R11D40-43: Another Weekend Away Plus Back Stretches

This travelling is getting tedious and honestly I am losing my enthusiasm for hotel beds and pools. This weekend we were out in Peterborough where the best hotel room in the whole town was only $129. On Friday I rested and coached 3 hours but on Saturday before we left I managed to squeeze in a bench workout with barbell and dumbbell because my back was a little sore. It was destined to get worse as the days passed too. I benched up to 235lbs around 10 sets total with chasers of dumbbell presses and flies. Sunday after we returned I was going to do some Olympic lifting but again my back was a little tender and after I had finished my 5 sets of 5 deadlifts I decided to hop on the treadmill and ran a mile pretty much without stopping (although my pace was rather pedestrian). My ITB was tight and sore, and I have a feeling that stretching it is what is causing my back pain. I have to say here that I am a little confused at why this happens, I remember following the Supple Leopard in stretching my ITB and hips before my recent surgery and I remember having nothing but acute hip pain for months after moving into hip stretches. I was better for it relating to my back but my hips were in agony. Not only that, but after being laid up for a few days after surgery when I started walking again it was my hips that gave me the most pain. I have also noted that I don’t have any stretching instructions in this blog, at least not any that are easy to locate so I am going to try and put together a few of my favourite stretches, or maybe find where I have done it before and re-brand the page. Then Monday which was Family Day I once again opted to stay off my back and it was even more sore than before up into the mid right side feeling like a muscle pull more than anything. I did manage to get about 30 minutes of heavy bag work done with some direction from P90X3 MMX.

I am often asked about back pain, having had 2 back surgeries I am what you would consider to be experienced with it. The first thing I do is recommend stretching the ITB and hamstrings and hips in order to try and release whatever compression surrounds the area. How to do that? Do this:
This is one of the best for my back and hips. It does make loud cracking noises in my spine however and you should do it every day… you should do all of them every day really.

Very simple stretch to help loosen up the back and abdominals

Very good for tight hamstrings that can cause all kinds of back problems

More advanced for hips, this is actually quite hard if you are male

Another very good stretch for hips and sciatic problems. You should feel the stretch in the buttock and hip of the leg that is crossed over, in this case the left leg.

Very basic, can be done in conjunction with an arching motion every time you stand up

A little more difficult for some, and also hard to control but once you can do it, it is very effective.


Be careful with this if you have pinched nerves, but the leg in front takes the load off the spine somewhat.

Cat stretch, also can be alternated with seal stretch where from the starting position you drop your hips to the floor and keep your arms straight.

Swiss army knife stretch, very good for hips and back

Basic and similar to the front bend, but this is a standing version of the cat stretch / seal stretch.



R11D39 – P90X3 Accelerator and Decelerator

Laguna-06-Superbike-startTuesday I went back to my old gym for the yearly bring a friend week and it was just how I remembered it, ridiculous teens doing things that are dangerous and stupid and old men doing things that are about as beneficial as the vegan lifestyle. Two kids in particular were doing kettlebell “swings” by lifting the bell like a front raise and holding it overhead like some jungle head hunter would display the heads of it’s victims. Obvioulsy the staff either don’t care or don’t know the difference, but to be honest, it really devalues the gym and poses a danger to the other users. However, most of the other users were women cruising the treadmills and ellipticals in an oblivious cardio coma like prisoners chained to a torture device. It was pretty grim if I am honest. I did manage to get some shoulder work done, mostly because my basement ceiling is too low to do presses so I made the most of that and also used the cable machine to do pulllups since my pullup bar on the deck has 3 feet of snow underneath it. I didn’t do cable pullups… not sure what they would be, but the pullup grips are positioned in the middle of the crossover beams on the cable machine. Anyway, I got a decent workout but it’s never going to be enough to get me to go back.

Wednesday I did Accelerator and Thursday I did Decelerator and to be honest I am having a hard time remembering the difference. I think the Accelerator was the one with legs and pushups while the Decelerator was legs and pullups. Accelerator was more like the old plyo with chest thrown in but Decelerator was more like eccentric movements with pullups. Both were cardio workouts at their heart and were OK, not great, but OK. I still think that P90X should try and stay away from the cardio workouts and leave them to Shaun T. In fact, what would be really good would be if they would just put the P90X /2 /3 workouts with Insanity and be done with it.

