How To Suck At Life

Wow, it sure has been a long time since I posted any content here.

No, I didn’t die. Obviously. Because here I am writing to you.

But, lots of other stuff happened.

My favorite aunt, who was like a second mother to me, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, struggled with it for three years, and passed away.

My mom was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. She had major surgery, chemo, and radiation, and, thank God, is cancer free today.

And there’s still the fallout from my Dad’s sudden death way back in 2005. That upended my life and I never really found a solid foothold with that until very recently.

I emotionally ate through all that crap, and gained back all the weight I had lost in the previous years. I’m now heavier than I have ever been in my whole life, and I’m pretty pissed off about it.

But, on the bright side, I lifted fairly consistently and heavily throughout all of that, so I also retained quite a bit of strength. I worked with a few great trainers, and a few bad ones. I learned a lot about what type of training is best for my body, and I’m hoping to apply that knowledge in my long road back to health.

Good.

Onward.

One of the things I learned is: I feel great working out and lifting every day IF it’s the right kind of lifting.

Kettlebells every day? No. Injuries galore.

CrossFit every day? No. See above.

Martial arts every day? No. See above, again.

Bodybuilding/Powerlifting every day? Yes. I feel like a million bucks.

I will admit, I bought fully into the CrossFit “bodybuilding sucks” propaganda. I snickered at the dummies doing curls and using the cable machine. Meanwhile, I couldn’t bend over because my back hurt from doing deadlifts for time, or do a simple push-up because my shoulders were jacked up from doing 100’s of burpees and overhead kettlebell swings.

With all that in mind, today I started a cycle of Dan John’s “Even Easier Strength.” I recently read Matt Perryman’s Squat Everyday book, and having had the epiphany that I can actually lift every day and feel great, I decided to run a cycle of one of the greatest lift every day programs there is: Easy Strength.

My first workout today was:

Stretch – 5-10 minutes

Deadlift 2×5

Overhead Press – 2×5

Seated Cable Row – 3×5

Barbell Hip Thrust – 2×5

Farmer’s Walk

Short, brisk walk outside with the dogs.

And that’s it for today. I started with really, really light weights and will work up to heavier as I go along. The idea with lifting every day (unless I’m doing a bodybuilding split) is to never, ever struggle with a weight. All lifts are easy, or relatively easy, anyway. No grinding out 99% 1RM deadlifts. Naughty, naughty.

I would also like to point out, before the kettlebell and CrossFit and Beach Body haters come around, that I’m not saying those types of workouts are wrong or stupid. They just don’t work for me without making me a creaky, grumpy, exhausted, binge eating excuse for a human being. I think every one has a different type of program that works for them. So if you think CrossFit is the bee’s knees, and you can honestly say you thrive on it, then good for you, go for it!

I’ll just be over here, doing my lateral raises and lat pulldowns, cheering you on.

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Adventures In Jump-Roping

What a week.

Family and professional obligations kept me hopping every day. Most days I had an hour early morning or after 9 or 10 pm to get warmed up, workout, shower, eat, and either leave home or crash into bed. So my carefully planned workouts got smashed to smithereens and scrunched haphazardly back together.

Friday

A. Ring dips – 3 sets of 7 reps (with red band)
B. Close grip bench press @ 30X0 – 5 x 3 (63#)
C. Standing Press @ 12X1 – 6 x 3 (43#)
D. HB box squat – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 (not a build to 1RM) – 53#/63#/73#/83#/93#
E. 2 Power snatch (touch & go) – every 30 seconds x 6 minutes
F. Hanging leg raises – 5 unbroken x 10 sets

Obviously, this was not supposed to be A-F, it was meant to be A/B/C on one day, and A/B/C + conditioning workout the next. But I had to get ‘er done, so I mashed it all together in one session, minus the conditioning work.

Saturday

10 minutes wave load kettlebell snatches
(wave load = 8kg x 5 per arm / 10 kg x 5 per arm / 12 kg x 5 per arm – rest 10 seconds or so between sets. Repeat for 10 minutes.)
I ended up getting four sets per weight.

Rest for as long as it took to set up equipment, then:

10 minutes @ 80-90% aer pace:
row 250 meters
75 jump ropes
I got 4 rounds

My old nemesis, jump rope, returned to torment me tonight. One of my many, many, many idiosyncrasies is that I am absolutely unable to jump rope while wearing shoes. Stupid, but true. Therefore, I ended up rowing barefoot. Rowing is not really what I’d call “fun” in the traditional sense of the word, and rowing barefoot is even less “fun.” By the end it didn’t matter though, because I felt like I was just going to spontaneously combust – so I the way my feet felt was not really high on my list of priorities.

