then take a second attempt and it's easy, go home. Don't fuck it up."

- "If you're trying to gain weight, weigh yourself at night. If you're trying to lose weight, weigh yourself in the morning."

Someone asked what you do to prepare yourself the day of the meet. The response was a glare and then,
- "The 12 weeks preparing for a meet." Yup, if you didn't put in the prep, don't expect the last day to make any difference.

"Get blood work every six months. If you're going to push for the extremes, take responsibility, at least."

- "There's nothing worse than a deadlift. It's what you did before you went to eat." Me, I love deads, but I liked this description all the same.

"I gotta be in the weight room, that's all there is to it." Amen.

"This shit ain't easy." Wouldn't be half as much fun if it was.

Lastly, a quote from a gentleman named Vinny who was visiting from Southside Gym in Connecticut:
- “I'm big enough that the protein isn't as important as the carbs.” I can't find an e-mail to ask him for permission to post a picture, but trust me, he's got every right to say this.

Monday, June 04, 2007

TPS EFS Seminar: Part III

Ignore the date imprint, my mistake. Pic is B&W because I thought that looked more old school. :-) Yes, I asked if it was ok to post. L to R: Bartley, Tate, Kroczaleski, Wendler.



More morning session quotes below. My notes are in italics.

As the discussion turned to beginners vs. advanced lifters:
JW: “Marc and Matt, as advanced lifters, they're not going to get a lot stronger.”
MB (quietly): “Don't like you.”

Bartley Quotes

- "I'd give up every 1000 lb squat I ever had for an 800 lb pull." Whoa, just hearing that hurt.

- "I'm the opposite of him [MK]; I'm Mr. Anti-Volume."

- "What's the difference between a lift and an exercise? An exercise supplements your lift." MB gave credit to Pavel T. for this idea.

- "Look for patterns that work."

- "99% of your effort will be futile. 99% of what you do will be futile. The 1%, that's what you try for, every single time." I LOVE this line. It's perseverance in a nutshell.

- "Pour your efforts into the first couple of exercises."

- "Develop the skill first."

- On psyching up for a lift at a meet: "Screaming and yelling, doing stupid shit means you miss the little things."

- On troubleshooting squats: "[They’re] Doing too much shit, overtraining, 3-4 weeks out still doing max squats. It can take a solid month to recover from a max squat."

Wendler Quotes

- "I'm very happy that we never had the fucking internet; we had to fucking think. […] Just lift for 10-12 years, then start reading about shit." Ouch. I've learned a lot online, but sometimes I really need to shut off the computer and hit the weights. Like (ahem) now.

- When X benches, his ears bench the weight, his toes bench the weight; everything is working. I love this line also. I'm adding this to my verbal cues: are my ears involved? are my toes involved? If not, I need to concentrate harder.

- "You make your greatest gains in the first few years, then hit a stale point. Hi volume hi intensity, that shit does not work the 2nd time around."

- "Training is about weird experiments, and sometimes they blow up in your face."

- "The best training program gets the best result with the least amount of effort." JW gave credit to this book cover for this idea.

- "Go with weights you know you can get. I'm only going to train to crush my opener. For 1000, train for 16 weeks to make 850 the easiest weight in the world."

- "Train what is trainable." This referred to coming back from an injury.

- "You're 165lbs with abs, who cares? Get abs at 235lbs." :-) I’m not sure if this was a JW or DT quote since both of them weighed in on the subject of scrawny guys with abs. There are at least two underlying ideas: first, the nutrition side is easy, it's the busting your ass in the gym that's hard. Second, if you're going to give people advice, you need to be an example. You can't be benching 225lbs and expect a 600lbs bencher to take your advice.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A Sunday in Boston


Met a friend for brunch followed by a stroll through Harvard Yard where I took the above picture. Finished with an afternoon at the Museum of Natural History before making my way back to the hotel.

TPS EFS Seminar: Part II

As noted below, the first part of the seminar was an informal Q&A. To get the most out of this set-up, you (the seminar attendee) have to actually open your mouth and ask a question. I asked two; one about leaving an amazing training environment and preparing to work alone, and one about squat depth. If I attend this format again I'll write my questions a day before. Strangely enough, several people asked no questions, but just sat and listened. Not sure why anyone would just sit there and not ask questions, unless all their questions were being answered as the discussion flowed. I was scribbling notes throughout and I'm sure I didn't get everything down.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the morning session, chosen because they made me think or struck me as particularly relevant to my situation. I didn't tape anything, just wrote them down as I heard them, so any misquotes are my fault. I'm going to start with Kroczaleski quotes. The bolded ones are the ones that resonated with me the most.

On training
- "Be self-critical: where am I weak? what mistakes am I making?"
- "Every day you step in the gym should be the best you've ever had."
- "If you're going to coast through, why do it?"
- "Training doesn't take that much time."
- "When you try something new, try it for eight weeks, really hard.
On meets
- "If you haven't done one, get in there."
- "Your opener doesn't mean shit. It's something you should be able to do sick or dead."
- "Don't think about what your competitors are doing until the 2nd deadlift."
On comparisons:
- "Numbers don't mean nuthin'; it's just weight."
- "Right now you're stronger than some people and weaker than others. So am I."**
**I heard some guys gasp when he said this. Recall that this man has squatted 970, benched 661 and deadlifted 783 for a 2414 total in the 220 weight class. To quote G.K.Chesterton: "It is always the secure who are humble."

On deloading
- "If you deload and you get stronger, then you're doing it right. If you deload and you get weaker then you're lazy."

On injuries and coming back
- "Competitive athletics is not healthy."
- "90% of the people docs deal with are lazy couch potatoes."

More quotes tomorrow. I've typed everything, it's my html fiddling that's holding things up.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

TPS EFS Seminar: Part I

As I told the friendly people (David, Susan and Laura) at the desk of Total Performance Sports this morning, their gym is like Narnia; its inside is bigger than its outside. This is the unassuming outside:

They just moved to this new building, hence the sign. Their grand opening is June 9th. The mild-mannered exterior hides an interior with many delightful things.

Start with a weightroom with multiple racks (including a monolift);


dumbbells galore;


tires for flipping;


upstairs, a room with mats for classes and a boxing ring:


heavy bags;


and boxing equipment;


Who could ask for anything more?

Now, add in four presenters - Tate, Wendler, Bartley and Kroczaleski - with a gazilion years of training experience and a straight-shooting no-BS delivery, and you have a seminar that is worth the flight from Kansas.

The seminar had two parts. The morning session, which ran from 0900-lunch was a free-for-all Q&A. The quartet up front and a bunch of lifters scattered on the floor, on machines and on benches, asking questions. Three women including me. The afternoon session, from after lunch to 5:40ish, was devoted to technique work on the racks. More about both parts tomorrow. I learned a lot and it was so nice to be around people who take lifting seriously. This is probably the best birthday present I ever bought for me.