Make The Best Of A Bad Situation

So there I was, ready to lift. It was a light day for my squats, so I’m ready to bang out a quick five reps and move on with my day. I get under the bar and lift it up, take my walkout, and squat. I feel myself break parallel and push the weight up.

It was about at that point I thought to myself, “Self, this feels heavy as hell.”

Despite it being a light day for my main lift, I just couldn’t manage to get things going. I had a lot of potential reasons why. One could be a combination of having been sick earlier this week and not fully recovered, coupled with prolonged caloric restriction as well as my recent motivation issues.

Needless to say, it was shaping up as a bad day…so it was time to make the best of a bad situation.

Continue reading “Make The Best Of A Bad Situation”

The Allure Of Crossfit

I was talking with someone the other day, a friend who weight trains pretty regularly, and he made the comment that he didn’t understand the allure of Crossfit. “I just don’t get it,” he quipped.

Well, I’m not a crossfitter, and I’ve never played one on TV, but I think I do.

Allow me to give you my thinking from a layman’s perspective. I’m going to start by saying I have never done CrossFit, but I’ve seen plenty of WODs being conducted in the box attached to my commercial gym–seriously, there’s a big old window between the two. It’s hard to miss it–and I’ve researched it a fair bit.

Some of what I say about Crossfit may be wrong, and I welcome correction on those points, but let’s also keep in mind that the word “allure” means what draws people, so what actually happens may be irrelevant. It’s what people think will happen.

So, with all that out of the way, why do some people find themselves drawn to something like Crossfit?

Well, there are a number of reasons that I can see. Continue reading “The Allure Of Crossfit”

Early Thoughts On Giant Sets For Conditioning

As noted over the weekend, I was going to try and do a little something to not just keep my workouts from running long, but also to provide some conditioning work.

That was to do giant sets for my accessory movements.

So far, as of this writing, I’ve gotten precisely two sessions done with giant sets, so what follows are some very preliminary thoughts on the topic of giant sets and their role in conditioning.

First, let’s talk about what giant sets are for anyone reading who is unfamiliar.

A giant set is basically going between three or more exercises one right after the other as part of one giant…well…set. (just two exercises is called a “superset.”) For example, you can go from chin-ups to Romanian deadlifts to dumbbell rows, for example. You do those, then you get to take a rest.

For the uninitiated, they don’t sound like much. I mean, it’s the same work you were going to do, right?

In practice, though, they will kick. Your. Ass.

There’s really no other way to put it. If you’re deconditioned, they will make you hate life in ways you may well have never experienced. Further, it’s not the kind of conditioning that’s notorious for interfering with your strength/muscular increases. At least, that’s the theory.

The truth is, giant sets are conditioning. They’re conditioning that is slammed into your normal training, though, so it’s easy to forget about them as you look at your program.

What we need to ask ourselves is, are giant sets sufficient?

Looking at it from where I currently stand, I’m going to say “maybe.” Especially in conjunction with the light lifts for time in the new program.

Right now, giant sets provide all the conditioning work I can probably stand. It’s kicking my butt right now and I’m not sure additional conditioning would be beneficial. In fact, more conditioning work might be counterproductive. After all, I’m already going to be doing a version of high-intensity interval training four times per week.

But that’s right now.

Over time, your body adapts to stuff. It adapts to things and becomes more efficient at it, thereby negating the benefits of what you’re doing. That’s why just running two miles a day stops being beneficial after a short time.

I can easily see giant sets hitting that same point.

Yeah, you’re adding weight and all that, and you can reduce your rest time, but at some point, you’re just not getting much more in the way of conditioning. Do giant sets still condition you?

My thinking is that they do, but they will no longer be sufficient to do more than maintain your current level of conditioning.

So what then?

Honestly, I don’t know. I’ll probably add in some jump rope training and maybe some plyometrics into the mix, as well as potentially adding some kettlebell swings into the routine.

But that’s a ways down the road. Several weeks at a minimum.

For now, I think this will do the trick nicely.

When you start trying to get conditioned, you need to start relatively slow. You don’t go from your couch to running a marathon by starting off with five-mile runs. You run a bit, then expand what you’re able to do.

For me, giant sets are just that. They’re conditioning for now. Then, I’ll add more as I need to.

The truth is, I will likely never be satisfied with my conditioning. I will always want more, pretty much because I look at conditioning as I do ammo.

