R8D45/7 – Head Down, Blinkers On, Legs Pumping

I feel like a racehorse during a long race. I remember when I was young we used to live by a horse racing course which was quite a large circuit, I would guess 4 miles or so. There was a big stand at the far side of the Knavesmire in Dringhouses that lined the start / finish line but the course itself went around the whole area, at one point coming close to the woods where my mates and I used to play on our bikes. I remember on occasion when the races were on that we would peek out from the woods, hanging off the railings watching these magnificent animals screaming past as the jockeys shouted at each other to make room, or occasionally, laughing with each other at full tilt. Because we were at the very back of the course, it was a lull in the race, the jockeys obviously relaxed, the animals well out of ear shot of the grandstands but there they were, heads down, blinkers on, legs furiously pumping as they carried their tiny payloads towards the finish. That’s exactly how I feel during the dog days of a 90 day program, it’s more than half over, but you are in that 60-80% range where the end seems too far away and the start is a distant memory. It’s the time when you need to cruise on autopilot for a while, stick to the plan and keep your head down.

My days 45-48 looked like this:

RKC 34555 plus extra presses – With a 45lb bell, but extra 45 presses per arm
100 pullups 300 pushups – sets of 30+10 with some active rest (jacks or jog)
2k+3k runs – Yes, I actually did 2 2k runs, in fact, the second one was slightly over 3k if I remember accurately.
Bootcamp 9 – 20-14-8 –  As outlined on the next post.

Day 49 should include some pullups at the gym with the girls and then a weekend of Beachbody specials, Insanity and P90X!


R8D25-30 – Ketchup

Day 26 – Short Crossfit type workout at gym with girls:

5 pullups
10 sumo deadlift high pull with 25lb kettlebell
15 pushups
20 bicycle crunch

Day 27 – Olympic Lift Practice

5 deadlift
5 clean
5 hang clean
5 strict press
5 push press
repeat 3x with 65lb then 3x with 115lb
Finish with 30 squats at 115lb

Day 28 – off, drive to Hastings
Day 28 – Thanksgiving Monday – Chest and Back with gymnastics rings

This was a hell of a workout, I didn`t  anticipate that the rings would make that much of a difference but the next day I was extremely sore through the chest and shoulders. Not only that, my numbers for pushups were down by at least 30% for the workout. It was a real eye opener that I hope to repeat.

Day 29 – Tuesday, 34543 RKC
Day 30 – Wednesday, Bootcamp week 4 as follows:

I decided it was time for the bootcamp peeps to do some weight work. With the advent of some dumbbells at the gym and the few light ones I had at home we had enough to go around and do some HIT training with weights. I put together a full body workout with 3 basic and 3 advanced movements for each body part. The workout took the full hour and was really an introduction to weights more than a hard weight based workout. It went over very well, I was happy with the work rate and volume but have to be wary that the cardio component is missing largely due to the inability of most of the participants to move the weight efficiently and quickly.

It all shook out like this:
Level 1
Shouldered weight squats
walking lunge
plie squat
Level 2
arms up lunge walk
plie high pull
Finish 20 air squats

Level 1
Military PU
Laying fly
Level 2
pushup on db with pull
military with db superman
fly with press
Finish 20 pushups
Level 1
Shoulder press
2 way flys
shoulder burn
Level 2
swimmers press
2 way fly plus high pull
shoulder burn
Level 1
twist 1 arm curl
double kickback
Level 2
in and out curls
hold curl 16’s
overhead tricep extension
Finish 20 military pushup
Level 1
chest weight crunch
side bend double db
turkish get up (DID NOT COMPLETE)
Level 2
Arms up crunch
plie squat side bend
plie squat twist
Finish 20 full sit ups

R8D25 – Crush Your Fear. C&B Plus TGU.

I have abandoned the ARX in favour of a move that I remember vividly as giving me an extremely strong core, the Turkish Get Up. I am a big fan of the TGU and believe that it was the move that was responsible for giving me a set of recognizable abs for only the second time in my life. Since the first time I had to put in several months of painful crunches and denigrating moves laying in aerobics class as a University student I will take the TGU way any time! It’s not that Ab Ripper X isn’t good, in fact it is, but I find that most if not all laying / sitting ab work leaves my back sore and that is something I am not about to mess with. As I have done for the last 3 weeks, I took Thursday off since the amount of cardio stress I put on my body coaching the bootcamp is ridiculous. As an example, the only time I have been over 5.0 on the Training Effect in Firstbeat Athlete is during bootcamp. The only time I have burned more than 1000 calories, is at bootcamp and the only time my heart rate gets over 170 is during the bootcamp as I try to talk and work at the same time. So my affair with the TGU will have to wait until tonight, and even then, maybe it will get bumped to tomorrow if I opt to work out at gym tonight. I didn’t enjoy last week just doing abs so I will have to see what I can come up wit for today. I am thinking maybe 4 stations including a thruster station, dips, chin ups and push ups.