I am not really seeing much change with my weight as of yet, I am down maybe a couple of pounds but I am feeling a whole lot better. Not only that, my strength is back and I am sure I have probably just about finished filling out my muscles to their capacity. Next week I am only working 2 days and it’s my birthday week so I will be taking it easy and getting in as many workouts as I can and I may even be able to get to my Crossfit Gym! It may be Oly lifting tonight if I have the time.


R11D37 – Weekend Away

niagara snowWe had a night away on Friday in Niagara Falls at the Marriott Fallsview. It was a nice hotel but because it was 700 below with the wind and blowing a gale the fact that it wasn’t actually attached to the casino was a little inconvenient. We did take a cab one way but my decision to walk home via the front of the casino meant I was in the wind the whole way, I seriously thought I was going to get hypothermia or frost bite since I had no hat. Anyway, the rooms are very nice, we had a falls view with 2 queens which was perfect. The bathroom was nice, a single function rain type shower head into a tub. The TV was a big flat screen which is expected nowadays I suppose and the place was overall very clean. We got $25 coupons for Milestones so we went there and had dinner (Steak and yam fries) which was pretty good, it is also noteworthy that we had another coupon for a free breakfast buffet and $25 casino play cash. Not a bad value at all since we only paid $149 for the room.

Before we went to dinner I went to the gym which was small but nice, some dumbbells and a large rack type pulley gym. Also, several treadmills and ellipticals. My workout was largely dumbbells something like this:

25 lb db 10 press 10 pullups
30 lb db 10 press 10 pullups
35 lb db 10 press 10 pullups
40 lb db 10 press 10 pullups
45 lb db 10 press 10 pullups
50 lb db 10 press 10 pullups

25 lb 10 fly 10 cable lat straight arm pulldown
30 lb 10 fly 10 cable lat straight arm pulldown
35 lb 10 fly 10 cable lat straight arm pulldown
40 lb 10 fly 10 cable lat straight arm pulldown

Finish with some low cable chest fly pulling up to head height

Saturday after we got home I decided to do an RKC workout with my 55lb KB as follows:

Clean and press, alternating arms

Doesn’t seem like much, but it killed me to do the cleans from the floor and I think I was not smart not to use shoes, it’s been a long time since I did RKC with no shoes and it’s different than barbell cleans for your feet.

Monday I took off since today I am supposed to be going back to my old gym (Super Secret Hideout Gym) on a guest pass with my cat.

Saw the La Rocca Cake van again today and I was reminded how much their logo reminds me of something…

larocca closeenough


R11D9 – Best Laid Plans

osmin diet The return of the ice war.

This time it was the driveway, a double wide strip of 5 inch thick ice just waiting to be carved apart with the ice breaker and hauled BY HAND out of the way. The ice pieces were too heavy to lift with my snow shovel so as I broke apart the sheets I had to carry or throw the massive chunks off to the side. It took about 50 minutes and each time I checked my heart rate (since I knew it was going to be a workout) I was up above 140. It is strange that I am happy to prove myself in the real world now, whereas during my gym days I would only consider actual weight lifting as exercise and everything else was just a waste of time. Oh how my life has changed since then. One phrase that always goes through my head is hearing Osmin Hernandez shouting THE WORLD IS YOUR GYM and although he is a little crazy at times I completely agree with his philosophy. Anyone who says they can’t work out because they can’t get to the gym needs a good smack to the forehead. Yesterday’s workout equipment was an ice breaking blade and a snow shovel. It takes a lot to get out of the gym mindset and even more difficult than getting out of the gym is the notion that you can actually get fit at home with or without a DVD set to motivate you. Coming from a gym rat mindset makes you think that you need “proper” equipment to work out with and the idea that you can get a great full body workout without ANY equipment is insane. Truth is that you don’t need anything to get in shape except a positive attitude and a little creativity. Every neighbourhood in Canada now has access to 2 or 3 parks with monkey bars, climbing frames etc all of which are great for workouts. Just make sure you are alone or people will get the wrong idea.

