Friday, October 31, 2008

spooky stuff.

Insert obligatory Halloween well wishing here.
I'm tired and not particularly creative.
I do like Halloween though. The dark and macabre side of our existence lose their power if we embrace them. Turn fear into fun, and confront the fact that we're all going to die.. so maybe if being (un)dead is a big costume party.. it won't be so bad.
What's not to like?

Last night we were doing some network cut-overs at work. So I was here late. Fortunately we have a gym on site, and I was able to work, train, eat, and go back to work.

last night's training:
loads of single leg work
3x5/5 of 3 exercises
reverse lunges at 2x50 dumbbells
1 leg deads at 2x50

pull ups various grips
30 total reps at bw

5x2 at 2xmm band+155
ton of tension here.
I need to get faster.

face pulls:
20 at 40,60,80,80

tabata jump rope sprints.
4 minutes


Thursday, October 30, 2008


Back was really bugging me last night. Got warmed up. Went to class. Started rolling a bit, went to sit up, and immediately couldn't breathe from the pain. From there all I could do was watch class, and learn the technique. I couldn't to do anything more.
Today in the gym will be lots of single leg work, and some conditioning.
Tomorrow will be short intervals.
hopefully by Saturday I'll be healed up.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Whole lotta tired.

Monday was a long day at jiu-jitsu. I had a private session before class, worked on controlling half guard from the bottom, then rolled with the professor for about 20 minutes. He is on a whole different stratosphere. He has complete control without being in a dominant position. He baits you into creating space, or giving up your base with little openings.. or at least what LOOK like openings. I learned a lot about patience from that roll.
From there was normal class. Worked on escaping mount and some technical aspects of the point system for the guys who are competing in the tournament coming up. I had a full match with one of the guys who is competing. I took him lightly on the feet, and of course he took me down and passed. I spent several minutes undoing the damage done there. Swept, passed, mounted and cinched up an Americana but with no time left, I got sloppy and didn't get the sub. Lost by two points.
Three points in the match where I could have changed the outcome:
1) on the feet. Should have been more aggressive from the get go.
2) Once he got the take down, I should have controlled his sleeve, and kept him from passing
3) Should have been cleaner on the Americana, kept my elbow at his ear, and cinched it up. Alternately, I should have switched to an arm-bar once I knew that that Americana was going to be sloppy.
Live an learn. After that I was toast, called it a night.

Last night in the gym: SI joint on the right side has been bothering me again, so I decided to keep it simple on the lower body work.
worked up to 2 singles at 455
1 @ 405

Chins (various grips):
4x3 at bw + 35
5 at bw

Bench (speed w MM band):
6x2 at 185

Bent rows (curl bar):
5x5 @ 165
I like the curl bar because the angled grip allows you get a greater range of motion, even if it is sort of bodybuildery.

Curls (for the girls):
I don't want to hear it.
worked up to 5 at 80
(NOT done in the squat rack)

Interval work:
Ergometer (rowing machine)
8x30 sec on 1 min off
Slowest split: 1:36
Fastest split: 1.31
These are kind of sorry for this short of interval.. but I've gotta start somewhere.
Still feeling kind of beat up and sore today. I think I'm just going to do some restoration work, and go to jiu-jitsu class tonight.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Friday's conditioning workout was all about ladders:
alternating exercises, ladders 1-10.

pull up

full rest

renegade rows (35)
kb clean and press (44) each arm

full rest

two ball wall ball

Jitz, worked on knee on belly positon, then open mat.

Saturday afternoon gym workout:
speed deads 6 singles at 365 + purple bands
face pulls and stretching.

Thoughts on UFC 90 later this week.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Doing what I need to do more.

If you suck at something, it means you need to do it more.
-people.. smart people

last night was all about cleaning up my weak points:


Jump squats:
5x3 haven't done these in a while. I need to get more explosive.

Reverse lunges off a 6" box:
5x3/3 at 135
Man do I suck at these. My single leg strength is terrible. My feet hate lunging. I have a history of plantar fasciitis and turf toe on both feet. It's better since I've stopped spending 8-10 hours a week in cleats, and started wearing less supportive footwear, but my toes hate lunges. Still, got to take your medicine.