My parents are here on Monday for 2 weeks, that means probably sporadic updates at best. So I will leave you with a tidbit to think about.


Fear is a chemical reaction. It’s a systematic response to something that starts deep in your brain, floods your body and mind with chemicals and prepares you to react to your fears. It’s the basis of the fight or flight response. In order to survive, your brain will tell you to fight or escape, and your body will react instantly to that decision. But think about that logically for a second. Your body and mind get to a state of readiness without you thinking about it. But that state of readiness isn’t just an evasive reaction to fear, half of that reaction is to stand up to the fear. Your entire being stands to alert in preparation as much to fight as to run. It’s sad, then, that our own immediate reaction to fear is a socially conditioned response to flee immediately with no consideration to the thought of fighting. I face this problem on a daily basis, not only with my own fitness journey, but mostly with my athletes at the gym whose response to scary situations is almost always to quit. They may not be mature enough to understand the mechanisms but they are human and are genetically engineered to balance fear with aggression, to measure out the degree of danger they perceive and to escalate their resolve and determination to overcome that obstacle. It’s what thousands of years of survival of the fittest has brought them.

They stand there, the absolute pinnacle of human achievement, the most advanced and feared animal on the planet, the most recent, most improved and most genetically perfected organism we as humans represent and yet, they squash their killer instinct with ignorance. There is no other word for it. They are unaware of their potential, not their individual talent potential but their organic, human potential to use their base instinct to overcome their fear. It’s a fact that we as humans are designed to fight, to kill and to rise above the challenges we face. However our societal morals have taught us that those things are not acceptable behaviour and that we need to use our empathy and intelligence to measure our reactions. That’s great in the outside world, but it doesn’t translate to training, and it sure as hell doesn’t translate to that voice inside your head who tells you that “you can’t do it”.

Physical activity, high intensity compound movement physical activity requires the benefit of that systematic response to work. It relies on your fight or flight response to cause the cascade of chemicals to flood your brain and focus your mind to the task you face. Without it, you will fail. Without it, you will reinforce your conditioned response that you aren’t good enough, strong enough or skilled enough. Without it, you are no better than that person you see in the gym endlessly lifting 5lb weights, 30 reps at a time in the hope something will happen, or the person running on the treadmill trying to escape their biological need for battle one pathetic step at a time.

It’s simple to turn it all around. Some people call it aggression, some call it a competitive nature, others an A type personality. It’s not really any of those, it’s just a desire to be better today than you were yesterday. It has to come from a place of honesty and integrity but if you hold on to the idea that you will commit to improving yourself then you will discover that you will face adversity with a passion and an aggression that is appropriate and rewarding. Aggression in the physical realm is not only a benefit, it’s a requirement, and the sooner you use your aggression to squash your fear, the sooner you will discover just how much you can really achieve.

Feel the fear, face the fear and crush the fear.


R8D18/19 – Doing The Basics Right And Bootcamp 3

Day 18 was an RKC workout. I was speaking with a coworker (and in fact some of my fitness class peeps) about the benefits of kettlebell work and it’s really weird. When you try to describe it, it doesn’t sound hard or even interesting but when you actually do the workout it is such a great whole body workout that it keeps you hooked. It’s a very basic motion, a very basic set of movements but as any great athlete knows, the best and most skilled athletes are the ones that have mastered the basics.

My kettlebell workouts now are exclusively with the 55lb bell and I got through the following:

34543 ladders of Clean and Press with pullups and 20 swings between each set
2x 3 rungs of snatches without pullups

I have to admit the snatches with the 55 were a bit daunting, and even though I was outside and able to just let go of the thing if it got out of control it was still pretty scary the first couple of times. I got through it though so I was pretty happy with myself. Next time will be 55555 ladders, that’s a long workout!

