Another One Bites The Dust.

surge-and-vivoactiveSo I have used activity tackers and HR monitors for several years now and I have come to the conclusion that basically they all suck. Not because of the tech behind them or the amazing apps or wide range of use but rather because they are not built to last. I started out with a very simple Polar F11 HR monitor with the strap which was my first gripe, knowing that if the hospital can take my heart rate with a clamp on my finger why the hell do I have to wear a chest strap? It was very basic and worked OK until the chest strap battery went, and shortly after stopped working altogether. The HR reading were not consistent, you have to have the right amount of moisture to make it work and it was, for someone who was very fat at the time, very uncomfortable and kept rolling down my barrel of a body. I traded up some time later to a Suunto T6D which was my first foray into high level HR mapping with the RMR intervals (I am sure that’s wrong btw) and lots of other bells and whistles including a foot pod a GPS pod and a cadence monitor none of which I used. I think the Suunto was the one that didn’t have a stopwatch which seemed insane to me. Again, within about a year the chest strap gave up and I was left with a very ugly watch. I did like the Suunto software though and the online tracking. I then was lucky enough to score a Polar RS800CX HR monitor for about $200 from a store that was closing down and I was really happy with it until the band broke and once again the chest strap came apart even though I was far less fat at that point.

It was at that time that the new wrist worn HR readers were coming out, I had added a Garmin Vivofit to my arsenal and was wearing it to gauge what my all day activity profile was which was really excellent until after about 8 months the strap broke. I could probably have got a new strap since it’s a modular and quite clever system but by that time the HR monitors were out and I switched to a Fitbit. The strap broke on the fitbit after a few months and I graduated up to the Fitbit Charge HR which is what I used up until yesterday when I discovered it’s not charging any more. Not only that, the clip around the charging slot at the back has broken off so the clip wont clip. The band has held up OK but the watch itself is screwed.

So I am once again without an HR monitor or step counter.

Is this a problem?

I know that I have enjoyed the Fitbit systems, I used the food tracker last year to get to my best BF% ever and love to have all my stats in the dashboard. For $180 at Costco it’s not a huge amount but if you only get a year of use it’s a bit much. I do have to say that it’s a couple of dollars cheaper at Bestbuy. I could go all out and get the Surge or the Blaze but since I use the device not as a watch but as an activity tracker and I already wear a watch maybe the Charge HR is enough for me right now. One downside I have found is that the band does irritate my wrist at times. The Garmin never did but every Fitbit I have owned has irritated my skin to a degree.

I think at this point I will just suck it up and get another Charge HR but I will be sure to keep the receipt since the warranty apparently is a year. I am doing this because I believe that the more you know about what you are doing the better equipped you are to do something about it. Just knowing that I am getting 4000 steps a day on average lets me know that I should probably be adding a 20 minute walk to my program somewhere or a short set of sprints to get my numbers up. Seeing my sleep numbers is also a big part of why I like the Fitbit. I know I don’t sleep enough but knowing how much is enough should be a step towards fixing that.

30WOD Day 14 – DIY and Fitness. Build your gym.

garage chinup mark 2I felt like there were too many power snatches. I guess because it is a fairly new move for me I was a little disenchanted by having to to them twice in 4 days. Then again, I really need the practice apparently.

Tuesday I was off work and I installed the new chinup bar (Fitness Avenue on sale $14) in the garage as seen on the left. It’s a major upgrade from the existing one, and of course I overlooked one critical piece, it’s right above where I do my Oly lifts so the first time I did an overhead press I banged it with the bar. Not a problem though, I just have to move forward a little with the barbell. It’s solid as a rock and I don’t need a step ladder to get to it like the last one. So on Tuesday I christened it with a pullups and deadlifts workout that was not particularly hard:

10 rounds
5 Chinup
10 DL
10 DU

On Wednesday I was short on time due to coaching but still I managed to pull out Randy, a 75 power snatch for time workout. I then made the mistake of going on the Crossfit Ark site and seeing other times. I was slightly surprised that I was probably double what some of the others were, but then again I think that is what makes Crossfit boxes so successful, you are there in a group to push and help each other. It’s an intangible that makes a big difference. For the record with resting I made the 75 power snatches at 75# in just over 14 minutes. The fastest guy at Ark was 6 minutes… As an aside if I was to try 75 cleans I bet I would be able to almost match that time, but being that my snatching is a very new skill I maybe should not be so hard on myself.