osmin friend

The other problem is a very common one among people who already have the right attitude, they have the knowledge and they may even have some kettlebells, bumper plates and an Olympic bar at home but their problem is that they can’t train themselves. It’s the toughest thing in the world to be your own trainer and for the most part it is not possible. However, there is a way to overcome this and that is to write your plan for yourself as if you were writing it for a client or friend and then follow it to the letter. Make it up during your off hours when you can think clearly about body part rotation, time allotment, rest etc. and that way you don’t end up standing in your basement at workout time thinking “hmm… what should I do today…”.

I know this because I have coached many sports, from rugby to gymnastics and I have been a certified personal trainer for 20 years now, since before everyone thought they could do it and I am smart enough and humble enough to know that I cannot coach myself. That is part of the reason that I keep this blog, not only to record my progress but also to give me the chance to think about where I am and what I need to do next. I won’t go home at the end of the day not knowing what I SHOULD do. The only thing that will derail my achieving what I have planned is if there is something else there to take it’s place like last night. There is also a rest day window that I have. Once I have worked out 4 days straight the window is open and if I get into a situation where I can’t get a workout in due to time constraints or other reasons then I can take a day without guilt and move the planned workout to the next day. I have things in place that mean whatever happens I am able to adapt and make the day a success. That is what it takes to at least have some degree of success in coaching yourself, but believe me, it’s not a walk in the park. The biggest problem is that you will always let yourself off with doing less than you would if you were training someone else. You have to learn to drive yourself as hard as you can while you are in pain and that’s the problem, it takes almost superhuman dedication not to quit when you are hurting but believe me, the one thing that the truly successful people will do is ignore the voice in their head and get the work done.

R11D5-7 – The Weekend

shaun-t-not-impressedI completed the Olympic lifting schedule. Sticking with my 5×5 routine of deadlifts, power cleans and squats. Since it was my first time back I stuck with the 95lb bar and checked my form. The goal is to get back up to 135 as soon as possible for everything and then work back to 200+ by the summer. A 200lb clean is nothing to sneeze at, but I really should be aiming for a 300lb deadlift and squat, the only problem is that I don’t have a squat rack so that’s an issue. That said, I often get asked by people WHY I work out like I do and as often as I do, and my answer is not necessarily what they expect. I suppose they want me to tell them about the health benefits and so on but really all I want long term is to be able to get through my life with the ability to take on any challenges I may face. For example, on Saturday I had to clear the snow and ice off my upper deck which is probably about 400sf. The ice was about 5 inches think in places and broke off in chunks weighing upwards of 60lbs each. I took particular enjoyment out of hurling these massive sheets of ice off the balcony down on to the lawn below and in total I probably shovelled and tossed 600lbs+ of ice off that deck. It took me about 45 minutes but I am happy to report that I was not sore the next day and regardless of the awkward size and shape of the blocks I was able to handle them with ease. That’s the reason I work out. So if I come up against a high demand incident I can blow through it rather than have a heart attack trying to do something I am not prepared for. Of course, being healthy and living a long life are important, but those are very ethereal goals and personally I like to have something more concrete to push against. Tony Horton calls it being durable and less prone to injury and at my age I tend to agree that being able to handle high demand situations is critical. It doesn’t matter if it’s self inflicted like my deck clearing or accidental like having to shovel yourself out of a ditch, either way I don’t want to be the guy who has a coronary in the snow.

Which brings me to Sunday where I picked T25 Total Body Circuit as my opponent and was forced to take back everything I had said last week about T25 being too easy. This was a tough workout. Now let me state that if I was in the kind of shape I was at this time last year then maybe this wouldn’t have been so hard and if I compare it to the bootcamps that I was running last year it’s a distant second. However, current state dictates that I report what it was I felt and I have to admit nausea came into it a little at the end. I was sweating like a thief and  at one point I actually had to rest during the burnout at the end. It was a little shameful and extremely motivating to know just how far away from my peak I am and to know that as painful as it was, it’s a step in the right direction. It was, however, a very enjoyable workout and one that I think I would like to repeat (actually it’s the only one so far that I think I would enjoy a second time). It’s now Monday and I have done 7 days straight, and since I am not anywhere near burnout yet I think I will continue until I require a day off through time constraints or simple rest requirement. I will try to hit a P90X3 workout tonight like I did the other day (likely CVX since I want to save the chinups).