Wednesday was no name bootcamp day. We still haven’t really come up with a good name for it, and I have writers block…

The workout (now is the morning after) wasn’t that tough, even though it seemed difficult. I am not the least bit sore today which is a bit of a worry that we didn’t do enough to really work our legs. It’s odd, because it is mainly a leg workout so I thought I would be really feeling it this morning. That said, I find that lately I don’t get sore until right around 24 hours afterwards rather than the next morning so tonight I may be crying into my homemade sausages.

Yes, I made more sausages. This time with 60% pork, 40% beef and lots of spices including cumin and chili flakes with a little dijon mustard for juiciness. They are yummy, and I am so happy I can now eat guilt free sausages knowing exactly what’s in there!

Back to the workout:
Week 3
Short Tony Warmup and Stretch

Squat with knee lift cross touch x8
Squat with 4 hamstring curls x8
Point work front side back x8
hip flexor burners up ext hold pulse 8’s

In and out x25
full bicycle x20
full sit up x10
Laying pulse up to weak vsnap – 4 full 8 pulse x 4

x20 x2
step ups (arms on head)
step switch (arms on head)
box jumps ( arms on head)
Squat to box jump

Agility x2
two foot hops sideways over line length
over and tap length
hop full line each foot
over line with jump half turn x8

Run stance squats 16x each side
Single leg squat to hop x8 each side
Lunge walk arms up 8 per side
Frog jumps x8

The following we skipped due to lack of time… Maybe that’s why I am not so tired.

Squat hold arms out, reach touch knees with elbows
Squat hold arms out, reach touch opposite toe with hand
squat hold arms out, reach touch opposite knee with elbow
box floor to shelf 8x 2 each side

Level 1 Drills Expanded edition
Burpee x4
Burpee 4 pushup x4
Burpee 4 pushup 8 run x4
Burpee 4 pushup 8 run 4 squat thrust x4

R8D7 – RKC. How Much Is 10lbs? Bootcamp Musings.

I said last week that I had picked up some new equipment, having tried and loved the rings it was time to check out the new kettlebell.

Anyone who tells you that 10lbs isn’t much weight should try moving from a 45lb to a 55lb kettlebell. It didn’t feel like much at first and I was only scheduled to do 34543 ladders, not even 55555 but still by the middle of the last 4 ladder I was struggling to get the bell overhead. Not only that, the handle is less smooth than my 45 and so my hands feel like they are getting shredded, even though they are not. However, I struggled through the workout, however opted to skip the swings between each set just in case, I did manage to bust out the 70lb for swings at the end though. It went like this:

With 55lb KB

3 rungs with chinups
4 rungs with chinups
5 rungs with chinups
4 rungs with chinups
3 rungs with chinups

5 swings with 45lb KB
5 swings with 55lb KB
5 swings with 70lb KB
10 swings with 45lb KB
10 swings with 55lb KB
10 swings with 70lb KB
15 swings with 45lb KB
15 swings with 55lb KB
15 swings with 70lb KB

I have to admit I am a little nervous about tomorrow. I am leading a bodyweight workout class at the gym where I coach, and it’s not that I am concerned about the content, or even that we will be in a studio type room not a gym, but rather I am afraid I might break someone. I guess I am used to coaching gymnasts or young athletes for the most part, and when I am not working them hard I am pushing myself as hard as I can. I am just not accustomed to taking it easy on people. Hopefully that is what they signed up for. I have to say I do hear people often say that they wish they could go on shows like Last Ten Pounds Bootcamp or Shedding For The Wedding so they could have Tommy Europe whip them into shape. Well if that is the case, then they should get what they are asking for. However, I don’t think many people are aware of the effort it takes to keep up a regimen like that. I also think that they may be unaware of the reaction they will have when someone tries to stop them from quitting when they want to. Anyone over the age of 12 in this world seems to think that they have a right to disregard the rules, whatever they may be, if they want to. Even most personal trainers in globo gyms won’t push you hard for fear that you just won’t come back. But that’s not helping anyone. A huge part of a successful lifestyle is discipline, and that means following the rules. Not only the rules for diet and schedule, but also the rules for effort level, number of reps and determination. I will have a fine line to walk tomorrow between getting the most work out of these people and discouraging them. I just hope to have enough motivation in my welcome speech to see them through. It is only once a week after all, and you can do anything for an hour once a week, right?

R8D1&2 – A New Beginning

Big RKC day on Round 8 Day 1 (Monday), and I have to say I am not about to lose my love of kettlebells any time soon. What an awesome workout it is!

