Saturday, February 5, 2011

02/05 Burpee Pullups

02/05 Burpee Pullups

For time:

100 burpee pullups

time: around 14:31
works: whole body
difficulty: 9
my effort: 9

These are killers. I was happy to get 100 done in 14:31. My goal is sub- 10:00 someday. Someday, a long time from now. Ha.

02/04 - Round Up

02/04 Round Up

For time:

21-18-15-12 reps of:

135-lb bench press
95-lb push press

source: I made it up
time: around 20:00
works: chest, shoulders, core, back
difficulty: 6
my effort: 8

Today's workout called for heavy weight snatch balances. Frankly, I'm not quote limber enough in my achilles yet - nor are my shoulders stable enough - to feel comfortable tossing weight like this over my head. I'm working up to it. So I substituted a quick workout that's kind of a round up of most of my major upper-body movements.

Not much to explain here. Obviously, there is no resting between sets, so as to maximize the cardio aspect of the workout and train the muscles to work when fatigued.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

02/02 - Skinned Shins

02/02 Skinned Shins

For time:

65-lb Goblet Squat, 30 reps
42" Box Jump, 30 reps
135-lb hang clean, 30 reps
65-lb Goblet Squat, 15 reps
42" Box Jump, 15 reps
135-lb hang clean, 15 reps

source: I made it up
time: around 25:00
works: legs, traps, back, core, endurance
difficulty: 8
my effort: 8

I made today's workout up, after deciding to skip crossfit's 1-1-1-1-1-1-1 overhead squat day. I'm still working in to the point where I feel comfortable (and flexible) enough to hoist a couple hundred pounds over my head and squat. I need better shoulder stability. Ergo, I subsituted a different workout.

I chose goblet squats because I wanted to try them out in the context of a workout. I think these are a great "beginning" squat, in that doing them for a while will help you develop your form in other squats - including overhead. I should have gone for a lot more than 65lbs, but live and learn. Try these if you're trying to work into good squatting form.

The box jumps are a fun way to work in some cardio and explosiveness. I chose a 42" box - the tallest available. I like the challenge of trying to propel myself that high off the ground after squatting. Beware, though. Missing a box jump that high has dire consequences for your shins (see photo).

Finally, I worked in a hang clean. This was a good clean-up exercise for the core, power and shoulders. A good way to round out the set.

These took me longer than I thought. I was originally going to shoot for 30-20-10 but had to shorten to 30-15, as I had to go to work.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

02/01 Thrusters & Pullups

02/01 Thrusters & Pullups

135 pound Thruster, 15 reps
35 pound weighted Pull-up, 15 reps
95 pound Thruster, 21 reps
20 pound weighted Pull-up, 21 reps
65 pound Thruster, 36 reps
36 Pull-ups

source: a crossfit workout
time: 13:21
works: legs, shoulders, back, core, endurance
difficulty: 9
my effort: 8

Today was the first day in my new AM workout routine. We moved last weekend, and my home is no longer 1/4 mile from the gym. Working out in the evening thus means that I do not get to see my son. Since exercise is about 4th or 5th on my list of life priorities (coming behind family, work, intellectual and spiritual pursuits, not in that order), it got moved to the morning. I've never been a big fan of morning workouts; it takes me a while to get loose and limber. Today was a rough day to start in the AM, but I pushed through.

The 135-lb thruster is a pretty heavy weight for me to rep 15, so I setted it into chunks. Maybe it was the fact that it was the first set of the day, but I felt a little creaky. The other two sets went much more smoothly, though I admit I was feeling the deadlifts from yesterday a little bit.

The pullups were not a problem. I've always liked weighted pullups, and did the first two sets as strict dead-hang. The last set (unweighted) I did as kipping pullups, so as to integrate the power movement (the hip-snap) into the exercise. I've started to adopt the philosophy that weighted pullups are for strength and should be dead-hang, and non-weighted are for power, and should be kipping. Try it out.

One thing I did note: I was a lot more hungry throughout the day.This proves the point that for those wanting to lose weight (of which I am not one), intense or prolonged exercise is often the wrong way to go. Non-conventional thinking, I know. But research has shown that exercise can actually be a contributing factor in weight gain for the average person...and it's not muscle. More on this in a future post.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Deadlifts & 1/4s

01/31/11 - Deadlifts & 1/4s

225-lb deadlifts, 21 reps
Sprint 400m
225-lb deadlifts, 18 reps
Sprint 400m
225-lb deadlifts, 15 reps
Sprint 400m
225-lb deadlifts, 12 reps
Sprint 400m

source: a crossfit workout
time: About 10 or 11 minutes
works: legs, endurance
difficulty: 7
my effort: 7

Today's workout was a back and forth tandem of deadlifts and quarter-mile runs.

