Thursday, December 23, 2010

The "fully used up" fallacy examined

This is a paraphrase of a common statement you hear from "young punks" in extreme sports like snowboarding, rock climbing, kegging, etc.

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming-WOW! What a Ride!

Let's compare that to driving into a gas station at 2 AM arriving on fumes. How often does that work out for you? "Next services 96 miles" said the sign. You check, and about 1/4 tank, which is about 4 gallons, at 24 miles per gallon equals 96 miles. Sure, let's go for it. We should probably try to get there ASAP, so let's go 120 mph the whole way. Yeah.

The problem is that a lot of people who live like that hit Empty at around age 35 and realize "Oh, Crap! I'm only about half way there. Now what?". Maybe that's why a lot of these "extreme athletes" are pro-socialized-medicine. ;)

While I've totally ridden that life-and-death edge a number of times, I also feel the effects every day of accumulated injuries that I probably would have taken better and proper care of had I realized I would live this long.

So my advice is go ahead and live by the above creed, but do yourself a favor and plan your timing right. If you plan to die all used up, then plan to die when you're all used up. Just my two cents.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Personal Trainers, Coaches and You

One important train of thought as you decide on a program, especially if you're a rank beginner, involves Personal Trainers. A lot of gyms offer "trainers" as part of a membership package, or offer them as an extra, maybe with a free trial period.

Let me share some of my past with you before I go much further down that rail.

Several years ago, maybe 8 or 9 (?) I had a relative who very badly wanted to help people, and after a brief tour of massage schools, decided on personal training. They signed up for ISSA (one of the mainstream personal training study/school/certification businesses) and received the study manual. After almost a year of study they attended a weekend seminar that involved intense training and ended with the test. They failed.

In an effort to support them, I picked up the manual and skimmed it quickly, then said "I'll study with you and go with you to the next seminar". Actually I was a huge slacker and picked up the manual half-heartedly, and didn't really care one way or the other about it, whether I passed or not, I was just supporting them. After about three months we went to the seminar, and they failed again. I passed and was certified, though I never did anything with it, since I had a decent job.

Now, I was in my 40's, had been training off and on since I was 19, had read a crapload of books and articles, and had tried dozens of fads, so maybe I was a bit ahead of the 8-ball here, but still, if someone that studied for 15 months and attended two intense seminars can fail, it can't be shooting fish in a barrel, but then, I had merely skimmed the study guide and gone to one workshop, so it can't be that hard? I don't know.

Anyway, after all that, I felt pretty confident about programming (designing a routine that is doable to achieve goals), but it's only been recently that I've discovered "coaching". The distinction is important to you. Here goes ...

A trainer can design a program, walk around with you and help you set up machines, and help you stick to numbers and charts and graphs, talk to you and keep you amused. But you notice how they generally avoid the free weights at most gyms? That's because then we enter the realm of coaching.

I had no clue about the proper mechanics of a squat or deadlift until very recently, and I've been doing them for years. With a machine it's pretty hard to damage yourself, but you can really tear yourself up doing a bad bench press (and a quick google on shoulder pain in bench pressing will show you how easy it is to do). I think too that if you're younger, you can survive and recover from very poor technique and pull it off, so might not even notice (hence the amazing growth of the P90 and Cross stuff).

So what do you need? If you're in a gym using machines, programming is probably fine. If you're ready to take the plunge into free weights and you're young and in reasonably good shape, especially your joints, maybe Crossfit will do. Later, if you decide you want to lift real weights, and use good technique, maybe a coach would be better. IMHO FWIW YMMV ;)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Training Waypoint

It's a good idea when training to find some waypoint, some marker that you can refer to regularly to compare progress. One good standard of comparison is the before and after picture. I haven't been too good about that over the past few years, though I do have some from several years ago if I can dig them out.

I decided today after my PM weight workout to take some so I can compare myself and see what works and what doesn't, maybe determining when I'm "done" for now.

I took pictures from several standard angles and "poses". Front, side and rear relaxed or natural, and then a few with muscle tension. I liked this one and thought I'd share it right away. I might put up a few of the others soon. I like how now in this pose there's very little "tire" around my midsection, though I have a ways to go. I was tested at 14% bodyfat at the University of Utah PEAKS Performance Lab. I'd like to hit 10% by March 15th, 2011.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Your Best First Training Program - Weights

Weight Training, or perhaps phrased more accurately Resistance Training, is slowly gaining acceptance by more and more people, and has been proven by several different scientific studies to be one of the most efficient ways to help your body burn more calories, and assist in the calorie deficit needed to lose fat.

You don't need to worry too much about machines vs. free weights, and a valid case could be made that with proper usage, you'll get great results with either.

Remember: Anything you do is better than nothing you do.

Your best simplest introduction to the world of weight training is to focus on one body part or group for one half hour with 100 repetitions, or "reps". Your most important body parts are Chest, Back, Shoulders, Legs. The simplest, or best, exercises for you might be different than for some people, based on your body type, or previous injuries or other limitations, but the most bang for the buck, functionally, would be:

Legs: Squat or Leg Press
Chest: Bench Press or Chest Press or Fly
Shoulders: Military Press or Shoulder Press or Lateral Raise
Back: Pulldown or Row

Depending on what type of gym you go to or equipment you have, and working around your own physical limitations, pick something, anything, from the list. Unless you've done this before and have a good idea what amount of weight you can do safely, you might spend a week experimenting before you get started on this program.