Day 2, Tuesday, was scheduled to be P90X Chest and Back and for a little added extra I decided once again to do the workout with my Mir Weighted Vest. So I loaded up 20lbs and set about the workout. Now 20lbs doesn’t seem like a lot, especially since I have lost 60lbs over the last year however once you strap it to your back and start working you would be amazed at how much it impacts your ability.

Usually I can crank out about 50 pushups each round, but with the extra I struggled to get 30. Not only that, but I found that my performance really started to go downhill during round 2 of the workout. I am so used to it now that I hit the same numbers both times through, which is partly why I wanted to do the extra weight. This time however, I remember doing the decline pushups which is usually an easy 30/30 for me but this time I only managed to crank out about 12 on the second round. It was a little humbling, but at the same time completely awesome!

I am starting round 8 with some difficult times ahead, and it’s going to be a challenge getting everything squeezed in while protecting myself from injuries, past and future. I am probably coaching 3 days a week again, and if not, certainly coaching 2 and leading a fitness class on the 3rd. Couple that with the baby, of course, a niggling calf injury, and a desire to once again get my weight moving in a negative direction and you have a recipe that will require a great deal of attention to get right.

I’m not about to compromise though.


R5D63 – RKC Light Day Outside. Shipping Details.

Today was the first time I was able to go out on the deck and do my workout with the chin up bar outside. I just love to work out in the afternoon sun, it is very calming, but at the same time very invigorating. Also, the chin up bar I have out there is higher and wider than the one indoors and so creates a much better range of motion for the chinups. It was RKC  light day, so the workout was pretty quick, however I managed to develop a pain behind my shoulderblade which I assume is a part of nerve impingement in my neck. It comes and goes, just one more thing to deal with while I wait for my package to arrive. I got a note from Beachbody that my package had shipped and it should be here in 1 week. It’s very exciting, let me tell you!

At the end of last year, this is what the deck looked like. I don’t have big plans for it this year other than to try and extend the chin up bar on the left and secure it with something better than a chain nailed to the side of the decking. I am also going to be making a jump up box of 24″ since at various places around the deck I can go from 14″-10″ of height. Having a sturdy box will be great however I am not certain I won’t bang my head on the upper deck. Even if I do, the lower deck extends past the upper, I will just have to place the box away from the overhang. Those bars are yellow for clarity in the picture, in fact they are both black. One is a plumbing pipe, about 1.5″ thick. The other, longer one chained to the supports is the top pipe of a chain link fence which is at least 2.5″ thick giving me a grip workout at the same time.

R5D48 – Warrior Dash 2011 and Heavy Day

“When the fight begins within himself, a man’s worth something.”

-Robert Browning, 1812-1889

I am up to full speed now with the RKC Rite Of Passage. It’s week 9 of the workout and finally the different days are actually different. The heavy day has 5 rungs of up to 5 reps on each movement looking like this:

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
C&P left 4
C&P right 4
Pull Up 4
C&P left 5
C&P right 5
Pull Up 5

Plus 25 swings for 6 minutes with 5 seconds rest between sets. That’s just long enough to put the KB down and pick it up again BTW.

The light day is only 5 ladders of 3 rungs, the medium day 5 ladders of 4 rungs. Now that I am up to full speed, the duration is only a month so I have to start looking for what to do with my KB skills once I am done with the RKC. I am certain there are things to move on to after from Pavel, I just haven’t looked yet. Spring and outdoor workouts are right around the corner and the KB is a great tool for working outdoors anywhere. I am also on to day 48 of Round 5 which means that in about 28 days or so I will be around day 76 which is probably long enough for Round 5. I think this will be the last “round” that I do, but I need another way of documenting my progress. Maybe that is thinking too much and I just need to keep going to R6 and beyond. I like the 90 day thing, it prevents me from getting bored and is long enough to see what changes the workouts make to your body. Maybe Insanity2 “The Asylum” will be out in the next month, or P90X2 or whatever he is calling it. If so, I would gladly go back to that with some KB work on alternating days. I will keep my fingers crossed.

I am also registered for Warrior Dash 2011 which is like a tame, watered down version of Tough Guy or Tough Mudder the latter is considered the  toughest race on the planet and so probably a smaller, more friendly race is the place to start. I am actually really looking forward to it, to having something to really train for and to focus my workouts on. I guess in reflection, round 6 will be the Warrior Dash preparation round. Since there is some running involved, I am going to have to start doing sprints and 400m intervals to get my calves back into shape since the only real issue I have with running is calf cramping. Hopefully by the time the race comes around I will have lost a little more weight and be near my ideal fighting weight. I can’t wait!!!


