Round 3 – Day 78 – The Half Hour From Hell Crossfit Style

I was supposed to be doing Chest, Shoulders and Triceps today, don’t ask me why I thought I was on Legs and Back but I guess in the confusion of the last few days I got mixed up. I decided that having read about Crossfit for a while that I would try a Crossfit approach to my Legs and Back day. So I went outside onto the lower deck and found 3 places I could do step up or jump up. Couple that with the two chin up bars I have out there and it was all I needed to get the job done. I thought that I would be able to do 100 jumps and 100 chinups and see how that was. Ultimately, I got to about 70 and called it quits, it was about 35 degrees with the humidity and after half an hour of this circuit I was completely beat. The session went something like this

Warmup: Jog up the hill at the side of the house 10x
Set 1: 10 14″ Jump ups 10 wide front pull ups
Set 2: 10  18″ Step ups with knee raise, 10 narrow front pull ups
Set 3: 10 14″ Jump ups , 10 reverse grip pull ups
Set 4: 10 18″ Step ups with foot tap not step down, 10 wide front pull ups
Set 5:  10 24″ Jump ups, 10 narrow front pull ups
Set 6: 10 24″ Jump ups, 10 reverse grip pull ups
Set 7: 10 24″ Jump ups, 10 wide front pull ups

Unfortunately the highest point of the deck is 24″ off the ground which, for a person my size is probably high enough! The circuit only took about 28 minutes to complete but my heart rate was alarmingly high after doing the jump ups. I was really surprised just how difficult it was even with all the Insanity stuff I have been doing. I think I will keep doing this though, at least trying to incorporate the outside world, we live on a private circle which is 600m around, so maybe I will start incorporating 600m runs into the program now that the oppressive heat seems to have broken.

Since I am writing this the day after and  I am able to walk, I can speak to the success of this program. I did have thoughts of not being able to move this morning, unsure how my back would have reacted to the workload.

Round 2, Day 5. Fridays are for resting.

Legs and Back.

It’s February now, I am not able to exercise with the walkout doors open in the summer heat. The claustrophobic feeling of the basement is starting to feel like cabin fever. However, I was handling things well, regardless of the horrible shape in which I find myself. That was, until today. Legs and Back is a tough workout, especially with my history of one weak leg due to back surgery and a history of pull up free workouts. However, over the past year my chin ups are imporving drastically but my leg… well, it’s not really doing much improving. It is Friday night, I did Legs and Back after work today, the toughest day of the week for me. I was conditioned through years of growing up role modelling my father to regard Friday as the day of recovery. It is like you work all week so that Friday night you can blow off the week and do whatever you want. Mostly that doesn’t include working out like a badger on dexedrine. The workout itself wasn’t too taxing. A couple of times I was close to failure with my legs and bearing in mind that I am a good 20lbs (to be kind) over what I was when I finished round one I am not surprised that my legs were giving out.

Back went OK too although I find that my numbers are down from last time, a reflection of the fact that I was in shape when I started last time. However, not to harp on the issue of my being out of shape it’s about the fact that I am getting back into shape…

I found that after the workout that I had a mean sugar craving, maybe due to the high protein content of my diet today but whatever it was I thought a little tea with a spoon of sugar would fix it. It didn’t. I devoured the pita pit veggie pita that I had from work and about 2 litres of water by which time I felt like I was about to explode. Better than a dozen cookies I suppose. I did have a couple of small individual zize chocolates left over from our Switzerland trip after the New Year just to take the edge off.

**Note: August 2011. It`s no wonder I wasn`t getting anywhere with weight loss with that attitude. It was like flying blind until I realized diet was the key. I knew it all along, I just was in denial.

G-Day 5 – Legs and Back

So here is my interpretation. It is basically the same as doing the DVD in fact, I have only substituted a couple of moves. I cannot nail down the best way to work in the incline leg press so it may never make it in to the workout.

I posted this before the workout, so here it is again with the numbers included. This was a long (48min without warm up) and difficult workout. Surprisingly one of the hardest things was the Chair Pose on the BOSU ball. I was sweating bullets after that one and shaking like a leaf while attempting it.