Here’s hoping next week is more sane.

LoLo is Watching and You Have Nothing To Lose

Yesterday as I was perusing some of my favorite websites, I came across this post from Jenna at Cold Antler Farms:

You Have Nothing To Lose

It really struck a chord with me. I think my biggest problem in life is that I’m a quitter. I quit on jobs, I quit on friendships, I quit on commitments, and most of all I quit on myself.

Some things you do need to quit. Like that job I had where I felt like I had a Bulgarian weightlifter on my shoulders every day, and one of the 75+ kilo weightlifters at that. He sweat a lot – it stank, in more ways than one. That job, I needed to quit.

I had all this in the back of my mind when I read Jenna’s post. I already quit the stinky job, I work from home on a beautiful cattle ranch so no need to dream for that. What I dream of is more simple: to not be a quitter. This is the thing that continually frustrates and confounds me about myself. I start a new workout program, or I start building something, and the going gets a little rough and I retreat immediately.

Instead of writing “don’t be a quitter” on a piece of paper and sticking it in my pocket, I found a simpler, more positive manifestation of my goal. It’s no secret that LoLo Jones is one of my heroes. Cliff Notes version of LoLo’s story: dad in and out of jail, raised by a single mother, brief periods of homelessness, budding shoplifter (at dad’s urging), discovers track, finishes high school, puts herself through college, tries out for Olympic team, doesn’t make it, tries again, makes it, leading 100 meter hurdle finals in Olympics, hits second to last hurdle and falls, loses, comes back, has spinal surgery, comes back, tears hamstring months before next Olympic trials, makes team anyway, makes 100 meter hurdle finals, finishes fourth, decides immediately to go to the next Olympics four years from now when she will be 34 years old.

Uh, not a quitter.

So I hung up a picture of LoLo in my gym. Then I decided that wasn’t enough so I hung one up where I could easily see it from my nice comfy, recliner and another in my office. Now, when I start to waver I look up and there’s LoLo, running away. She’s saying “I’m out here working my butt off. What are you doing, cream puff?”

Which is how I found myself in my gym last night at 8 pm, working my butt off.

5 sets all out:
10 power clean and push press, 53#
5 assisted chins (on rings)
row 100 meters
(walk rest 4 min between sets)

rest 10 minutes

AirDyne – 45 second incremental max effort
(15 seconds @ 90%, 15 sec @ 95%, 15 sec sprint)
rest 3:15 b/t sets x 3

I would have rather said to myself, like I always do, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” But LoLo was watching, so I couldn’t quit. Hopefully, little by little I can build on that determination and make myself into something other than a quitter.

Also: LoLo, I swear I am not a stalker.

Two A Day

Part 1 (AM)

Row 5:00 easy warm-up

Row 250 meters @ 100%
Rest 1 minute x 3

Row 500 meters @ 85%
Row 250 meters @ 50%
Rest 30 seconds x 3

Rest 6+ hours

Part 2: (PM)

A1. Sumo Deadlift 3/3/3/3/3 (rest 2 minutes)
A2. Ring dips – 6 reps, 5 sets (rest 2 minutes)
B1. KB swing – 35# x 10 reps
B2. Push-ups – amrap (-1) (rest 2 minutes x 5 sets)
C. Hanging leg raises 10 sets of 5; rest short b/t sets

Rowing:
3:02.8 / 750 meters / 2:01.8 500m avg / 28 s/m
10:48.2 / 2250 meters / 2:24.0 500m avg / 23 s/m

A1. 133# / 143 / 153 / 163 /163
A2. red band assisted
B2. avg 6 reps per set w/ red band

I’m back at it after I tweaked my hip flexor again last week. This time it was for a totally legit reason: wildlife and firearms. Let’s just say that said wildlife had sharp teeth and instead of returning my fire it decided to chase me, which required me to run while hurdling various obstacles. I ran like LoLo, y’all.

Speaking of LoLo, I’m a big fan and I’m totally bummed that she missed out on a medal this time around. However, anyone that practices one thing for six hours a day, six days a week for twelve years and never gives up is a winner in my book. So I tacked a picture of LoLo in full flight up on my gym wall for inspiration. Today when I was rowing I got into the 500/250 meter repeats and I totally wanted to give up. I fell into the rowing pain hole and I had the overwhelming desire to just climb out and never go back. I looked up at the picture and I thought, “What would LoLo do?” She wouldn’t quit, that’s what. So I didn’t either and what do you know, I didn’t die.