As I've mentioned before, I have an advantage when it comes to deadlifts, as my lengthy frame allows me to lift more than a shorter athlete might be able to. I pay for it in areas like bench press, trust me.

So the deadlifts were easy for me; I probably should have increased the weight a bit. If you find these too easy, you can also work on starting from a lower position. In other words, approach the bar, and pull your butt down so that you're in a modified squat position in front of the bar. Remember not to allow your knees to pass over the bar. This makes the actual movement much more difficult. This also allows you to keep your back in a more proper position when lifting the weight.

I ran the quarters at a 6:00/mile pace. Probably could/should have gone faster. Oh well!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

01/23/11 - Dead Jumping

01/08/11 - Dead Jumping

Complete 3 rounds of:

275lb deadlift

50 rotation jump rope

20 box jumps, 30" box

source: modified from Crossfit
time: ??:??
works: legs, core, endurance
difficulty: 8
my effort: 8

I fell off the wagon over most of January, which I'm sure was very disappointing to my three readers. No, not the workout wagon. The blogging wagon. But I'm back, mostly because this is the way I keep track of how much I lifted the last time I did a workout. I'm hoping to keep it through the end of 2011 at least. We'll see.

Today's workout was modifed from a recent Crossfit post. I added box jumps to the mix, because I like trying to jump when I'm tired. Well, I don't like it. What I mean is that it seems like I'm usually called on to jump when I'm already tired. E.g. basketball, football, or hopping a fence while running from the cops. Just kidding. Anyway, I added the box jump component for that reason.

I forgot to keep time, which is annoying. It was in the 15-20 minute range.

I did this workout wearing a 20-lb weight vest. I felt that most on the box jumps, naturally.

Oh, one last thing. When doing deadlifts at this weight - or any weight, really - make sure to remember to breathe out when you're lifting up. You don't want to pop a hernia from straining.

image credit:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

01/08/11 - As I Lay Dying, or "Wall Crawls"

Complete 5 rounds of:

10 Wall Crawls

10 Toes to bar

20 24" box jumps

time: 45:01
works: shoulders, core, triceps, and a lot of other stuff
difficulty: 9
my effort: 7

Before today, I'd never heard of or seen a "wall crawl" before. In fact, I had a real hard time finding a good video to post of this exercise (actually, I never did), so I got my dad to shoot a few photos of my last set so I could show the progression. I wasn't sure how many of these I could do before I started today. I found I could do them, but I was slow and needed a lot of recovery between reps. I ended up setting 2-2-2-2-2.

Wall crawls had been defined like this: "For the wall climbs, start with your toes and chest on the deck, walk your feet up the wall until your chest touches the wall, and then descend back to the original position."

The progression looks like this:

It's hard, especially if you string your reps together. The other problem is, you progress through Toes-To-Bar's and Box Jumps so quickly that you end up back at the Wall Crawls really fast - way before you're ready. Or at least before I was. So I went though this workout, but it took me forever - 45 minutes. I think if I did it again I could cut quite a bit of time out of it now that I know how to pace. Something closer to 25-30 minutes.

Be careful when climbing: I sweat so much that I made the ground and the wall slick. I had to move around quite a bit to avoid sliding all over the place.

01/07/11 - Rankel

Complete as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:

225 pound Deadlift, 6 reps

7 Burpee pull-ups

10 Kettlebell swings, 2 pood

Run 200 meters

time: 20:00 - 5 rounds
works: Endurance, legs, core, back, shoulders
difficulty: 8
my effort: 9

This was a fun workout, but it was hard to complete at my gym, because I had to move around the whole facility to get the proper equipment.

Being 6'3", I have an advantage in the deadlift department, so I moved through each set of these very quickly.

The burpee pullups get tiring very fast. I was glad that the workout only called for 7 reps. It's difficult to maintain a good transition from the "pop-up" of the burpee into the immediate jump for the pullup. It's also hard finding a bar high enough to where a jump doesn't put me into a full pullup immediately. I found a bar that worked, but that's why I had to spend so much time walking around between exercises.

The KB swings in this sequence have a nasty habit of being more tiring than they initally seem, leaving you gassed when you get
to the sprints. That was the other thing that made me lose a lot of time on this workout: waiting for the treadmill to get set. It's not like a track, where you can immediately move into a 200m sprint. But it also likely gave me a bit more recovery time, so maybe that helped. Also, the treadmills are governed at 12.5 mph, which isn't very fast for a 1/2 lap sprint.

Take a crack at this routine; it's fun.