Pull ups:
6x5 @ bw

Overhead rack lockouts from just over head:
worked up to 3@ 185
then 5x1
Haven't done any heavy overhead pressing in... 4 years or so since my rotator cuff repair. So I wanted to feel this out a bit, see how my shoulder responded. Which, I'm glad to say is fine. So there will be more of this.

standing cable rows:
4x8 @ stack+10

bb curls:
3x5 @ 60
After Tony and Brian from CP took me to the gun show last week I have begrudingly decided that I need to add some direct biceps work to help my vertical pulling strength. I am such a tool.

Tabata sprints on the ergometer:
8x 20 on 10 off.

lay on the floor and pant:
1x5 min

As I was leaving the top floor (ergometers, step-mills, aerobics and ladies lingere) a gym staffer was headed down the stairs behind me. I jokingly said "I can stop and you can go around me, or bear with me, but I ain't goin' any faster." She laughed, and asked "What were you doing?"
"Tabata intervals on the ergometer." I replied
She blinked. "huh."
"Japanese exercise scientists discovered that you can train the aerobic and anaerobic pathways at the same time if you do 20 seconds of work at 170% of VO2 max followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated 8 times."
Blink... "well it seems to be working for you."
"Uh.. Thanks? I gotta go."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"It's fur meh Mah."

-Brad Pitt in 'Snatch'
Over the years your mom nagged you over and over to do a handful of things. When it comes to taking care of your physique, health and happiness, in most cases the stuff your momma was harping on was right (we’ll let that “clean your plate” stuff slide, because hey, it’s mom cut her some slack). She just needs to be given the correct context.
5 things your mom harped on that will help you meet your athletic/physique goals.

1) Eat your veggies. That’s right, eat your veggies.. and your little brother’s too if you can get your hands on them. Anti-oxidants and phytochemicals that are the difference between performance and optimum performance, not to mention volume and fiber that will keep you full far longer than anything else per calorie, are particularly abundant in our little photosynthetic friends. While these chemicals have been extracted, processed and put into pills, that never seems as effective as the whole food. There is a hierarchy of nutrition: whole natural foods are ideal, supplements +whole foods are ok, supplements on there own work in an emergency and are better than not getting the nutrition at all.. so Eat Your Vegetables!

2) Bedtime! Plentiful and regular sleep is key for athletic performance, and yet every one of us gets sucked into watching 3’s company, or reading just one more chapter of a book, or looking for pictures of Alan Alda on the web, or whatever and end up fried for the rest of the week. It happens, I may be the worst offender in the history of bedtime.. but mom was right: when it’s bedtime.. It’s time for bed. Getting enough sleep increases your body’s ability to fight CNS fatigue, promotes insulin sensitivity, and promotes the release of growth hormone. Not to mention that not sleeping makes you a cranky bastard that no one wants to hang around.

3) Go outside and play. I’m a gym rat. Those who read this blog with any regularity know it.. and you are probably gym rats too. We really should go outside more. Drag a sled, flip a tire, push a car, take your kettlebells to the park. Get some sun and fresh air. Your body will appreciate the vitamin D and different training stimulus and your mind will appreciate the change of scenery. Speaking of which after reading about it I’m a big fan of taking vitamin D supplements, but I always prefer to get nutrients old fashioned way if possible.. So go play outside from time to time, and eat your vegetables!

4) No dessert until you eat your vegetables. I know I keep harping on the vegetable thing. What can I say we’re talking about mom's nagging, right? The point here is one that John Berardi has made several times, and it’s a good one. If you’re going to eat junk from time to time (and I love me some junk) make sure it doesn’t displace nutritious food. Get the good stuff in, and you’ll have a smaller splurge, and still get the good stuff in. The same goes for your training. A lot of folks who are good at.. oh..I don’t know.. bench press, head straight to the bench first and foremost. They spend 20 minutes benching, then the rest of their time wandering around doing some rows, and curls, and all of the sudden “oh noes I can’t squat because I’m out of time.” Go in, warm-up and head straight to what you suck at, you’ll find time to bench.

