Friday, March 27, 2015

The ripple effect

I may have overdone it just a little. I pressed heavier than I needed to, and I knew it when I did it. I made one shoulder sore on the front side. It's also the side I sleep on, so now my sleep is this hybrid of making my shoulder worse and making the rest of me aggravated.

So, I'm missing sleep this week and skipping workouts. I hate doing that, but I never put iron overhead if my mind isn't clear. I'm hoping to sleep in Saturday morning, get coffee, then lift and run.

I also just bought a friend's barbells and squat rack. I was shocked at how awkward and heavy everything seemed to be, even though I routinely handle kettelebells heavier than a 45lb plate. I'm a little nervous and a lot excited about restarting this muscle-building cycle with actual weights. It's about to get real up in here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Until I met the store that had no shoes

I have never considered myself a shoe snob. I began my adult years with one pair each of dress and sneakers, as young men do. When I ran those first few steps in 2009 and my hip seized up around the screws, I became interested in shoes again. I learned to run again in Vibram Five Fingers KSO, and I currently run in Merrell Trail Gloves.

I love my Trail Gloves, as you can see. Unfortunately, I run almost entirely on the road, and you can actually hear Trail Glove soles wearing away on pavement if your music's not too loud. That line has been replaced twice now, and I'm sorting through pages of TG 3 to find the originals in a men's 8 like some weird Amazon scavenger hunt. I thought it would be smart to try on some replacements.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Rousey is right, according to science

I posted this article on steroid use on Facebook the day after UFC 184. It got zero likes, comments, shares, nothing, like it never happened. Following Ronda Rousey's 14-second win against an esteemed and undefeated challenger, the armchair critics rose up in their anonymity to denounce Rousey for fighting someone other than Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino. Cyborg is a known steroid user in another fight promotion, who fights a whole weight class higher than Rousey. Rousey calls steroid use cheating, and the science behind the issue is relevant for even amateur athletes like myself. I beg you to humor me to the bottom of the page, and to click at least one of the links below, the second of which is a peer-reviewed paper at the National Institutes of Health.

Once You’ve Used Steroids, Is It Possible to Ever Compete Clean Again?
Skeletal muscle morphology in power-lifters with and without anabolic steroids.

The fulcrum on which the Rousey v Cyborg story hinges is that the UFC has begun regular testing of all its athletes following numerous test failures by prominent fighters. Cyborg's fans maintain that she hasn't failed a steroid test since 2011, and should be considered "clean". There is this notion in so many sports that if a former steroid user is suspended or passes tests for some feels-right length of time, they will revert to "normal" and be fair competition again among their peers.

This notion is naive and not supported by science. The truth is that there is no suspension, no time out, that returns steroid-modified muscle and bone to its original design. The science shows that steroid use causes permanent changes in muscle fibers at the cellular level. Steroid use under resistance training causes muscle growth, including multiplication of the nuclei that govern protein synthesis for healing and future growth. And, this nuclei count does not go away for "several years", according to Eriksson and colleagues. A former user can return to training years later, and their muscle fibers will respond to training more intensely than an unmodified athlete.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Playing the long game

This season's training has been part of a long game. I focused on one-armed KB work, abs and back, and running for 8 weeks. My tolerance of the 24kg bell on my joints is much better now than a month ago, and I completed my first full set of 24kg OALC (30/30/10'). Whether I compete in May is no longer really a priority, but it does remain on the list of happy coincidences if things play out right.

I resolved this New Year's to put on 5 pounds of lean body mass. This is a standing order in the background of my training, at my age, with the issues I invested these 8 weeks into. Too many seniors break bones in simple falls or wither away during a routine illness. I lost 15lbs in a 5-day hospital stay once, in the so-called prime of my life. Ironically, my company has an annual Wellness Challenge every February, in which I set a goal to cut 9 pounds to a ripped-for-me 145. I reached a stable 148.5, plus or minus the morning paper. I'm content with the result, and this was lean enough to rebound.

In Mass Made Simple by Dan John, Dan recommends leading into a bulking cycle by getting really, really lean first; I've done that. I'm adapting the programming for the progressive calisthenics and KB sizes I have on hand. I'll won't match 1.25BW in the squats, but I can complete the complexes and squats under loads heavier than my competition KBs. (Double-KB squats are their own peculiar core challenge, so I'm counting them.) I'm actually excited.

April 15: 165lb, then a leaner 160 with double-24kg overhead press and high-rep squats.