Here's a hint: you don't need a gym to do this. You can buy or make a sandbag trainer, and use it for the deads. Grab a tree branch for the pullups. Use the sandbag again for the KB swings, and then sprint a block and back.

(photo credit:

01/06/11 - Rest Day

Day off!

01/15/11 - Fran

For time:

21-15-9 sets of alternating:

95-lb thrusters


time: 7:30
works: Endurance, shoulders, core, glutes, hams, back, quads
difficulty: 9
my effort: 7

Fran is one of the classic benchmark workouts. The top athletes put in Fran times of 2:30-3 minutes; I'd be happy to be in the 4 minute range someday.

Today, I took it pretty easy, as I was on day four of my circuit routine, and I wasn't feeling great in general.

Time came in at 7:30. Not a bad way to close out an interval sequence, and go into a day of rest.

(image credit:

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Training in a fasted state

My friend, whom we'll called Aaron (because that's his name), recently posed a question regarding food intake and training. To quote indirectly: "what are your opinions on training in a fasted state"? Aaron is asking a good question that merits some thought. First, let's explain the question so we're all on the same page.

Aaron isn't talking about extended periods of fasting (i.e., he's not talking about working out during an extended multi-day fast). He also isn't (we hope) talking about running a marathon while in a fasted state. That would be insane. Rather, he's talking about timing his workout so that it coincides with a time in which he hasn't eaten anything beforehand for several hours (at least). For most people, this means working out first thing in the morning. Why would someone do this?

Typically, the idea of fasted training comes from the group of people that subscribe to a paleolithic type of diet. For those of you trying to remember where "paleo" falls in the evolutionary chain, don't fret. We're not getting into history here (too much). It's a way of eating that focuses on eating like a paleolithic human might have, in the idea that our bodies have not changed much since that point. I'll spare you the details (which you can find here if you're really interested), but suffice to say it's very low on any kind of grain-based carb.

In the Paleo way of thinking, a moderate to high level of carbohydrate intake (yes, even those "complex" ones) is believed to decrease the body's insulin sensitivity, opening the door for many potential health problems.

When you exercise, you deplete to some level the store of glycogen in your muscles. This immediately increases the body's sensitivity to insulin - which is a good thing.

The proposed benefit behind training in a fasted state is that you allow your body to empty itself more fully of its glyogen stores, increasing even more your insulin sensitivity and thus, your "health" and resistance to many potential diseases. In this sense, fasted training is a good thing and can be used occasionally.

However, there are pitfalls.

First, make sure to remember that there are vital parts of your body that depend on glucose (and glucose alone) for fuel. Like your brain. Now, that's not to say you're going to die if you burn through all your glucose in a fit of burpee glory. Your body has this wonderful process called gluconeogenesis, in which it will actually convert fat and protein stores into glucose for vital organ function. (This is also what happens when one embarks on an extended period of fasting, by the way.) This keeps you alive and well long after you've burned through that bagel you had for breakfast. However, when this process occurs, it can often lead to the release of the hormone cortisol (a stressor). If your cortisol levels are already increased (and many people's are, if they drink a lot of coffee, have a stressful job, don't sleep enough, etc), this additional hormone surge can lead to impotence, bad blood sugar levels and ironically, increased levels of fat.

In a nutshell, we can answer Aaron's question by saying that fasted training does have benefits, when paired with the proper diet. However, in terms of health, it's likely more important to control cortisol levels than it is to squeeze that last ounce of glucose from your muscle stores, and thus it's not something we recommend as a daily routine, especially if your workouts are intense and/or last more than 30-45 minutes. We already experience an increased insulin sensitivity with our regular workouts; use fasted training as a tool when necessary, but not as a regular training plan.

Plus, I hate working out in the morning. :)

01/04/11 - Burpees!

01/04/11 - Burpees!

For time:

10 sandbag swings
11 burpees
10 sandbag swings
12 burpees
10 sandbag swings
13 burpees
10 sandbag swings
14 burpees
10 sandbag swings
15 burpees
10 sandbag swings
16 burpees
10 sandbag swings
17 burpees
10 sandbag swings
18 burpees
10 sandbag swings
19 burpees
10 sandbag swings
20 burpees

time: 20:01
works: Endurance, hams, core, chest
difficulty: 9
my effort: 10

I took this workout from a site my wife has been getting workouts from. I got home too late to hit the gym, but wanted to get a good quick workout in. She had done this one today, and recommended it. It was good, but not quick. And it was hard, if you push through and don't rest between the sets.

The sandbag swing is a basic momentum movement. You don't have to have a sandbag; I attached a kettlebell to my weight vest, for a total of 30lbs of swinging weight. Grab something, throw it into a sack, and you have a weight. Just remember that when you drop it on the floor, you don't want to leave a mark!

