R5D62 – Grass Fed Beef and Chest Day

Mark’s Daily Apple had a good article yesterday about the benefits and differences with grass fed beef. We all know, to some degree, that the massive feed lots don’t produce the healthiest meat and that grass fed is the way to go but what does it really mean? Some of the things we tell ourselves and each other are ingrained but can use some inspection, and MDA does a great job of that on the beef front. The whole article can be found here and the link to Mark’s blog is here. I like his site because he often takes time to answer questions that most of us find relevant and in a simple way. The guy could be taken to task about his past with the Beachbody supplements thing but then again, read his site for a while and you will quickly realize he knows his stuff! I also found a cool article on making sausages

I also find it amusing that when I speak with people about not eating grains and tell them that their diet is the same diet they feed cattle to make them gain 800lbs in a few months the little light goes on over their heads. Doesn’t mean they will stop eating donuts, but at least it gives them food for thought.

Yesterday was chest day and I found myself thinking that my workouts are a bit one dimensional at the moment. I am really enjoying the KB challenge but it does leave a bit to be desired on the variety front especially if you don’t take the time to do something interesting during your variety days. Maybe it is because I was so excited about yesterday’s news regarding the Asylum or just that since I was sick I have been only doing the RKC and not adding extra work. Maybe I am getting excited at the prospect of spring and the fact that I am going to be able to work out outside and do my sprints around the 600m track that is my neighbourhood I am not sure. What I do know is that I need to get my creative side going again and maybe get back to picking the WOD as my variety day so I don’t lose my Crossfit touch. For my chest day it was pretty sad actually, I did a few chest presses with the KBs (45 and 70) plus some pullovers and then did 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 on the bench with 205lbs. It wasn’t a lot of work, but since I was coaching and was short on time, it worked out fine. I should have done dips and some tricep work too, I will have to address that at a later date.

Variety Is The Spice Of Life (and the pain in my chest)

Variety day went off almost as planned, it was a chest-centric WOD like this:

For time:

  • 20 Bench chest extension (45lb KB)
  • 30 bench press (205lb)
  • 40 V-Snaps not Abmat sit-ups
  • 50 squats
  • 20 bench press (205lb)
  • 50 squats
  • 40 V-Snaps not Abmat sit-ups
  • 30 bench press (205lb)
  • 20 Bench chest extension (45lb KB)

Since the 70lb KB was too much to manhandle for the chest extensions, I ended up using the 45. It was not for lack of trying and I almost wound up with a 70lb brain surgery. The bench wasn’t easy either and I realize that doing this for time was not a mistake, but rather a completely different beast than taking my time and working until I was done. That said, there was simply no way that I was able to get the weights changed and attempt to do 20 255lb bench presses this time around. I know I can do it, just not sandwiched in between all the rest of the movements. The whole thing took 18 gut busting minutes and since I very rarely do any kind of abdominal work, the situps (or vsnaps in this case) were a killer too. I don’t know what 18 minutes is like for this, I am sure if I do it again I would do better, so maybe I will wait until then to pass judgement.

Saturday at 11pm I was at work for a scheduled network downtime which lasted until 630am. Not only that, driving there in a huge blizzard when the roads weren’t plowed was ridiculously dangerous. Anyway, I was so tired I skipped heavy day and since at this point (as stated several times) the workouts are pretty much the same, I am not doing a catch up day, just moving on. Sunday, on the couch watching Liverpool gloriously dismantle Manchester United I was filled with a warm glow and a searing pain in my abs and chest. That’s timed WOD’s for you though, I love them, but I hate them!

R5D35/37 – Medium Day / Rest Day/ More Variety

Medium day again for Wednesday which is getting better and the 50 swings, although still disconcerting, are getting done. 8 minutes worth this time. We also added an extra ladder, so we are at 4.

C&P left 1
C&P right 1
Pull Up 1
C&P left 2
C&P right 2
Pull Up 2
C&P left 3
C&P right 3
Pull Up 3
The pullups have gone from 5 to the Rx number simply because I am doing strict to the chest pull ups not the beat-n-cheat kind.

Rest 1-2 min repeat another 3x for a total of 4 ladders.

50 swings with 20 seconds rest between sets for a total of 8 minutes.