Thankfully when I looked at the workout for today there were no snatches in sight. But also no cleans or presses or pushups.

Looks like I will be doing 5 chins every minute for 10 minutes then 70lb swings, 80 skips (since my DUs suck still) and 9 pullups since muscle ups are still on the list of things to learn.

Strict Chin-up (1-1-1-1-1)
Take 10 min to build to a 1RM weighted Chin-up

If you do not have 1 Chin-up perform 1 negative chin-up every min on the min for 10 min
Metcon (Time)


20 KB Swings @ 32kg/24kg
40 DU
3 MU
Metcon (Time)


20 KB Swings @ 24kg/16kg
80 single skips
9 Pull-ups

How do I feel? Well, a little fitter I suppose. I was complaining for quite a while there about missing HIIT and the “fitness” that it brings so I am happy to report that even with the break for the wedding that I am starting to return to a feeling of ability and fitness. Not quite the mobility that I felt while doing bootcamp, but getting there. It’s been 2 weeks of 30WOD, hopefully by the end I will have regained that agile feeling too…

Hitting My Stride – Finally

burpees0likes1I think I am finally finding a way to satisfy my cravings for certain workout types and managing to put to bed my fear that my intensity and time are lacking. So far I have managed to integrate HIIT rope work with each workout, I have started to get back into kettlebell workouts and I am testing my bootcamp type workouts before coaching. This means I am generally doing the following:

3 bootcamp style workouts – bodyweight, jumps, abs and functional movement
2 barbell workouts, maintaining my bench press workout and a multiple movement Olympic lift session or two
1 cardio or true HIIT workout with chinups, med ball cleans wallball etc and a bit of sprint or running work.

The schedule is still a bit random but it is tied down by the days that I do the bootcamp workouts. I have to say that adding back the functional movements like chin ups, burpees, vsnaps etc has brought back that feeling of mobility and fitness that I was missing after slipping down the Gym Rat slope after starting Body Beast in the Spring. I have gained quite a lot of size and strength but also I admit a few pounds of fat. So in turning back towards bodyweight workouts and HIIT I am going to start whittling away at that extra stored energy and hopefully be left with additional strength as protection for my ever present back aches. I do need to get a few pounds off and the sooner the better.

I did toy with the idea of getting back into a P90X or P90X2 schedule as a base for my workouts but until the extra crap is out of the basement I don’t really have space in front of the TV in order to do that. Next move then, get rid of the extra treadmill (I think my wife may have already sold it) and clear some space in the gym to enable the winter workouts to start. It’s premature I know but I think it’s going to take a little more planning than I think, and maybe a flat screen on the wall…

In addition, I did make some more purchases for the gym last week from Fitness Avenue (who have moved down the street from where they were), including:

40LB Kettlebell
Adjustable plyo box – heavy and sturdy as hell, full metal construction 16″ to 28″ height
55lb 5o ft sleeved undulation rope
45lb dumbbell
55lb dumbbell

The rope is fantastic, I have been donig undulations with it but even better is hanging it over my chin up bar and pulling it through like you would pull a heavy sled. If you wrap it twice it’s incredibly hard to pull through, great for grip strength and full back pumps!

R11D489 – What is an HIIT schedule

don't kid yourselfI should start by saying it’s not strictly HIIT at all, in fact calling it Crossfit would be more accurate and while there are people who would call Crossfit HIIT it only occasionally fills the description. You can google Crossfit and HIIT and see what I mean.

HIIT is short for High Intensity Interval Training. The fact that it is in interval based system should indicate that it will only occasionally cross paths with Crossfit. In fact, the Tabata system of training is the very definition of HIIT and it’s rarely used in Crossfit. However, it would be easy to convert any Crossfit workout into an HIIT workout, instead of doing AMRAP for 16 minutes let’s say, you would simply break it down into X rounds with Y break in between.