The burpees are the hard part of this workout, especially as you get into the latter sets. Bleh.

My total time came to 20:01. I was trying to sub 20:00, but failed by 2 seconds. Guess I shouldn't have taken that one last breather....!

A note on This site presents some very good exercises, workouts, and ideas. I turned my wife on to it after I kept coming across it mentioned when researching exercises. However, the central character of the site dresses on the risque side. If that bothers you, proceed with caution.

Monday, January 3, 2011

01/03/11 Sprints, and OH squats...again


Three rounds for time of:

Run 400m

Overhead squat, 30 reps, 75 lbs

21 pullups

time: 21:42
works: Endurance, shoulders, core, glutes, hams, back
difficulty: 8
my effort: 8

This is a fun, quick workout. The runs are short enough to allow you to run at a quick pace the whole time, and the overhead squats give an element of "interesting" that keep things moving.

I ran the 400m rounds at 10mph, and setted the OH squats to groups of 10. I probably ended up resting more than I needed to between sets of squats; something to work on next time. The pullups were pretty quick and easy.

On another positive note, the OH squats felt good today. My shoulders felt good and steady, and I had a good solid up/down movement on each squat. Now to add more weight someday. No weight vest today. Thankfully.

Back for one more day tomorrow, and then we'll take Wednesday off.

photo credit:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

01/02/11 - "Jack"

Perform as many rounds as you can in 20 minutes:

Push press, 115lbs, 10 reps

Kettlebell swings, 1.5 pood, 10 reps

Box jumps, 24" box, 10 reps

time: 20 minutes
works: Endurance, shoulders, core, glutes, hams
difficulty: 9
my effort: 8

Though it wasn't called for, I decided to wear a weight vest for this workout. I wanted to add a few pounds to increase the difficulty of creating the explosive movements need for all three of these exercises. The 20lbs added a lot more difficulty than I had anticipated. I can usually get through 12-odd rounds of "Jack", but the vest kept my circuit reps at 7.5. With the added weight, I also noticed I had more trouble transitioning from the push presses to the KB swings.

Anyway, like I said, I got through 7.5 rounds. Not great, but a good benchmark with the vest.

(photo credit:

01/01/11 - Rest day

Happy New Year's!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

12/31/10 - Murph, abbreviated

For time:

Run one mile.

100 pullups

200 pushups

300 squats

Run another mile

Wear a weight vest, if you have one. I wore my 20lb vest.

time: roughly 40 minutes
works: Endurance, back, arms, chest, legs
difficulty: 9
my effort: 9

At first glance, this workout looked easy. Running is easy, and I've always been pretty good at pullups, pushups and squats. I was wrong. This was a very hard workout, and I didn't even have time to complete it all (the gym closed as I finished my last set of squats).

Of course, you can partition these lifts as needed. For example, my pullups ended up breaking out like this: 20-15-10-10-7-6-5-5-5-5-6-1. The weight vest really added a large degree of difficulty to these for me. Normally, I could have setted about 25-23-20-20-12. Not so here. So adjust your sets as necessary.

I ended up super-setting the pushups and squats, due to the early closing time of the gym. In other words, instead of doing staight sets of 200 pushups and then 300 squats, I did rotating sets of 20 pushups and then 40 squats. This gave my muscle groups rest, but made the workout very tiring, as the actual aerobic resting time was very short. After I was finished with this, I must have been looking pretty pathetic, as the girl at the front desk asked me "are you ok?"

I wanted to finish with a thought on "setting" long reps of any movement. In light of the idea of maximizing effort, one might be tempted to try and "max out" each set of reps. Let's say your PR on pullups is 17. When working through a long set like today's proscribed 100 pullups, you might be tempted to just go for it, and max out each set. Some might disagree with me, but I think that you're better served by stopping a rep or two short of failure. The reason for this is that the whole point of the exercise is to perform the maximum number of proper pullups in the shortest time. When you tax your muscles to failure, you are forced to increase the amount of rest time between each set, to allow your muscles to recover to the point where you can perform another rep. This increases the amount of rest required in the long set overall. Now, I'm not suggesting that training to failure is always a bad thing. As I approach the end of each long set, I allow myself to rep closer to failure in each set, until I'm almost positive that the last rep I perform is the last rep I could manage in that set. In other words, you want to aim to end in failure.

This approach is for long sets only; it would not apply to short sets (say, 3 sets of 10) where you are taking a minute or two of rest between each set. To properly recruit your muscles in that type of set, you do want to aim to achieve failure (with the help of a spotter, if you're using weights) each set.

Happy New Year!

(photo credit:


Rest day. Made shwarma and hummus.