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.

Update and detail on my “bootcamp” days

20131104_174003Friday I did a short bootcamp with the kids, if only to get them to do 45 seconds on non stop work. It was a bit of a farce but at least I had my CIT to keep an eye on them.
Saturday I busted out the Kettlebells and did a shoulder workout, so not a lot of swings but sets of:
High pulls
Front raise
Strict press – From unrotated position
Rack press – from rack position

Sunday I was planning to do something but time got the best of me and I decided to take the day off. That motivated me to do a heavier Olympic lift workout on Monday with 7 sets of each deadlifts and clean with deadlift alternating. I am working up to 135 still but it’s looking good for this week. At least I know I can go up to 200 for deadlift without much effort so that’s one thing. Tuesday I did Body Beast Bulk Chest which I am really enjoying. So much that I might actually dive in and do the whole thing with Oly lifting as a sub for back days.

What exactly is a “short bootcamp” that I keep referring to? Well, it’s a 20-30 minute workout that is bodyweight oriented and comprised of legs, abs, chest, arms and shoulders.

Here’s an example of what it would look like on a typical day:

Sets of 10, each section is non stop.

front lunge

step out pushup
diamond pushup
power crunch
Pop squats
back lunge front kick

frog jump
clapping pushup
V pushup (shoulders)
bicycle switch
roll to boat hold

2-4-6-8-10-8-6-4-2 (50 reps)

lunge switch (MK)





Super 7 It Was…

Original Lucky 7 from Body Beast:

Push Up + Clean + Squat:
Deadlift + Bent-Over Row:
Skull Crusher + Press + Crunch:
Curl + Military Press + EZ Squat:
Delt Raise + Reverse Lunge:
Lat Oblique Twist:
Upright Row + Calf Raise:

Super 7 for the kids:

Pushup – shoulder touch – vsnap
Squat – MK Switch – front lunge
Military – squat – pullup
Frog jump- squat thrust – hop out pushup
(with weights bars – 14 and 24lb)
curl + reverse press
high pull + front raise
back squat + press

Tuesday I took off to rest for the upcoming few days I knew I would be working out. Wednesday I participated with the girls at gym doing some of the Super 7 workout above. On Thursday I was very short on time but I did another heavier Olympic workout involving Deadlifts and Cleans something like this:

DL – 5 5 10 10 10 10 5
Clean – 5 5 5 5 5 5 5

Today I am hoping to do some cardio bootcamp stuff at gym but I guess we will see, I am trying to have weekends as heavy Oly lift and kettlebell or bench days so maybe a lighter weight free night tonight will put me in a better position to get back to the 135lb cleans again. If my back holds up, I am hooping to get back to a 200lb deadlift and 175lb clean by the New Year. If I can get back to a bodyweight deadlift, bench and shoulder press with a reasonable clean I will be  happy. Not so sure I can get back to a 235lb shoulder press but I guess we will see.

Lucky 7. Make That Super 7.

Lucky-7Body Beast is creeping into my life. I did the Lucky 7 workout a couple of days ago and yesterday I took off but I really wanted to do a BB shoulder workout.

Lucky 7 was actually pretty good. I did it without really knowing what I was in for except I needed a quick whole body thing.

Here is the workout, I apologize I stole this from somewhere but I have posted it whole so that the original owner can claim right and credit. I am going to make a similar workout for the gymnasts tonight since my assistant who has a concussion probably won’t be participating, it will be Super 7 since that’s our local lottery name around these parts.

Push Up + Clean + Squat:

For this sequence, you’ll use the EZ bar with plates.  You may need to adjust your weight after you see how much weight you can handle.  to begin, set the EZ bar on the floor.  You’ll do a push up above the bar: first with one arm in front (other arm behind), then the other.  Right away, you’ll grab your EZ bar, stand up, and do a “clean lift” up to your shoulders; then holding it in that position, you’ll perform a squat.