Your 100 reps can actually be anything that works in a half hour. Sets x Reps: 10 x 10, 20 x 5, 4 x 25, 8 x 12. In fact, you could even set a timer on your phone (there are some pretty cool phone apps called "Tabata" or "Crossfit" timer that you can make work), and do 100 sets of 1 rep at 20 second intervals and still do this.

Remember: Anything will work for 3 weeks.

Every day except your one rest day, do the exercise from this list for that day in the same order for 100 total reps in one half hour, and keep the order for the rotation.

Example: Mon: Chest, Tue: Back, Wed: Shoulders, Thur: Legs, Fri: Chest, Sat: Back, Sun: Off

... and keep going.

You're going to ask about Abs or Core now, right? You're going to do that first as a warmup and not count it in the half hour. Just do three minutes of something that isn't a Circus Trick (if you're hanging on cables and rollers and look like something from Ka that's not appropriate for this phase of your training) before you start your main weight for the day. It's really that simple.

One of the most important aspects of this program is Logging. You need to Log your workouts.

Monday xx/xx/xxxx 7:43 AM:
Abs: 3 minutes 4 x 12 decline crunches
Chest Fly: 8 x 12 @ 25 lb dumbbells - 27:30 minutes

You need to do 100 reps. If you can't at the weight or resistance (machine setting) you've selected, go down a couple notches and continue to finish out the half hour. Keep track of it and do better next time. If it's too easy and you feel like you could do 200, add some and keep going. Experiment. In the above example, notice I got done quickly, meaning I didn't need as much rest, meaning I could probably go up to 27.5 lb weights, or maybe try 10 sets of 10 instead.

Keep at it for between 3 and 6 weeks. This will build a great foundation for other, more complicated or more intense programs.

Let me know how it goes.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Blogging and Disclaimer

I'm reading an awesome book right now, and I really am not using that term loosely or inappropriately in the least.

UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging by Scott Stratten. It's a really cool book primarily about Twitter, but as well other social media, for business. I do use Twitter for myself, and have purposely separated myself from my main source of income, for many reasons that I won't go into here.

Be that as it may, there's a really interesting recurring theme regarding FTC guidelines, and I thought I'd go into full disclosure mode, just in case.

At the time of this writing, I'm a Goal0 Elite Team Athlete. This means I get free stuff to haul around the world and test in odd environments. I review it and post pictures. While they do financially compensate some of their athletes, I am not one of them. Everything else I review or show or write about I paid for myself with my own money. If over time this changes, I'll be sure to mention it.

I am also an Amazon Affiliate. I put links to Amazon goods on my site, and if someone buys anything under an extremely complicated set of rules that are totally not in my favor, I get a few cents. AFAIK in the last 8 years or so I've been doing it, I've totaled about $3. For this reason I believe that I've put the link up so you can see more pictures and read more reviews using their bandwidth, and not that I'm going to make anything off it. Sometimes I put up an Amazon link for something I bought somewhere else, so buyer beware, shop around, and make the best choice for you.

That being said, I do really like Amazon and Endless, and love the idea of paying once for essentially free shipping for the rest of the year.

Having had "the discussion" with some business associates, I've had to rearrange my schedule for the next year, but have gone into intense training mode once more, and will share some of that with you over the next few weeks.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Aconcagua Training - Part Two

It's been a couple weeks since my last post about training for Aconcagua. In the meantime I've taken my running up a bit, having done one run a little over 4 miles on a snow-covered trail at 9300' near Keystone Colorado at 6 degrees wind chill. It was great. I've upped my intervals to 3 minutes run and 1 minute walk, and calculated my running pace at a 9:26 mile. Not great, but I haven't run in about 15 years, so I'll just get used to it slowly.

I mentioned weights the last time, and here's my general weight training plan in a nutshell. I have two alternating weight workouts.

1) Squat and Pull: full squats to just below parallel, bent over row, lat pull down, negative pull ups, Haney shrug.

2) Deadlift and Press: deadlift, narrow bench press, shoulder lateral.

In addition, I normally do some mix of goodmorning, leg extension, leg curl, hanging leg lift, ab crunch, buttup, oblique lift, straight leg deadlift, Russian twist, various planks, and a few others that escape me at the moment.

This might not seem like a lot, but I'm doing either 2 sets of 25 with a weight that makes me have to rest-pause in the second set (rest-pause from DC training so you take three breaths when you can't go on, then go on), or I'm doing 10 sets of 5 with a weight that makes the last two sets really suck. Overall it's a lot of volume, and is a challenge to recover from when doing daily. Yes, daily.

I prefer doing weights in the morning and recovering over the day. I'll do about 10 to 20 minutes on a stationary bike or elliptical, then go on about to the hour mark with weights.