Legs and Back


24 24 Balance Lunges
30 30 Calf-Raise Squats
13 FULL Reverse Grip Chin-Ups
15 15 Super Skaters
4x15s 60s Wall Squats
7 FULL Wide Front Pull-Ups
20 20 Step Back Lunges
20 24 Alternating Side Lunges
12 FULL Closed Grip Overhand Pull-Ups
6×10 60s Single-Leg Wall Squats
8 12 Deadlift Squats – SINGLE LEG SQUATS
9 FULL Switch Grip Pull-Ups
25@50 24 Hamstring Curls Machine
14 24 Stiff Leg Deadlifts – No Weight on bar
9 FULL Reverse Grip Chin-Ups (again)
2x30s 60s Chair Salutations or Squat hold on BOSU
20 12 Toe-Roll Iso Lunges
9 FULL Wide Front Pull-Ups (again)
5 20 Free Squat 4 count down 4 hold 4 up
47 20×3 Calf Raises
7 FULL Closed Grip Overhand Pull-Ups (again)
20 20 80/20 Siebers-Speed Squats
10 FULL Hammer Grip Pull-Ups

Day 82 – Redemption (I am so lost sometimes)

So my last entry lamenting the fact that I missed my last weights day was a little premature. Fact is that I have one day left. The day 81 workout was the Kenpo that I switched with Yoga leaving me with Legs and Back today and then Yoga on Friday (or not, as noted).

Sometimes I wonder...

So I am now in a position where I have one resistance day left and then one cardio day and then a full week of rest week and then I am done.

I’ll let you know how the last resistance day goes. Nothing out of the norm I can’t imagine.

So it would figure that once I did the math and figured out I still had one day left to do that I would be feeling like garbage. I think I had a little too much coffee today because I felt shaky and weak, a sure sign of caffeine overload. For me, when that happens I get the feeling that I can’t get any blood flow to my muscles, I feel weak and surprisingly lethargic. Once I start working out however I find my heart rate goes higher than normal and I sweat like a wildebeast. Speaking of which, here’s an interesting fact for the day that I think maybe everyone except me knows… The wildebeast is the same animal as the Gnu. I had literally no idea. Besides, it sounds less dramatic to say I was sweating like a Gnu.

So the start of the workout was difficult but I pushed myself to do more knowing how I would feel after 10 minutes or so. That is an incredibly important part of fitness and weightloss. Knowing how your body will react to something is a powerful tool in your arsenal. It is obvious that some days you are going to be better in the gym than others, it’s just a fact. During those days that you feel great and want to do more, you should do whatever you can because you know that there are going to be days when you have to take it easy because you don’t feel so good. The point is to recognize the difference between your body sending you a message to take it easy and your brain telling you to relax because it is being lazy. Laziness doesn’t have an equal and opposite force, it is just a drain. Lazy people are lazy in all facets of their life including at the gym and with their diet. Strong motivated people know when to push and when to hold back and that is something that will always work to their advantage.

In other words, learn to recognize your BODY’S signals, not your brain’s.

So I started off not feeling great, but after the first round of pullups and lunges I started to come around. As usual for me, once I get going I feel fine, which is why I have a long standing agreement with myself that if I don’t feel like going to the gym I will go anyway and see how it is. If I still feel like I don’t need to be there after 10 minutes, I am allowed to leave. Of the dozens of times I have thought of this rule, I have only ever once turned around after 10 minutes and left.

So what have I learned about the leg days? This is important to me because when I first hurt my back way back in 1997 or so it was on an incline leg press doing slightly over 1000lbs. The sled came down on me and I was unable to turn the stop handles quickly enough. Due to the fact that I was not flexible, something had to give and it was my back. Now, I am not blaming my entire history of back problems on that one event, but what I do know is that morning laying on the floor of The Workout was the first time I ever remember feeling the pain of disc herniation. I continued to work on my legs for the next few years without much incident, I mostly did squats and extensions and stayed away from the sled. Once my back started to give out more regularly I gave up working out my legs because it seemed that every time I did something with my legs I put my back out. I even recall doing the original P90 workout a few years ago and after leg day the next morning I couldn’t walk because of my back. After my surgery I was left with a weak right leg having lost about 30% of the muscle mass in my thigh. I tried in vain to rebuild the leg but found it incredibly frustrating. Looking back I wish I had listened to myself when I used to tell my PT clients about the importance of stretching, not for flexibility necessarily but for warmup and warm down purposes. Had I realized that my back problems were linked directly to my leg issues and the lack of hamstring flexibility I could have saved myself a lot of grief. But, you live and learn.

So what I have learned about leg days is that your legs are a critical part of your lower back health, your overall flexibility and even your core strength. If you are smart and look after your hamstrings, keep them flexible and strong you will go a long way towards preventing unnecessary back pain. This also applies to knee pain and hip pain since the leg muscles are the connection between your hips and your knees. I can’t stress how important it is to keep the back of your legs supple and the proof is the fact that I am able to do the intense workouts for my legs in P90X without any adverse effects on my back. This alone has been both a major benefit but also a major surprise to me. My right leg has grown in strength and size over the past 90 days which I was unable to accomplish in the 8 years since my surgery. It just goes to show, you should try everything once because you just never know what might work.