For my purposes I like the HIIT method because it brings the short break that I have been accustomed to from my gym days and it causes a variation in heart rate that is said to be the most beneficial. Before we can jump into the timing we first need to see what ingredients we have to work with for our schedule. This will include any movements you like, any equipment you can use and of course both full body involvement and cardio and abs and yoga during the cycle which is typically 5-8 days. The traditional weight training would have you believe that a full body 4 day split is what you need, giving you a day off for rest so that you work the same body part once every 5 days. If you are doing compound movements with multiple pivot points and cross training specific body parts with others (pullups and pushups for example) then this notion is not much use to you. Instead, you should be looking for something that will keep you interested but be varied enough and predictable enough that you can get used to it but not bored with it. You can dress a skeleton in a lot of ways, just look around you, and we will do the same with a framework in which to work and the ability to switch exercises if necessary (injury or otherwise).

Keep in mind that you will also be progressing, the following is a good example of an HIIT progressive schedule:

  • Week 1 — 10/20 x6 (10s work, 20s rest, 6 sets)
  • Week 2 — 15/15 x4
  • Week 3 — 10/20 x8
  • Week 4 — 15/15 x6
  • Week 5 — 20/10 x4
  • Week 6 — 15/15 x8
  • Week 7 — 20/10 x6
  • Week 8 — 20/10 x8

I know it doesn’t look like much but with a ten minute warm up and the adherence to the HIGH part of HIIT then you will find this plenty. Now you don’t have to stick to these timing lengths, you can go longer as long as you rest and can repeat.

So what do I want do to with this schedule of mine? Well there are things I want to include and I think a 5 day split is plenty.

Clean (Power or squat or hang in a pinch)
Push Press (or clean and press)
Kettlebell swings (KBs are great for warmups BTW)
Bench Press
Wallball / Heavy Ball / Heavy Log
Block Jumps
Weighted lunges / lunge walk

Also, I want to make sure that I cover off the basic types of movement, that is to say:

That’s all for now, I am actually working on the final schedule as you read this, I should have it up in a couple of days. Until then it’s the last of the DB Isolations with The Beast.


Treating Myself (well deserved)

AFTD225I have been out of the gym for several years now. I do home workouts, I improvise my own equipment and make do with anything I can to help me stay fit. Now with the Black Friday sales, it’s time to treat myself and get a couple of essential things for the house. One is a proper dumbbell rack, I have been using some OSB boards on my dip station to hold my dbs and it’s really not that safe. I also spent some money during the summer on a heavy bag which I used quite a lot in conjunction with Tapout XT and P90X Kenpo X. So I am finally getting a bag stand for it that will enable me to move my MMA workouts indoors for the winter. Also, my wife has been complaining about our treadmill being too loud. We looked at a decent one during the summer but it was just too expensive, and lo and behold on the Fitness Depot site today I find it’s HALF PRICE!!! our current treadmill is about 5 years old and it is very unhappy whenever I step on it. If I try to go slower than 3.5 miles an hour it judders and struggles no matter how well lubricated it or I am. So hopefully the new one which is rated up to 350lbs will be better. I figure if you have a treadmill for 5+ years and use it every week (which we probably have for at least 3 of those  years) then getting a new one every once in a while is justified, especially at half price!

Add to that some on sale knobby rollers and smaller items and you have Christmas early at our house. Besides, what is a better Christmas gift than investing in your health?

Merry Black Friday everyone…

Last Wednesday I did my short bootcamp workout as outlined last post, Thursday is my daughter’s swimming class and has become a day of rest around here. Friday  I did Olympic lifts again and on Saturday I spent a long time setting up the heavy bag holder and the dumbbell stand and then did a 30 minute heavy bag workout which is basically the same as the Mui Thai workout from Tapout XT. Lots of different striking, knees elbows etc. Sunday I did a Millennium workout which is 100 of 10 moves for 1000 rep total. Sounds easy but it’s a pain.
Front Kicks
Military pushups
V Snaps
Front lungesV Shoulder pushups
side crunch
Pop squats

It was a nightmare, seriously.