5) Sit up straight. If your posture is crap, then you are not in shape. If you posture is crap you cannot apply maximal force to a barbell/opponent/boulder/whatever. If you have bad posture, you are injured, you just don’t know it yet. If you have postural issues check out the Neanderthal No more series over at T-nation, and straighten up.

That’s it, the wisdom of mom. You always kinda knew she was right you just need the right context. So follow her advice and eat your vegetables and grow big and strong.


My fall vacation posts took a bit of time so here's the workouts from the past week.
Jitz. We worked on a funky guard pass where you flip the guy over and then take his back.

Deads from a 4" advantage.
worked up to a single at 515. He-YOU-ge PR. Now if I could only pull this from the floor.

5 sets of 3@+20/2@bw
Trapped a dumbell between my feet, do as many chins as I can, then drop the weight and do 2 more.

CS rows:
worked up to 4 @ 4 plates

Hand bike:
90 sec @ 210 watts
90 sec @ 220 watts
1 min @ 240 watts
1 min @ 250 watts
full rest between sets.

Wednesday morn:
complexes with 90 lbs
5 ea:

Wednesday evening:
Jitz: I was a little late, but still got the instruction part of class. Worked on arm bars, and arm bar defenses. Then some positional stuff. Then we rolled. I hit an armbar and my training partner couldn't tap because his hand was caught up, and he didn't remember just to say 'tap.' So he tweaked his elbow pretty good. I feel bad about it, but it's happened to me before. I finished class with two more sparring sessions, and talked wrestling with a couple of folks.
Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dear diary, I did some cool stuff on vacation...

Last Thursday, I got up fairly early (considering the 3 hour lag that is) packed my stuff up, and headed out to Hudson, MA and Cressey performance training. I left at about 10. I didn't need to be there till 2, but it was a 45 min drive, so I figured: I'll find it, then go to a Starbucks and sit and work on some stuff.. maybe watch a movie on my computer and just relax.
Well.. my directions had a wrong turn on them, so what should have taken 45 min took over two hours. Thanks Google maps, while you’re at it why don’t you kick me in the junk while shaving my cat and stealing my lunch money.
I still got to town with enough time to stop and get a sandwich and relax.
I got to CP, and sort of wandered in.
“Hi, I’m some toolbox from the internet. Please let me interrupt your work day and ask a lot of questions.”
CP is a big open area, with a Astroturf track along the back wall, squat racks along the front, and various benches and stuff in between.
I met everyone. The guys were very welcoming and each shook my hand and chatted for a minute before getting back to work. I sort of felt like a poser, but the more I thought about it: I made no claims to be anything but some tool, so at least I have the power of low expectations working for me.
I quickly did my best to blend in, and started watching the athletes and staff as unobtrusively as possible.

Each athlete has a clip board on a wall outside the office. On it they have their training plan for the month. Each kid grabs their clip board and heads to the warm-up area. In the warm-up area there is a white board with a sequence of movements/foam rolling/ect. When they've completed the warm-up, they go to back wall and do explosive movements (box jumps, med ball throws, sprints, etc). After that they lift.
Squats/deads, pulling vertical/horizontal, then either bench or resisted push ups are the general order of the day. The folks who need to drop a few lbs do some "post-work" which is sled pushing or heavy thingy flipping, or sprinting. From there, eat something and go home. At any given time there are 5-15 athletes on the floor, and 3 coaches and two interns who walk around compliment and correct as needed. The more experienced athletes help the less. Everyone values technique, and work.
It is an ideal environment to train. Some of the smartest guys in the industry working literally with every athlete, all of the basic tools to get strong, and enough ‘toys’ to keep things entertaining. Great prehab/injury prevention planning and copious amounts of attitude.