Except acupuncture. Don’t bother with acupuncture it doesn’t work. I can tell you that from experience.

Days 75-76 Weekend Warrior returns. As does back pain.

Back, Legs, Kenpo

Had to… two often misused and overused words. However, I had to take Friday off. It was inevitable and unavoidable that after the first week of coaching that I would be very sore, very cranky and very tired. Although this should not have prevented me from going down to the basement with Tony I am afraid under my new P90X t-shirt I am human after all…

However, an interesting aside, I am more sore now than I have been through this whole process and I am not sure if it is because of coaching and so on or if in fact it is due to the fact that I am not doing something every day as I was previously. Either way, I am going to have to be careful since I can’t afford to take a day off or to have my back go out at any point now with such a full calendar.

It was great to do Kenpo, I have to say. Having so many days between each of the workouts is making progress almost impossible but also there is an “absence makes the heart grow fonder” aspect to it. I did pullups the other day, was happy to in fact, but the followign day I was incredibly sore. Kenpo was a great time but I have to admit that I feel like I pulled something in my back doing it.

Maybe P90X is not really meant to be done at such a leisurely pace as 5 days a week.

Days 68 to 70 – Floored

Legs and Back, Kenpo

As usual, the weekend took a toll on my workouts. Not that I don’t have time t0 get them done, but especially this time I have other things to occupy my time. I took Friday off, something which I think is inherited from my father who took Friday evenings as his “decompression” time. I started parts of the floor prep making lists and to do priorities. Saturday meant early legs and back which was enjoyable and it was a nice bonus to get it done early. However, with a day of hard physical work ahead I knew I may be in for a world of pain.

800lbs of floor.

Truck, 800lbs of floor and a challenge!

I went to Home Depot and got the flooring, manhandled it into and out of the truck and started on the floor. First I had to pull the carpet and since we don’t have a lot of room in which to work it meant moving furniture around to clear floor space. I spent a lot of the day bent over removing staples which held the foam underpad down. Whoever installed it was obviously fixated on the staple gun since they used it like it was their newest Christmas present. With large areas of the carpet removed I spent Sunday getting the last of it out and removing the trim pieces that will need reinstalling once the floor is in. I also spent about an hour and a half trying to cut the bottom of the fireplace with a hand saw until I realized that I had recently seen a tool on TV that would be ideal. It was, however, $400 so I went to Home Depot again and found the Dremel knock off which would have saved me an enourmous amount of time had I thought of it earlier.

tackstrip vs foam

Long and painful story short I was too tired and had worked too damn hard to do Kenpo on Sunday. So I officially am skipping a workout and getting back to my Chest and Back workout on Monday.

That is when I realised that the buggers at Beachbody have slipped in an extra week of workouts at the end of the program. I thought that this being the 3rd week of Phase 3 that I had one more week of weights and then one rest week and I would be done. Not so! I actually have 2 more weeks of weights until the final rest week. This brings with it mixed emotions, at least it gives me 2 more weeks to coem up with some of the conditioning for gym, it also gives me an extra week to get myself in even better shape however it means the finish line is now a week further away than I thought it was!!!

I almost went to the gym on Sunday to do my Legs and Back workout, a session which lends itself well to that transition. I feel like it has been forever since my days at the gym and I think it will be a welcome change to get back there. September is going to be a month of significant change around here!

So here I go, 2 more weeks of weight work and then one more rest week and I am done! A real, bona fide completion of the program. I can’t wait.

Day 61 – I Can See Clearly Now The Rain Has Gone

Or in Nicole’s case, I can see clearly now you have cut open my eyeball and burned off part of my retina with a laser!

It appears, at least initally, that the surgery was a resounding success. Her comments to me are similar to the feelings I recall from my own surgery and since I ended up with bionic super-vision I have high hopes for her.

Today was legs and back – Torture for my poor sore hamstrings and bum.

Unfortunately it is now a few days later and after a weekend in Niagara Falls my recollection is dim at best. What I can tell you is that my chinups are miles better than they were and it seems like the elbow and shoulder pain I was having initially is subsiding somewhat. I can also tell you that Phase 3 of the workout is basically Phase 1 plus Phase 2 weeks kind of mixed in together. So this week I did week 1, next week I will be doing week 5 workouts.


Day 47-49 Weekends are fun! Program mixups are not!

I don’t want to fall into a pattern of losing touch with the proper schedule during weekends but for some reason last week’s mess with the wrong workout on the wrong day and then an extra day off really messed things up. It sent ripples of disturbance through this weekend causing me to perform a shortened Yoga workout on Sunday in order to set up for the real Yoga of rest week on Monday.