You’ll do this sequence in a pyramid set: 7 rounds.  So what that means is the first time, you’ll do one rep of each move: the second time, you’ll do two reps each move; third time, three reps… etc.  You’ll keep going without a break until you get to seven reps each move.  That’s a lot of reps!!!

Deadlift + Bent-Over Row:

Staying with your EZ bar, you’ll keep your legs straight, and perform a deadlift by lowering the weight down towards the floor while keeping your arms and back straight.  Right away, you’ll bend at your waist (keeping your back straight), and perform bent-over rows by pulling your elbows towards the ceiling.  Same pyramid as before: one rep each the first time, two the second, three the third… all the way to seven!

Skull Crusher + Press + Crunch:

Laying on the floor, you’ll press your EZ bar above your head.  Keeping your elbows straight up into the air, you’ll slowly lower the bar towards your forehead, then raise it back up.  Next, you’ll do a press with the bar.  Finally, you’ll hold the weight in the air, and perfom a crunch.  And you know the drill: seven rounds, building up to seven reps!

Curl + Military Press + EZ Squat:

Using the EZ bar, you’ll stand and perform a curl to work your biceps.  Without lowering the weight, you’ll immediately do a press with the weight above your head.  THEN, keeping the weight at your shoulders, you’ll do a squat.  Build up to seven!!!

Delt Raise + Reverse Lunge:

As Sagi prepares for this move, he makes a big deal about lowering the amount of weight you’re using on your EZ bar.  I would listen to him if I were you :)  This move is NO JOKE.  Get ready!

Keeping your arms straight, you’ll raise the bar up straight in front of you, keeping your palms facing up.  Next, you’ll perform a reverse lunge, alternating legs.  As you increase the reps for the pyramid, you’ll do all of the reps with one leg, before switching to the other.  THIS IS TOUGH.  Make sure you pick a weight that you can finish with!

Lat Oblique Twist:

You’ll keep using your EZ bar for this move; however, you’ll remove one weight, so that you only have a weight on one side.  You’ll then stand the bar up on an end, keeping the side with the weight up in the air.  You’ll stand with the bar vertical in front of you, the end with no weight on the floor.  You’ll then lunge and hold to one side, hold it for a few seconds, then to the other side.  As you increase up the pyramid, you’ll just hold it longer; you’ll only do 7 total reps on each side.

Upright Row + Calf Raise:

Put both weights back on your EZ Bar, and hold the bar in front of you.  You’ll perform an upright row by gripping the bar in the middle, then bringing it up to your chin, keeping your elbows high.  Holding the bar by your chin, you’ll then perform calf raises.  Build that pyramid!!

Leaning Towards Body Beast and Longevity Revealed

costcoxmasI did another Body Beast workout last night, the Chest Build workout. It was pretty short, not that brutal and I managed to work in my bench to make sure I had heavy enough weight for the presses. I am not a huge fan of the guy who runs the workouts but as of now I don’t throw up in my mouth every time I see him any more, so there’s that.

After Millennium Bronze on Thursday I took Friday off so that my weekend workouts would be effective and also because at the end of training on Friday I was just too tired to attempt the Millenium Silver I had outlined for the kids. For the record, they got to round 5 in 25 minutes. It’s tough.

Saturday I spent a lot of the day cleaning up the house and the garage again getting ready for Christmas. Nothing exercise worthy so I did an Olympic lift session that involved DL, clean and high pulls going from 75lbs up to 115lbs in preparation to move up to 135 for my DL and clean again. I would like to workout with 155 or 165lbs for both DL and clean regularly, and then up the DL to 225 for heavy days. Sunday I went to Costco and bought a Christmas tree that has lights that can do all sorts of funky stuff so we took time to decorate that and then I did the Body beast Chest workout. Tonight is gymnastics, and I think I will run a bootcamp for 30 minutes to get a bit of cardio into them (and me).

Here as some food for thought is an interesting article on the whole “people live longer nowadays” thing. Seems like we all remember Grandparents who were tough old warriors, fact is, they were all like that, mostly due to their food and activity.