10.54-56 – The Weekend

For some reason I feel like I am running on empty lately. My weight is going nowhere and I am eating normally so I am curious as to why I feel so drained. Friday I actually squeezed in a workout and for the weekend I concentrated specifically on Olympic lifting. Sunday was a wash because we were out with friends and I was supposed to do Yoga but I played around in the pool instead.

Monday’s WOD was an interesting exercise. I wanted to see if we could do 1000 abs, it wasn’t that tough actually but ending with 100 squats was a killer. I will take a picture of the actual workout when I am back there tonight, but it was 9 types of abs work plus squats, 100 reps of each for a total of 1000 reps.

Today is cardio, the reason these entries are so short lately is because I am not working from my desk but rather at a remote location and the work is tough and relentless. I am upgrading the network and so I spend my whole day recabling racks of network drops, it’s no fun and is physically very challenging. I will be glad when it’s over and things can get back to normal.

For the record, I bought some new bumper plates and so I have been trying to increase my clean and press weight. I should be at bodyweight, but currently I am a way short of that goal. Hopefully the next couple of weeks will see me getting to bodyweight for deadlift and squat, then eventually for clean and then clean and press.

10.33 -10.36 – The Weekend Of Pain

It must have been the bootcamp, and if not, then surely the stretching and mobility we did on Thursday after bootcamp. Personally my money is on the plate weighted squats and lunges that we did. Whatever it was, my hamstrings and quads were on fire on Friday and Saturday. So much so, in fact, that I took Friday off and resorted to doing Fountain of Youth Yoga on Saturday. By Sunday my legs were OK and so as a bit of a cardio workout I decided to do some barbell clean and press with a light weight but large volume. I managed to count up to 10 reps and back down to 1 again making it 100 clean and press with a 95lb barbell. Sore? My shoulders and traps are sore today and of course it’s WOD day at the gym with potentially some more strength work this evening. No rest for the wicked I guess. Since I really don’t have much to say since the workouts are pretty self-explanatory I will show you what my new scale tells me.

It’s a Tanita BC549 Ironman Body Composition Monitor and basically it claims to produce all kinds of measurements when you step on the thing including:

Features and Specifications:

  • Weight
  • Body Fat %
  • Body Water %
  • Muscle Mass
  • Physique Rating
  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
  • Metabolic Age
  • Bone Mass
  • Visceral Fat Rating

Now I have long suspected that my old Tanita which just did bodyfat % was thrown off by hydration and that the cure for that would be to get a scale that does hydration levels too. I was sadly disappointed. If I step on my old scale before and after a workout I can have lost up to 5% body fat which of course is ridiculous. My thought was that the new scale would reflect the same bodyfat after the workout but a lower hydration level. I was not right to assume that. I did it with my new scale and the same thing happened, a massive drop in body fat and a slight drop in hydration. Anyway, I am not here to bash the scale for extreme conditions, I am going to do a long term study of my stats and see what my hydration and fat levels are like as I try to drop to 220lbs.

The first few days results are here:

Date June-30-12 July-01-12 July-02-12
Weight 232.6 231.2 231.2
Fat 19.4 19.5 19.4
Water 54.2 54.1 54.2
Muscle 178.2 177 178.2
Rating 6 6 6
BMR 2512 2594 2511
Age 29 30 29
Bone Mass 9.2 9 9.2
Visceral Fat 9 9 9

I am not sure exactly what some of the numbers mean, but as I stepped on the scale after my workout to see the hydration level effect I was told my age was 12… Interesting.

I will try and go over some of the definitions tomorrow…

R9D26 – Balance And Power, Phase 2 And Standing Desk Update

I’m going to start at the end first.

It’s not pretty, but click on the graphic to the left to see some interesting stats.