What I mean by that is that no one ever survived a gunfight and said, “I wish I’d carried less ammo.” On the same token, no one ever thinks they have too much conditioning.

My goal is to have sufficient conditioning and strength where I don’t have to wonder if I have enough of either.

No, I won’t get there purely with giant sets, but I do see them as a good start. If not, then I can step back and try something else. That’s the great thing about training. If something doesn’t work, you can adjust fire and do something different.

For me, though, I’m confident that giant sets are a huge leap forward for me and my training.

Five Month Thoughts On Training

They say that if you do anything for 21 days or so, it becomes a habit. I’m not so sure that’s accurate for me, but since I figure the comment is about most people and not each and every person, I’ll let it slide.

But I will say that if it’s remotely true, then training is, indeed, a habit.

Today marks a special day for me. Not super-special, mind you, but special none the less. You see, today is the five-month anniversary of me beginning training once again.

As a result, I’m going to offer some thoughts by way of celebration. Continue reading “Five Month Thoughts On Training”

New Training Program

As I noted earlier this week, it was time to start looking for a new training plan. I’ve spent the weekend looking and plotting, and since tomorrow is the start of the week, it meant I needed to make a plan by the end of today.

However, truth be told, I already had a plan kind of in mind, and that meant anything new had to compete against that and beat it.

Well, nothing did.

So, without further ado–because I know you’ve all been on pins and needles all weekend on this, right? </sarc>–here’s my plan moving forward: Continue reading “New Training Program”

Dealing With Bad Days Training

Our culture is littered with cliches about how bad days happen. “You win some, you lose some,” or the very similar, “you can’t win them all,” or even, “Some days, you eat the bear. Other days, the bear eats you.”

We all know that bad days happen, and anyone who has spent much time on this planet knows that they can happen in bunches.

Well, I’ve been dealing with that this week and no, I don’t know how to deal with it all that well. Continue reading “Dealing With Bad Days Training”

The Zen Of Training

In my life, I’ve tried a lot of training modalities for various reasons. I’ve done Tae Bo, I’ve done fitness videos where you sit on a stupid ball and do various lifts with lightweight dumbbells, I’ve done types of yoga, kettlebells, bodybuilding lifts, odd objects, and plenty of others.

However, it’s only in lifting weights that I have found a certain zen-like quality that exists nowhere else in the world for me. Continue reading “The Zen Of Training”

Always Moving

I’ve had kind of an up-and-down week. I’ve had great days and great workouts, but I’ve also been feeling a little down…always on days I’m not lifting.

Now, this tells me something. It tells me that lifting improves my mood. This isn’t surprising in the least. It’s probably pretty normal. If I lift, I feel like I’ve accomplished something and perhaps triggered some endorphins to release. Who knows.

But here’s the problem with that fact.

Starting Strength calls for a three day per week lifting schedule if you do it by the book. While I’m generally a fan of the program, there are problems that I’ve recognized even beyond my previous review. At this point, I’ve been doing it for three months, and I’m seeing some lifts lag behind a bit while others do incredibly well.

Further, the lack of anything in between is problematic for me considering what I’m seeing regarding my mood.

So, with that in mind, I’ve decided I may need to reevaluate a few things. Continue reading “Always Moving”

Breakthroughs

Do you ever have that moment where something that kicked your butt the last time you encountered it gets shattered all to hell and back the next time you run into it?

Well, that happened to me earlier today, and it’s awesome.

Let me back up a bit. A little over a month ago, I hit a deadlift attempt for five reps but could only do four. I just didn’t have a fifth rep in me. I know, I tried.

It was right before I what Starting Strength calls a reset. Basically, you take some weight off the bar and work back up. In theory, this will let you shatter through the previous wall. It makes sense, at least for a novice lifter.

I hit the deadlift wall, then an overhead press wall, so it was time for a reset.

Today, I had to attempt the same weight I failed on a month ago. Guess what?

I kicked it in the balls. Continue reading “Breakthroughs”

The Challenges Of Training Outside

I love training outside. You get a little fresh air, some Vitamin D, and you’re doing something most people never really bother with when it comes to weight training.

Further, if weight training alone builds mental toughness, training in the heat and cold has got to build it even better, right?

The thing is, it also introduces challenges that have to be accounted for or else you could find it causing you serious problems. Continue reading “The Challenges Of Training Outside”