Sunday, June 30, 2013

Speed kills

Met with my coach over the weekend to review a few small issues and one or two big ones. Many thanks to Scott Shetler of Extreme Conditioning and Fitness. I only see Scott a couple times a year, but he always makes time and always finds little things that I and other trainers have missed.

I need to work on speed. I'm strong enough for the lifts, but I'm not fast enough between positions. I hate to go back to this so often, but most of my speed is in my feet, not my knees. This also clearly shows that my strength training, while useful, has trained me to be slow. My squat training will be different for awhile.

Ironically, I'm about to have to trade deadlifts for swings and cleans.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Training Journal - 2013/06/23 week

06/23-06/29 LC, 5/1.2
- see Coach on Friday. Probably putting off second KB day until then.

M LC sets
LC, alternating 20kg and 24kg:
- 6,6@20kg, 5,5@24kg, 5@20kg, 5,5@24kg
28kg SW: 3x10
2x20 CL: 2x10
50 Step-downs: 50/4 sets
Stretch, notes: right side not meeting the lockout at the top. Cleans a little clunky, but better at the end.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

I gained weight today

A former coworker of mine used to refer to me -- in my presence, mind you -- as "skinny mother-####-er". I naturally walk around at 148lbs, so I get it; I'm small. I accidentally ate myself up to a sickly 172lbs a few years ago, then remediated 18lbs of it with just modest changes to diet and a daily walk. I may have no perspective on congenital morbid obesity, but I can speak from experience on causative issues like sedentary lifestyle and overeating. The issue is not strictly weight gain or weight loss; it is weight management.

There's a reason for me to want to put some weight on now; I'm 43 years old. You can read here and here that adults lose 10-15% of their lean body mass (muscle and bone, "LBM") every decade starting as early as our late 20s. One of the above links recommends weight lifting for women to combat osteoporosis. The other discusses bodybuilding-style training through middle age to simply maintain LBM. This isn't even about being smaller or lighter, but about building the moving part of you that eats the dead-weight part of you and helps you get up and down the stairs.

I may not even change my weight as I age, but I could unwittingly trade 15lbs of engine and metabolism for 15lbs of dead weight every 10 years. I'd get slower and weaker without the number on the scale changing. Think with me... if you trip on the sidewalk, are you quick enough to get your foot back under you, or strong enough to catch yourself on your hands? If your body hits the ground, will you bruise a layer of muscle or break a hip?

Training journal - 2013/06/16 week

Training the week of 2013/06/16. Have not handled double bells in 4wks. Have not successfully handled double 24kg bells in at least 6wks.

Sunday - not scheduled. Indian club work and stretching. Single 16kg juggling, swings, snatches, and overhead carries. Double 16kg partial overhead squats. All done in the Sun, quite refreshing.

Monday - KB Long Cycle and knee work
Warmup: Indian clubs, foam roll, and 16kg work including double overhead partial squats
LC in sets of 3-5
- 2x20kg: 5, 5
- 2x24kg: 3, 3, 3, 3*, 5
- 1x28kg: 5ea, 5ea
Partial OHSQ: 2x16kg, 10, 10
50 Step-downs each: 20, 15, 15
Stretch notes: * discovered that my usual rack position does not support 2x24kg properly. Rounded lumbar and low elbows made me immediately light-headed. Straight/arched lumbar held the bells higher, but relieved the effect on my breathing and blood pressure.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Food journal - 2013/06/10 to weekend

A fairly typical food journal, presented because I've been discussing weight a lot lately. This is boring and academic, but noteworthy when I started this schedule at 151.2lb and ended it at 151.6lb. Having pasta 3x in 2 days was accidental and unusual. The rest is typical for me.

Monday - Press and pull day
banana and vitamins before workout
1pt milk, 3 eggs with 1c spinach and feta cheese
almonds with coffee
roasted chicken, 1/2 sweet potato, small salad
coffee, chocolate
pork chop, black beans and rice, salad

whole milk protein shake with berries
2 boiled eggs, apple
pork chop, black beans and rice
coffee, chocolate
1/2 of a 12" meat pizza, small salad
whole milk protein shake with chocolate syrup

Wednesday - Squat day
banana and vitamins before workout
1pt milk, 3 eggs with 1c spinach and feta cheese
1c oatmeal with berries and 1c whole milk, coffee
2pc fried chicken, greens, mac 'n cheese
coffee, chocolate
BLT, 2 slices pizza
small whole milk protein shake with chocolate syrup

Thursday - KB pentathlon and walk
banana and vitamins before workout
whole milk protein shake with berries
2 boiled eggs, coffee
Five Guys bacon burger, no mayo or cheese, 1/2c peanuts
coffee, small chocolate