It’s been almost 7 months that I have been standing at my desk at work. There are a couple of things I have noticed that are a bit of a surprise to me.  First I think I am getting more work done. I don’t know if it is because I feel more alert and mentally active due to being physically active but whatever it is my productivity seems to be up. I have noted before that it’s “easier” to wander off and do things and that is no joke. Whenever I am home watching the TV or forced to sit during meetings I develop an aversion to getting up. It’s like the chair gets hold of me and drains my will to live. At least when I am standing at work it feels like I am ready to go do something, whatever it may be and that has had an effect on my mental outlook. I find myself more helpful, more willing to go out and assist with things, possibly because I don’t feel like I am glued to my desk but rather hovering near my desk in preparation for something to do. My posture, including my back ache is much improved and for someone with my history of back problems that is reason enough to maintain my standing. My leg ache was gone after a few days, I don’t have any issue doing my workouts in conjunction with standing and even though I thought my traps and shoulders would be a big problem, that issue never developed. I find that I do unconscious active stretching throughout the day and that helps to keep things moving. It’s been a major change to my work habits, but I think it has been a positive one. 2 weeks ago I had to spend 2 full days in a Kaizen event for work and sitting all day made me irritable and twitchy, I stood up whenever I could but it made me miserable to be in a chair all day. By the end of the second day I knew I had made the right decision to remain on my feet. You should try it, it’s not as tough as you may think. People may think it’s weird, but that’s OK, working out every day is weird to some people too. I am not the only one either, there are plenty of people here, here and here that are enjoying the benefits and some ingenious ways of building the desk here and here too.

(Who uses standing desks?) More people than I’d realized, especially techies! Former Twitter developer and founder of BankSimple Alex Payne. Creator of Instapaper Marco Arment. Podcaster extraordinaire Dan Benjamin. Novelist Philip Roth. Former U.S. Secretary of DefenseDonald Rumsfeld. Lifehacker editor Jason Fitzpatrick. Now, newly, my fellow San Diego techie Mitch Wagner. Who else?

Balance and Power is a workout that I have come to enjoy. I am a fan of balance work and I think this particular session does a great job of balancing the strength aspects with the coordination work to give a good all around workout. It’s not developing strength, but it’s developing the supporting mechanical systems to promote strength. I really enjoy it, it’s too bad it’s over for a while.

Phase 2 will start this week. I have bootcamp to lead Monday and Wednesday and I may try to kick off Chest+Back+Balance on Tuesday since my bootcamps this week are bodyweight then cardio. I am ready for phase 2, the building phase was good but I am eager to add some more challenging weight work to my schedule and kick it into high gear. I am a little frustrated with using my indoor chin up bar but there’s not much I can do. It will be above zero all week this week , so I may actually go out onto the deck whenever pullups are on the cards. I am fortunate that this winter has been mild so far and I really should have taken advantage of it more by getting out there. I did bring my gym rings indoors too and I should find a place to hang them. Lots to do!


R8D20-22 – Resting Kind Of Feeling

Although I was scheduled to do a rest week, I had decided I wouldn’t. Seems like subconsciously I didn’t like that decision and kind of took it easy this week. By taking it easy I mean:

Thursday: Fountain of Youth Yoga with Tony
Friday: Killer Cage Abs with kids at gym (below)
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Fran (a disgrace) and Olympic lifting practice.

I had bought myself some real bumper plates last week and was dying to use them so yesterday I took my olympic bar up to the garage and set up my new bumper plates. I felt like a real pro with real plates I have to tell you, there is something vaguely emasculating about using those little 25lb plates. I did some strict pressing, deadlifts, snatch, clean and press and thrusters before launching into Fran. I am going to be deliberately vague here and say that Fran took me over 10 minutes to complete, partly because of my discomfort with the chin up bar in the garage and partly because apparently I suck.


Thrusters with 95lbs
Chin ups

Killer Cage Abs:

4 suicides

on count:
in and out
switch bicycles
crunch hold

Full sit up
Full rainbow
vsnap no floor touch
Vsnap and pulse 4/8

New Kicks

They finally arrived in Canada, the New Balance Minimus zero drop barefoot running shoe. It’s just like the vibrams five fingers but without the snide comments about Gorilla feet.

Got mine on Saturday at Sportchek, they are awesome. So awesome they make you feel like you have ninja feet when you wear them.

I accidentally surprised several people today by walking past them in the hall, I guess they didn’t hear me coming.

I am ninja.