Thursday I decided to take as rest day, I had to be at coaching early and since I know on Friday I will be home early with plenty of time before my 6pm coaching gig it made sense to take Thursday off and use Friday as my variety day.

chest_musclesVariety this time is a bench day for me but I think this time I will work a light (225lb) bench into the following WOD:

For time:

  • 20 Bench chest extension (70lb KB)
  • 30 bench press (205lb)
  • 40 Abmat sit-ups
  • 50 squats
  • 20 bench press (255lb)
  • 50 squats
  • 40 Abmat sit-ups
  • 30 bench press (205lb)
  • 20 Bench chest extension (70lb KB)

Some people may say that the laying chest extension is actually a lat exercise and to a degree they are correct, the lats and pecs are involved with the movement which qualifies it for Crossfit almost perfectly.

R5D23 – Chest Blast

arnold-chestI hit a couple of walls today during my workout which was really weird. I think I was a little short on calories during the day and ran out of juice for my bench workout. Oddly enough I had a feeling I wasn’t going to be up for benching my weight but also wanted to try something a little different.

The Plan:
5x 135# for 10 reps plus 10 dips

The Reality:
3x 135# for 10 reps plus a very sketchy 10 dips

Followed by:

3x 10 regular bench + 10 close grip bench @135#
20 push ups every minute on the minute

I managed to struggle through the bench even though it was only 135lbs and was still feeling a bit frustrated with my obvious lack of strength (couple that with the fact I weighed in a couple of pounds up this morning which only added to my psychological discomfort) so when I got to the push ups I decided I would go until I failed.

That took 8 rounds.

Colour me unimpressed with myself today, however, I feel like I got a great workout, even if it took until I couldn’t get off the floor to get there.

R4 D42 – P90X Chest and Triceps

I was forced to hurry today but even so without the shoulders part of the chest, triceps and shoulders routine the entire workout is around 30 minutes. I have made a habit of subbing dips for some of the lame tricep stuff since doing endless extensions with 35lbs isn’t going to do much. Since I had made my own dip station during the summer it is getting a real workout these days. I still value push ups as a workout tool, regardless of how often you do them, they are still one of the best overall chest cage workouts out there. Even with the limited variations that Tony provides, he gives you ideas to try and variations to make up on your own that will give almost endless possibilities. The triceps however remain an issue. The problem is that the triceps are far stronger than anyone gives them credit for and doing extensions with dumbbells simply isn’t good enough. You need close grip bench, dips or heavy pushdowns to get a decent tricep workout.

Round 4 Day 16 – Gym Chest and Back

I resolved to make this a tough but fairly quick workout but mainly to make it repeatable. It turned out quite well, although I can’t remember how long it took and I think with time I may need to tack on some extra sets especially if I can find some heavier dumbbells to do some rowing. The fact is that with this workout my back is solely done with pull ups and although I am not completely happy with that I have no way of getting rows into my workout at the moment and with the light dumbbells that I have it’s pointless to do lawnmowers. So here is my Gym Chest and Back workout.

Bench and Pull ups

135×20 + 10 wide front
135×20 + 10 wide front
185×10 + 10 reverse grip
185×10 + 10 reverse grip
225×10 + 10 close grip
225×10 + 10 close grip
275×5 + 7 tuck pull ups
185×10 + 7 L sit pull ups

As you can see, there are only 8 sets here and typically I like to aim for 12 -15. next time around I will time the workout and see if I can add another 2 sets at the lower weights. As my strength comes back I may be able to add more 275 sets but I don’t think I will be going higher than that. I benched 375 before, I don’t think I need to have a 400lb bench in my list of achievements.