R5D43/44 – We All Struggle Sometimes, That’s Why We Do It.

I had a busy weekend. The brakes on the Jeep weren’t working well last week and as I removed the calipers I found that I had a seized slider pin on each side. That meant that since I couldn’t free them up that I would be purchasing 2 new calipers at $125 a piece. Bolts broke, the shock install that I decided to take on at the same time only got half done due to another bolt issue and eventually after a frustrating weekend spent in a freezing garage I was really not much further along. So Saturday I had a day off, having worked out on Friday it was fine but it meant that I was going to have to do heavy Saturday on Sunday and not take a day off. It worked out OK, Sunday was OK since I am still not doing 5 rungs on 5 ladders yet and even so, I did do one ladder of 5 rungs just to see how it was. The big deal was Friday when I did the Art Of Strength: Providence DVD.

The AOSP DVD reminded me of when I first started doing P90X, it was a world of movements I hadn’t seen before and was dying to try. I was pretty useful at most of them, but was left with a feeling that I could have done a whole lot better. It was pure KB work and some of the movements were pretty challenging but it got me out of the monotony of the RKC and let me see that my future isn’t just swings and snatches and presses but there is a whole world of KB movements that you can do. It was an eye opener, a challenge and a really invigorating experience. I am now on the hunt for more KB movements that I can put together for a workout once the RKC Rite Of Passage is over. It reminded me once again of why I enjoy doing this kind of thing just as much as I used to enjoy going to the gym and throwing big plates around. It’s as much journey of discovery and challenges as it is a hard physical struggle. As long as you are not struggling against boredom it’s fine.

Learn, grow, learn some more, it never stops. I still can’t believe that I am in as good or better shape now on 20-30 minutes a day than I was at 25 in University doing 3 hours a day. Bizarre.

1991 - around 190lbs working out 3 hours a day including 2 hours of aerobics class (yes it's true!)
November 15 2010 - 1 month into Paleo @ 265lb. I'm around 20lbs less now, March 2011.

R5D39 – Pancake Tuesday and Diabetes In A Can

Yesterday’s workout was pretty good, I am up to 3 rungs on 5 ladders and am in week 7 of the RKC. The workout went like this:

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

For a total of 5 repetitions. Since it was Monday it was snatch day with the 45lb which still poses a problem for me. 10 each arm with 1 minute rest for a total of 6 minutes. My forearms are getting less beaten up as time goes along, but pulling that KB down from overhead is still a scary moment.

Mmmm... Diabetes
Mmmm... Diabetes

Today is Tuesday, not just any Tuesday, but Pancake Tuesday. Today, historically I would have come into work late after going to Golden Griddle and overindulging in the golden wheaty goodness that is the North American pancake. As a child I was treated to the British staple, the thin crepe, filled with Lyle’s Golden Syrup which, if you haven’t tried it, is like eating diabetes straight out of the jar! It is probably the single best condiment in the history of the world however and regardless of the fact that there is an apparently dead lion on the tin, you should definitely try some! I know, I am now Canadian and the Canadian way is to stick to Maple Syrup as the food of the gods but seriously, Lyle’s kicks Maple syrup in the groin and then laughs about it. Anyway, today will be the first time in years, and I mean probably 20+ years that I won’t be having pancakes. I know I have discussed this Stunning Revelation before but for the first time in my life I just don’ t think about food. I have spent all my adult life thinking about food 24 hours a day. That may sound like an exaggeration but it really isn’t. I was so bad that while I was eating I would be thinking about what I was going to eat for my next meal. It didn’t matter if I was dieting or not, I still thought about it all the time. Since going Paleo,  food doesn’t cross my mind until the clock tells me it’s time to eat or I have a break in my schedule and know I have something in the fridge I am supposed to eat. It’s the single biggest change to happen to me in my lifetime. It’s like someone has taken that addictive part of my brain and shut it down. I am still obsessive about some things, I am still guilt of overdoing certain things but the out of control factor is gone. If you had told me before the last 6 months that I would not be having pancakes on pancake day I would have told you that you were delusional. But the last 5 months have been an eye opener for me, letting me know that no matter how old you are, you can change and that (in a bizarre turn of physiological truth) what you eat really REALLY does affect not only how you feel, but WHO YOU ARE!

Grains were controlling my life and that is so far out there even I have a hard time grasping it!