My take aways from that visit:
1) Eat more often. Tony and the guys must have eaten 3 times in the 4 hours I was there. That may be too much for me (I'm not exactly a skinny dude by nature, but I need to be eating more meals)
1a) Eat more vegetables. I eat a lot of vegetables, but not enough, neither do you.. yes you!

2) More energy systems work, and explosive work. I'm not a power lifter, I don't need to compartmentalize my energy systems work as much as I do. I have really been trying to push my deadlift up, now that the 5 bill dead is on the horizon, it’s time to work on my ability to move on the mat. That means lighter and more explosive (while keeping my limit strength up).

3) Resisted push-ups can be damn hard, and are better for athletes than benching. It's a more natural movement and forces you to stabilize the weight, and control your body.
3a) chain resisted push-ups are better than band. They feel more natural.

4) Attitude is vitally important. It is easier to have a good attitude in the right environment, but your attitude exists within you. Get your mind right and the rest will follow.

5)The secret is, there is no secret.
Warm-up, lift heavy things and do explosive movements, eat something, go home, rest, repeat. None of the exercises I saw there from the pros to the 8th graders was terribly different from any other performance training center I’ve been to, just precisely executed and full bore. There are a couple of things they do to prevent injuries with the pitchers that were unique, but that's it. The rest is hard work and attitude. That attitude starts at the top.
I have been to training centers in the Midwest where all of the athletes are trained by interns, the guy whose name is on the door meets with the athlete once, and never again. Interns can be great, but if it’s your business you should care enough to make sure the athletes are getting the results. At Cressey Performance, they do.
All in all a great experience.
While I was there I was given the opportunity to get a lift in.

My workout:
Worked up to a single at 485.. just missed it.
Weight came off the floor and torqued counterclockwise away from me.
By the time I got it back under control I didn’t have enough gas to finish the lift.. it happens.
Backed off to 455 hit a single.
My hips were not happy about all of the sitting that morning, and the day before so I called it good from there.

Chins sets of 5 at bw+15 dead hang, no kip.

Push-ups worked up to 2x6 at 4 chains.

1a rows sets of 5 at 90

They have a thingy.. rubber matting rolled up to about a 3 ft diameter, then taped shut.
It's heavy.
5 sets of 10 thingy flips.
These were brutal.. and fun.. but brutal.

From there I had to go pick up my buddy Wayne at MIT. So I had to bail pretty quick.
Many thanks to the staff and athletes at CP for putting up with me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Putting the 'And' in New England.

Before I get into the spiffy specifics of my trip to Boston I want to give my impressions of New England. It's a strange place, New England in the fall. It is both very similar to the Ozark hills where I grew up, and completely foreign. The hills, the cool weather and colorful leaves remind me of autumn in Missouri. While the climate and foliage are the same, the land is different. The Ozarks are sharp granite points that once pierced the smooth belly of America. They are now worn dull by the passage of time, but there are still gray faces of rock cliffs peering out, overlooking the hollows, and creeks. It is a severe landscape. New England is round and curvy hills. They roll and undulate. The land is soft and round, it flows.
The homes and picket fences make sense there. Broad, proud farm houses, pushed a little closer together. White fences mark out what's left of the land belonging to each one. The white houses against the red and yellow backdrop look comfortable and inviting. These houses always looked strange to me in the plains of Missouri and Illinois. Wide expanses dotted with these stylized homes and white fences against the blue sky, shouldering the brunt of the prairie winds look out of sorts and out of place. The prairies need low sleek buildings, hunkered down out of the elements, not quaint cottages lined up in uniform rows. Here the houses sit in little crooks and corners, the roads undulate with the hills, flowing with the landscape. Back home the roads are either deep gashes in the plains, or hang awkwardly peering over the edges of the cliffs and valleys.
Washington state is truly the "Evergreen State." We have leaves that change, but they are scarce and far between. Not enough to generate that heady scent of fall. It rains too much, the leaves drop and rot too quickly, they don't crunch under foot. In New England as back home, it's different. I could smell Autumn. I was struck by the similarities to the fall afternoons from my boyhood. When I was hiking along a trail in Concord, crunching quietly on the brown leaf litter, hoping to see some sort of wild critter. The squirrels had no such compunction. They thrash and crash about more like X-gamers on crystal meth than small prey items. I tried to fill them in, told them to keep it down lest they got et, they didn't seem concerned.
In Seattle we sit on about a 150 year time line. Old buildings are 1940s cape cod houses, or brick buildings down town for selling and receiving goods from or headed out the port. In St.Louis we have about another 100 years. Pierre Lacl├Ęde landed almost exactly 250 years ago, and there are a hand full of historical buildings that date back nearly that far. Compare that to where we stayed in Concord, which has several buildings dating back to the revolutionary war in one small town. The town itself was incorporated in 1635. I walked the battle field of the first skirmish of the revolutionary war. I saw Emerson's home, and Walden pond is not far off. There is a sense of age, of time, of near permanence that I have never really experienced to that degree. The locals seem unconcerned.
My flight heading back to Seattle left at 6 a.m. That meant I had to be up at 4 (1 a.m. Seattle time)I stood outside and waited for those traveling with me to get out of the house, I sat on my luggage in the foggy quiet. I looked at the moon, hazy and sullen, scarred by leafless trees. It felt like a good ghost story unread. I don't doubt these were the types of moments that inspired Washinton Irving and others. I just sat in the spooky pre-dawn, until the stillness was broken by my companions.
"time to go."
And it was.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Back from Boston.