Round 4 Day 1 – You Forget

Confusion - it's confusing

As much as they tout P90X as “muscle confusion” you do get into a rut of working the same muscle groups. It’g great that the rut isn’t too long or too deep but doing Chest and Back again yesterday for the first time in a long time reminded me of two things. First, the value of change. If you don’t change things regularly you will inevitably fall into a pattern by which both physically and psychologically you will become entranced and then lulled to sleep. The fact that you are sore AGAIN the first time you do a workout you haven’t done in a while speaks volumes to that. Second, the value of entertainment in fulfilling the time commitment. I have come across a few people who have claimed that they have saved a few minutes here and there by skipping bits and pieces of the workout or by (myself included) substituting weights or heavy resistance for some of the exercises. My advice would be if you want to substitute, take a day to do that but when you are faced with a P90X workout or and Insanity workout, submit to the process and do the whole thing. Saving 10 minutes off the workout isn’t doing you any favours in fact it will hurt you in the long run. 10 minutes a day on a program that requires a 6 day a week commitment (watch out here comes the math) is A FULL HOUR that you have skipped. Now I understand you are thinking that it’s only the warmup or only the cooldown but believe me if you aren’t present you aren’t’ getting the benefit but if you are there, you will get more of a boost to your overall fitness and attitude than you will ever realize. Each day that you skip part of the workout you devalue the process and thereby devalue yourself. My daughter is 4 months old now and time is at a premium however even I can’t truly make the excuse that 10 minutes is going to make a huge difference in her life but I can guarantee because I have been there, it will make a huge difference in mine. If you want to incorporate other stuff, do it prudently and make a day for it or allot a specific time for it, it will help you get the most out of your 90 day commitment and your daily workout sanctuary.

So Day 1 was fine, although I struggled with the rotation and the reduced body part count but  it was fun. The next morning I was sore but not too badly. It was a comforting reminder that I had once again found more muscle in need of work.

Round 3 – Day 1 to Day 6 (Light Of My Life)

Day 1 P90X – Chest and Back.

It has been so long since I have done a P90X workout that I really genuinely enjoyed listening to Tony and the gang. Of course, being day 1 I am keen, full of energy, able to keep up with the kids and taking it all in stride. I am ignoring the menace that awaits me tomorrow and the following day and just enjoying doing the work. I stuck with the workout as instructed and even agreed that I would do the ARX workout instead of skipping ahead and doing things in my own time. It is actually a relief to submit to someone else since all I have done for the past few days is plan and work around the new female in my life. I was able to slip away for an hour during an afternoon nap and that reminded me just what a great system this P90X and Insanity workout system is. Not only that, I have been building a deck and my soreness is more of a reminder that I need to stick with the program just to survive my new life!

Day 2 Insanity – Plyometric Cardio Circuit

I didn’t feel too bad after yesterday, my chest is a little tight but knowing that today was cardio I thought I was relatively safe. Of course I was forgetting that part of the Insanity workout involves more than a few minutes of plank and pushups and that my fate was already sealed. Once Shaun T went into the level 1 and ski abs I immediately regretted yesterday and my shortsightedness but realized that at least this was the worst I was going to feel. At least that is what I told myself at the time. By the end of the workout, as short as it was, I was face down in a pool of sweat and the floor of my gym once again looked like a slaughterhouse. I had forgotted just how hard the warmup was, and although I accurately remembered how long the workout was, I had obviously blocked out the memory of exactly how difficult it was. Needless to say I was spent both physically and emotionally and just thankful that today there was no abs.

Day 3 P90X – Shoulders and Arms

I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a truck. Although the lack of sleep due to the baby hasn’t really affected me so far I was still physically a wreck. I hurt all over, I couldn’t stand up straight and my calves were on fire all day. I went into the workout relieved that I didn’t have to do any more pull ups and that for me today is a favourite session. I soon found out that in fact my weights are significanltly down and the soreness in my chest prevented me from effectively doing my shoulders. Regardless, I soldiered on knowing I wouldn’t have to coach or go to work for the coming weeks and that I could in fact rest almost on demand.

Day 4 Insanity – Cardio and Resistance

I thought the last time around that I had done a few of the Insanity workouts. In fact, my memory sucks and I found out that in fact I have only done a couple of them. It was therefore a horrific shock that I didn’t know this workout ahead of time. I managed to do most of it, however the power jumps are killing me. I have to admit that I just love the Insanity workouts, the intensity is amazing, the time is short and I sweat bullets knowing that my heartrate is sky high. Not knowing what was coming however made me nervous and as such I think I will do better next time. I was drenched again and I swear I lose 5lbs each workout!