Thanks, LoLo!

Here We Go Again

This week marks a return to training for me after finally starting to get over that ugly, nasty, downright mean hip flexor injury I had. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. For reals.

OPT (aka James Fitzgerald) started posting workouts on his site geared specifically for women (“She”) and I decided to try that for a while. Yesterday was workout #1:

A1. 1 1/4 standing press @ 3021; 5-7 x 4; rest 2 min
A2. mixed grip chin ups @ 21X0; 3-4 x 4; rest 2 min
B1. DB push press @ 1010; 15-20 x 3; rest 90 sec
B2. CTB chin ups – amrap sets of 2 in 90 sec; rest 90 sec x 3
(STICK to tempo; press to nose/eye level, lower back down, then all the way up = 1 rep for 1 1/4 press)
A1. 39# (starting waaaaay light)
A2. 4 to 3 reps per set, used my legs to give me a little momentum over the bar
B1. 15# x 15 reps
B2. ring pull-ups from my knees, averaged 5 sets per 90 seconds
Today’s workout was:
A. HB Back Squat @ 40X0; 8,8,6,6,4,4; rest 2:30 b/t sets
B. Hang Squat Clean – 2 every 30 sec TnG moderate for 8 minutes – more than last week
C. GH raises – 12 x 3; rest 1 min
A. Sled drags: 2 x 75 yards (tire sled only) / 2 x 75 yards + 18# / 2 x 75 yards + 25#
B. Power cleans, 53#
C. 12 x 3 (stuck feet under freezer and did them on the floor)
In my mind I was planning to do lunges with a barbell on my back. Well, no dice on that one. So I tried Anderson squats (off pins in a squat rack). Uh, no. Also negatory for split squats and regular back squats. I think at this point it is about 50% actual pain and 50% fear of pain that is holding me back. To be honest, I’m not sure I have any business even doing squats again. Ever. I’m just not built for it and I see little point in continuing to bang my head against a brick wall when I could be working hard on something else instead. Sled drags, yoke carries and lots and lots of kettlebell swings seem like fine options to me.

Heel!

In the morning:

2-ish mile walk with the dog, working on heeling and walking on the leash. Followed by an extended stick throwing session at the pond.

In the evening:

Five rounds of:
50 yard farmer’s walk, 2 cinder blocks
50 yard sled drag, tire + rim

Last weekend I happened to catch a marathon of Cesar Millan’s Dog Whisperer show on TV. I was fascinated, and conveniently, I have a one year old rambunctious border collie in dire need of discipline. Naturally, I immediately switched off the TV and let her in the house and started practicing. Her crate (which she hates) is in the entry way of the house, and after about five minutes of me practicing sit, stay and similar things with her, she just walked over, crawled in her crate and refused to come out. In dog, I think that means “I hate the fracking Dog Whisperer.”

The next thing I started working on was walking on a leash and heeling. I had tried teaching this to her before, without success. I tried Cesar’s techniques, and after two ten minute sessions she was doing it perfectly. Today we walked almost two miles and she heeled the whole way perfectly. Amazing.

Now, if Cesar would only tell me how to get her to come.

Fat Bar Blues

I don’t really have the fat bar blues, I just started typing a title and that sounded pretty good. There’s a twelve bar blues in music, so why can’t there be a fat bar blues? Also, wouldn’t that be a great band name? “In concert tonight, Fat Bar Blues! With special guests The Power Snatches!”

One additional fat bar thought: the other day I went to Google and typed in “fat bar.” I had a brief moment of panic the split second I hit search. That’s the type of ill advised term that will bring up the sorts of things that will scar you for life. Luckily, more people seem to be interested in fat bars for weightlifting that they are for, uh… other things.

Moving on. This workout was scheduled for Tuesday, and as I check my calendar I can’t help but notice that it is not Tuesday. Nor is it Wednesday. Tuesday was filled with what ranchers call “wrecks.” It started in the morning with a broken bearing in an ATV and culminated at 9:00 pm with blood, mud and darkness.

I don’t remember what happened yesterday. Stuff that wasn’t lifting, apparently. At a quarter to nine tonight I decided “screw it, I’m just gonna go start lifting stuff.”

Turkish Get-Up
7 reps per side, 8kg

Fat Bar Deadlift – Sumo
3 x 86# / 5 x 116# / 5 x 136#

Superset
1A. Power Snatch x 3 (53#)
1B. Pull-ups x 3

KB Swings
5 x 10, 10kg

And now I feel much better about life in general.