For real cardio I've been trying to run 3 or more times a week, and I have an incline treadmill that goes up to 40% that I've been walking on at around 1.5 mph or less in mountain boots and pack (a speed that allows me to walk without hanging on or falling off). That gets me about 3,000' per hour pace. I try to do that 4 times a week too.

For fun I'll try to Ice Climb once a week, and indoor rock gym climb once a week. Sometimes more if I'm lucky. I also try to get in one outdoor hill climb if I can.

That's a hectic schedule, and it's slowly evolved into that as I've lost more and more fat and gotten into better and better fitness.

Some tips hints and "secrets".

I've always been good at the "posterior chain" as they say in power lifting parlance. This is the hamstrings and glutes. I'll do deadlifts any day of the week. I hate squats. I hate doing quads. To help focus my squats onto my quads, and help keep the bar up (I have disproportionately long arms and legs, and a short torso) I use a little device called a Manta Ray. It slips onto the bar relatively simply and is great. It helps stabilize the bar, pads your shoulders and keeps the bar higher, which for many people will transfer the motion to your quads. Get one if you're not currently doing bodyweight squats (and if you are doing 2x bodyweight squats, you certainly don't need any advice from me).

If you're older, as I am, you should consider your recovery needs very carefully. I used to ride my bike full throttle 30 miles a day 365 days a year 25 years ago. I can't do that now. You also should protect your joints. Find supplements and topical substances that work for you. Also, please do yourself a favor and avoid the trendy dynamic motion olympic lift stuff that's fading in popularity with each passing moment. Leave that to the 24 year olds trying to recapture their high school youthfulness. If you do a movement or motion that results in any level of joint pain, stop immediately. Rest that joint for a few days and see what movement does work. It might take a lot of trial and error.

I recommend three books.
"New Rules of Lifting" - Back when I had an ISSA personal trainer certification, I met Alwyn at a seminar and talked to him at length. He's a great coach, motivator, knows his stuff, and he's a real survivor. Seriously. This is good basic simple stuff.

"Starting Strength" - More basics. Getting stronger is basic. If you were ever curious about the correct way to stand and move during the most basic common traditional strength exercises, this is it. Don't quibble over silly nuances like some powerlifter coaches will do. Perfect this then find your own path.

"Keys to the Inner Universe" - And if you want to know every single last thing there is to know, beyond the basics. Way beyond the basics - this is the book. Thousands of weight training ideas. Something in this book will work for you. Spend the rest of your life trying them all.

These, again, are my first recommendations for three books you should have in your library if you're serious about training with weights. I'll probably post a few more thoughts and updates as I get closer to Aconcagua, and beyond as I prepare for the next adventure. If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, please feel free to share.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Kilimanjaro Summit Jan 1 2010

Just a set of links pointing back to the whole series of my trip report for my Seven Summits Quest - first in the series, Kilimanjaro Jan 1 2010 at 6:45 AM followed by a summary with trip advice for those who want to pursue their own Seven Summits Dream.

Day Zero - Arrival
Day One - Morning Leave Machame Gate
Day One - Afternoon Arrive Machame Camp
Day Two Arrive Shira Camp
Day Three Arrive Baranco Camp
Day Four Arrive Karanga Camp
Day Five Arrive Barafu Camp
Day Six Summit Day
Day Six and Seven Descend to Mweka Camp and out.
Kilimanjaro Closing Thoughts and Advice

I end with advice for future climbers about some of the negative aspects of hiring local guides and possible ways to deal with it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Aconcagua Training - Week One

From my awesome Kilimanjaro trip, I learned a lot about myself since I had seven days of relatively slow hiking to ponder. I'm in the process of adjusting my workout based on my observations, but the coolest thing is I came back at less than 190 pounds and have managed to stay there. I started this whole adventure around Thanksgiving of 2006 at 235 pounds, so today at 185 pounds I've managed to lose 50 pounds over the past 38 months and keep it off.

I had promised myself that I would start running again if I ever got below 190, so last week after recovering for about 8 days after returning from Kili I started running in intervals at 2 minute run and 1 minute walk. The first day I did 10 minutes (miscounted and had extra run minute in the middle) and the second I did 18 minutes. Not sure how far, but I feel like I'm doing a 10 minute mile pace.

Today I did a vertical hike on the hill above Canyon Road (Timpanogos foothills). I managed to go up 1000' in 31 minutes, which is fairly good considering I chose a harder path and got into steep kneedeep breakable crust snow the last 200'.

On the way down I worked my way over one ridge to the North for some almost uninterrupted downhill snow running (after the top 200' of deep breakable crust which isn't runnable). It was great.

I got in one weight workout so far (more later on that) and feel really weak. I'll have to keep that up all the way to Aconcagua takeoff (I normally taper weights to nothing about 3 weeks out from a trip and focus entirely on cardio).

Friday, January 15, 2010

Seven Summits Kilimanjaro Blog

My new blog about climbing specific to the Seven Summits will be found here:

I'll keep training, climbs and adventures not associated with the seven summits here on this blog.

Thank you Dick Bass.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Kilimanjaro Pics January 1 2010 Summit.


Click the above to see photos of the Kili Climb. I'll blog more about it later with details. Enjoy.