Day 5 Rest

Day 6 One on One with Tony Horton – Fountain of Youth Yoga

I had made a deal with myself that I would incorporate Yoga back into my schedule and rather than do the 90 minute P90X version I managed to get my hands on a copy of FOY Yoga. The thought of being alone with Tony in his basement made me queasy however he was personable, likeable and altogether different. The workout was great, just what I was looking for, a short but varied Yoga workout that I can fit into my schedule. Of course I couldn’t actually do much of it, partly due to my soreness from the past few days of deck work, baby holding and walking and my new Round 3 and partly due to the fact that I gave up Yoga so long ago any flexibility I had is long gone. I have the workout on my Patriot Box Office Media Player so I had Tony on the big screen upstairs while my daughter slept in her pack and play baby holding cell. If you don’t have one of these things yet, get yourself one, it is amazing. Full HD and the ability to play almost any media type.

So that is me all caught up. My daughter is 8 days old, my new workout is 6 days old and I feel like I am 70. Ah, just like the good old days.

Round 2, Day 36 – Chest, Shoulders and Triceps and Home Bench

invisible-bench-press

I am really happy with this workout now that I have substituted some of the weaker exercises with more bench work. When I bench I feel like I am really working. I have a hard time getting out of the gym rat mindset that unless you are throwing massive amounts of weights around then you really aren’t working. At least this way I get to stress my body, feed my desire to push 45lb plates around and still get a great varied workout.

The bench has been my partner for so many years. From being frustrated at my inability to push 2 plates right through to my bloodvessel busting 395lb singles we have come a long way together. My new partner is the chin up bar. Around a year ago I decided that my lifelong inability to do chin ups was finally going to be a thing of the past. I remember vividly not being able to do more than one chin up, and for a person who (yes I admit) thinks of themselves as pretty strong it was a real disappointment. After all, what kind of person can shoulder press and bench press well over their bodyweight and yet can’t do chin ups. It was an embarrassing secret. I committed to doing more pulldowns and to doing jump releases which are basically jumping up to full chin up and lowering yourself slowly. After much work I found that I was up to around 10 or so, something which I have to admit I always thought would be impossible. My introduction to P90X came shortly after that and since then my chin ups are where they probably should be, although not at Tony’s level, I can certainly hang with the other guys in the videos.

Maybe this is a hangover from the goal setting spiel from yesterday I am not sure. Either way, I find the bench to be a warm reminder of my many many years in the gym and the pull up bar as my hope for the future. I am missing the gym less and less but every so often it’s nice to reminisce with some heavy straight and close grip bench.

Round 2, Phase 2. Day “29”. The Next 3 Weeks

I am posting this again only because I had a hard time finding it the other day. Today is day 1 of Phase 2 which means technically it would fall on day 29. I am currently on day 26 having skipped the rest days and probably employed some horrible math.

Day 1: Chest, Shoulders & Triceps, Ab Ripper X
Day 2: Plyometric Cardio Circuit
Day 3: Back & Biceps, Ab Ripper X
Day 4: Pure Cardio with or without Cardio Abs
Day 5: Legs & Back, Ab Ripper X
Day 6: Cardio Power and Resistance
Day 7: Cardio Recovery

I will most likely kill Cardio Recovery in order to ensure that the 2 days coaching are my days off. In light of Tony’s rant that I posted yesterday I am going to stop being “a bitch” and taking that additional day off. It’s time to man up, Tony style!

Today saw the return to Chest Shoulders and Triceps and that also meant a return to using the bench in the gym. Some of the tricep stuff that Tony does is what we in the weightlifting community would refer to as “finishing” moves. In other words, they don’t do much but give you a pump but really aren’t useful in any muscle building way. Any tricep extension that you are only using 10lbs for isn’t worth anything. Not even the time to hit next on the remote. You see, the triceps are a vastly underutilized and underestimated muscle group and in order to get any kind of response from them they need to be worked very hard. Dips and close grip bench are terrific exercises for triceps. Overhead extensions, not so much. If you really want to see your bench press (or in P90X terms, your push ups) improve, blast your triceps with heavy weights for a few weeks, you will be amazed at the results. Of course, this would require you knowing just how powerful your triceps are… Let me just say that in gym terms, you should be able to do about 75% or more of your heaviest bench in a close grip bench grip. If you rely on push ups as your benchmark, you should be able to do 75% of your max regular push ups in military and at the very least 50% in diamond. If not, it could be that your triceps are lagging and need heavy work. Doing anything with a 10 or 15lb dumbell just won’t cut it I am afraid.

That being said, the workout is good, if you substitute enough tricep work to make it worthwhile you will definitely be sore the days following.