Friday - evening Deadlifts
1pt milk, 3 eggs with 1c spinach and feta cheese
1/2 c oatmeal, coffee
roasted chicken breast, 1/2 sweet potato
coffee, chocolate
PB crackers, green tea
green salad with tuna salad, grilled cheese sandwich, tomato soup
small milkshake with protein powder

1 boiled egg, toast with butter, 1pt milk, coffee
2 slices pizza - pepperoni, spinach and mushroom
lasagna and green salad
coffee, chocolate

Sunday - club work, 16kg juggling, and Sun
whole milk protein shake, coffee
lasagna and green salad
spaghetti with meatballs and peppers
coffee, chocolate

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Rebooting and Applying Updates

This weekend will mark 1 month since the last meet.  I took a couple days off, then a month of barbells and single kettlebell drills. In very short order, this has reactivated a few strengths and revealed a few weaknesses. I already knew that I had gotten strong at 2x20kg Long Cycle and weaker at everything else, but this sort of discovery really should be the point of recovery and reboot periods.

First, my gym's owner greeted me this week with "are you finally getting heavy? your shirt's gotten tight up here", motioning across my chest and shoulders. To be honest, I was 151lb at the meet and 151lb today, but a tad more defined. My next meet has a 73kg/160lb weight class, not my usual 68kg/151lb, so I have room to grow into the new weights. What I need is squats and oatmeal and peanut butter and jelly between meals. What I really need is PBJ oatmeal... hold that thought for another post.

This article describes a few of my lumbar and shoulder symptoms to the letter, despite a bit of a tabloid title. It actually suggests a link to some old training habits. I've added abdomen and trunk exercises twice a week as suggested, and I'm eager to see what follows.

Adding Indian clubs every session has been really interesting for my joints. My left wrist now moves nearly as well as the right, and that can only be a good thing. I've also done knee therapy every workout, with good gains in strength and elasticity. I'm considering moving into leg curls and leg extensions on machines. I know how that sounds, coming from me, but there are thousands of strong men who've built powerhouse legs using those two machines as assistance work. I'm not avant-garde for avant-garde's sake; some things actually just work.

So that's what I'm up to. My assistance work is way up. My calorie burn is way up, and I'm regaining some of the strength I let go of between the Spring meets. I'm actually working on a 1-wk food journal to show exactly what I'm burning through, just for the record. In a few days, I start doing weekly splits of Long Cycle and barbells again, and I'm a little bit excited. One should be a little excited about their training, especially when it produces results.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Smallest Winner, Biggest Loser

There's a difference between fitness and sport: sport has winners and losers. Yes, it's noble to set a goal and test yourself, but you could do that alone in the park. You paid $49 to pin on a number and join a crowd. As Jerry Seinfeld said, the New York Marathon is "a man from Kenya, a woman from Norway, and 20,000 losers", and you actually paid money to be one of them. That is no longer about fitness, unless you have 19,000 close friends you like to run with.

All alone at 65kg
The iron sports are segregated into weight classes, so a small meet may give a gold medal to every competitor. A large meet may have 10 golds, silvers, and bronzes, and a Best Lifter trophy that usually goes to a heavyweight or a visiting champion. While I've never actually earned either of these places, my thoughts today are about the silver and bronze.

I have a confession to make: I have a competitive side. I may not have a terribly motivated constitution overall, so this may be more of a selfish streak or a need for approval. My current pursuit in kettlebell sport highlights the conditions that I am middle-aged, a late starter, and teensy. There is virtually nothing I can do about those facts. I've come to know most of the region's competitors around my size, so I can predict weeks in advance whether I'll medal at a meet based on its Facebook page.

Winning for the first time at 70kg
For more than 2 years, I've been alone in the lightest weight class. You can barely imagine what it's like to stand on the platform with no competition and no hope of Best Lifter, year after year. It shouldn't matter, but it does to me. In a meet this Spring, I finally outscored a competitor in my own weight class and 3 heavier athletes lifting the same bells. That was the first time I've had direct competition, and oddly the first time I haven't felt like my certificate read "Participant". I'm sorry for how shallow that sounds, but it's honest.

There is this certain challenge to one's self-esteem when you stand out for your novelty instead of your achievement. I've lifted the same bells as much heavier guys and made ranking scores multiple times. But I never beat anyone fair and square, never won Best Lifter, and never lifted the heaviest bells. I am honored to have earned some respect, but even respect can stick in your throat.

My August meet recently changed affiliations to an organization that uses 10kg-wide weight classes instead of 5kg-wide, and requires me to move up to 24kg bells. I did not see this coming. A local Candidate for Master of Sport has been roped into my weight class, probably along with several other larger guys. This wider class will likely contest both silver and bronze. (We couldn't beat Dunn with a tranquilizer gun and a head start.) I have to move up to 24kg bells to compete at all, so there's a deadline on that open-ended goal I've been chasing for over a year. My Summer suddenly seems less mundane, and this upcoming meet will probably be the best thing that's happened to my training in years.