I'm back from Boston. I had a great trip, so much so that it'll take me a week of blog posts to fill you guys in. The rundown is I flew in late, saw my good friend Wayne and His wife for a bit. Thursday I went out to Hudson, Mass to visit Cressey Performance, I asked a lot of questions, and was able to witness a group of coaches and athletes working at the top of their game. Friday I got up at the sparrow's fart to pick up the wife at the airport, and spent most of the day either cooking for the wife's crew or walking through the New England woods. Saturday was spent at the race course, and today I was in transit all day. More on all of that later this week. Right now I'm glad to be home.
Many thanks to those who hosted me in their homes or business this past week.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Shippin' off to Boston.

Blogging will be sporadic for the next few. I'm headed off to Boston to watch the wife race at the Head of the Charles, to check out Cressey Performance, and hopefully get a class in at Gracie Barra Boston.
I'll keep you up to date as much as I can.
In the meantime, how about a little Boston HC:




Aaaaaand some not so hardcore, but I love this song:
The Modern Lovers:

Monday, October 13, 2008

Chili Mac Supreme..

When I was in high school one of the more popular places to get some food was Steak-n-shake mostly because they were open 24 hours, and the food was pretty good. On their menu you can get chili, chili mac, or if you were feeling really good about your self you got the Chili mac supreme which was chili, noodles, onions and cheese. Inspired by this taste treat from my youth the friday workout was

clean and jerk supreme:
at least 20 reps each station, move stations when the slowest person gets to 20.
Seated clean and jerk @ 35 lb dumbbells
Barbell clean and jerk @ 95
Kb clean and jerk @ 44
sand bag clean and jerk @ 80

Saturday: worked on some movement stuff to escape guard passes. Then open mat. I was feeling really good on Saturday. Movement was good and controlled, and I am getting better at finishing submissions which is a real weakness for me right now.

Later that day gym time:
Speed pulls 10 singles @ 315 + light bands.
Forced me to stay tight the whole time, and really pull more explosively.
Did some core stuff and a lot of foam rolling.

Sunday was the father-in-law's birthday brunch.. I ate too much, and it was good.

Friday, October 10, 2008

My way of joking is to tell the truth. That's the funniest joke in the world.

-Muhammad Ali

Watched SNL in prime time last night. I haven't watched it in years. Partially because I don't stay up that late any more, partially because it stopped being funny. Last night was funny, and told a lot of truth about our current state. Reminded me of this quote.

Training last night:
20" box @ light band+45

155+ light band
6x2 need to work on pressing through my sticking point.

worked up to 4 @ 4 plates. This is one of those magic "if you can do this you're officially strong" qualifiers for me.. ok I'll have to get 5 reps before it counts.. still a pr though.

20 total reps neutral grip dead hang.

feeling better, but my nose is running like crazy.
I hate doing exercises like step-ups and benching light weights (even with crazy band pressure) but I need to keep the big picture in mind. You can't go super heavy day in and out, especially since I keep getting sick.
Have to keep reminding myself to take the medicine, do what you suck at..
Have a good weekend.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

working my way out of the weeds.

Catching up today.
Tuesday, got a good lift in. I'm going to keep from loading my spine this week tues, thurs, and then go at it heavy next week. The wife brought home some interesting germs from school and I'm trying to let my immune system recoup. Felt like poo yesterday and stayed home from work.
Tuesday's lifting:
glue hams
5x5 @ light band + 10kgs.

worked up to 2 @ 185 + light band.
the band pressure at the top of these is incredible.
I am going to go back to band benching for a while.

20 total reps @ bw

standing cable rows:
4 x 8 @ stack.

sweating out the sick:
20 minutes of very light intervals on the hand bike, and some medicine ball work.

single leg work, more band benching, pull-ups and chest supported rows.

hopefully I'll be out of the weeds. I leave for Boston a week from yesterday, and want to make sure I'm over this cold before then.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The sandal has conquered the boot.

About 150 years ago, in a far off place called St. Louis, Missouri, there lived a band. They often would start shows with "the boot will conquer the sandal!" As someone who has eschewed shoes for most of my life, I was a little put off, but the Urge kicked much ass. While resistant I traded my flops for some docs (ok, I owned boots for a while before that, but I wore them more often). They were one of those rare bands that were both high-octane, and super proficient. They put on a great show and their albums were super tight. THe problem: they were one of those 90s multi-genre fusion bands (funk/punk/metal/ska) and that went out of style.
At their height they were featured on a movie soundtrack (the underrated Titan A.E.) Cranked out a couple records for Epic, and then just ran out of gas.

for your viewing and listening pleasure...
Ladies and gentlemen.. The Urge~!

there are a couple others on youtube, but they won't allow me to embed.. bastards.

Went to jiu-jitsu last night worked on some stuff, and had a couple good rolls.
Simple relaxed stuff.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Being on call stinks.

It's been bupkis all week, and then in the last two days the phone's been ringing off the hook. Oh well, at least I get OT pay for it.

Friday fun:
2 minute rounds twice. partner work.
10 kb swings/oh static hold
medicine ball push-ups 1 each side/plank
resisted sprint/pulling the bands to resist the runner.
this was a good one.

Saturday: I was feeling pretty beat up. I just went to class. Had a few good rolls. We worked on some movement. I was pretty tired, so I just hung out at home with the wife who's been feeling under the weather.

Today, I signed up for facebook. if you're on there, friend me.

Friday, October 3, 2008

For he today who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother,

That quote is often bandied about in rugby circles, it's a bit contrived, but there's also some truth to it.
Yesterday I helped coach a lower division rugby club. I'll not be sharing the name of the club, because well... they were terrible. Not that it's their fault. They have no real coaching. They're great folks, good athletes, and absorbed everything I told them immediately. it's just that they've never been taught how to do things. I had a lot of fun. I offered to come back and help them out again.

Yesterday's lifting beforehand:
worked up to a single @ 465
5 singles @ 445

chins: 4x amap @ bw

1a rows: 8/8, 6/6, 5/5 @ 95

bench: worked up to 2x2 @ 225

Kept the upper body stuff low volume/light because I knew I'd be doing a lot of line-out lifting and scrummaging later.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Back in the saddle again..

went to jiu-jitsu last night. Took it fairly easy, but got some work in.
Tonight, I'm going to do some coaching for an old rugby buddy's new club. Rumor has it that they need some serious help in the forwards. I'm going to get a lift in before hand.
It should be interesting.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Non-traditional training.

Last night's training consisted of 20 reps of porcelain box-squats.
Must have been something I ate.. feeling better now though.