Friday was Day 47, I was already a day off schedule due to last week so it was supposed to be Yoga but actually I did Plyo since I switched them again, something that would come back to bite me. I do love the Plyo workout so it was easy to complete, enjoyable and easy to push myself. I did find that my legs were sore afterwards, something I was surprised at but I put down to the fact that I had pushed very hard during the lunges at the start. Saturday I did legs and back and found that my hamstrings were very tight after doing 30 minutes on the treadmill in the morning. Maybe it was the very hot weather recently but I find myself a little sluggish and with a very heavy feeling in my legs. I mentioned this last week but I thought for sure it would pass quickly enough. Not yet. I am thinking that on the days when I do double workouts that I am not replacing the glycogen well enough and that is causing me to hit the wall prematurely. It also would explain the lack of fullness in my legs and the sluggishness (I think). Saturday we went to the market early and I don’t recall feeling heavy and slow at that point so maybe it is the extra cardio after all. Sunday was supposed to be rest day on a normal week, this week it was supposed to be Yoga since I had skipped Monday and switched the Plyo and Yoga days. I checked the schedule for next week (REST WEEK 2 WOOHOO !!!!) and found that day 1 is supposed to be Yoga. I had really screwed myself. I knew I couldn’t do 2 days of Yoga back to back so I ended up doing about half the Yoga workout and some extra stretching to make sure I was not Yoga’d out by Monday. That workout was fine, the flexibility piece is getting easier, but the moving savasanas at the start are still a challenge, especially the last one with the half moon and twisting half moon.

I guess it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that if you start to change stuff around you are going to run into problems with the schedule. The fact that it was an accident was little comfort when I realized what the changes had done. Anyway, I am going to be on rest week next week so I will have plenty of time to recover from the mix ups.

So there you have it, end of week 7 going on to rest week 2 and with only the last 1/3 of the program left to do. So far so good and I think this rest week I will try to post some measurements and some body part shots.

Don’t hold your breath.

Days 40-43 Major Malfunction, Long Weekend

So I kind of messed up this week. I did Kenpo on Thursday because I was sure that was the right thing to do. I realized once I checked the schedule that I was supposed to do Yoga on Thursday and Kenpo on Saturday. I actually ended up taking Saturday off (well, I did 45 minutes on the treadmill instead) instead of Sunday and then doing Yoga on Sunday. Then on Monday I built a large TV shelf to sit on top of the fireplace in the living room that would accommodate the tuner, the Satellite box, the DVDRW and both the Wii and the PS3. However, between fixing that up and installing it which took around an hour with the ridiculous amount of cabling involved and the small but significant amount of gardening that I did I managed to miss out my workout all together. So I now find myself on Tuesday without having done my Monday workout which means that I will now have to go without a day off this week.

So here is the plan.

Tuesday: Chest Tri Shoulders
Wednesday: Plyo
Thursday: Back and Biceps
Friday: Yoga
Saturday: Legs and Back
Sunday: Kenpo

This will get me back on track for next week which coincidentally is a rest week which fits perfectly.

So what did I do with my 4 days off? Well, I completely finished revamping the garage so that I actually have room to work and room to park the Jeep again. I built the shelf I just mentioned and installed it however if it works out fine and we like it, I will have to take it down and paint it black so it fits in. I did a good job with it too, routed the edges and everything to make it look professional! I also bought and installed a new stereo head unit for the Jeep, one with a USB port on front so you can use a flash drive for your music instead of CDs. That means I can get an 8GB memory stick and put every song I have ever heard on it! Nicole thinks we need a road trip now so we can listen to all that tuneage!

pioneerp3100I did manage to fix the broken fence on the walkout deck and do some gardening, attempting to rescue our front yard flower bed that I built last year from the grass that has overtaken it. Weird how I still have stupid holes in the actual lawn but the grass grows like crazy everywhere I don’t want it to. I also “fixed” the mirrors in the basement, ever since I installed them I have been meaning to glue them to the wall instead of having them rest on the rail I built for them. I had assumed that if I glued them to the wall they would all be aligned properly and would look perfect. Not the case. In fact, the wall is so messed up that the mirrors are even worse than they were. Oh well, lesson learned that if you want a mirror wall, get a large mirror, don’t try to make one from small mirrors. Actually, it would probably have worked OK if I had stuck the mirrors to a surface I knew was flat and then against the wall. Maybe I will try that if I can get them off the wall now. Stick them to a piece of MDF and then attach that to the wall… hmmm…

So there you have it, a few days of major achievements around the house but not the greatest outcome on the P90X front. Although, even though I missed 2 workouts I added 2 days of cardio. Maybe that will all even out in the long run.

Day 33 – The Fear. The Choice.

Legs and Back.

Note the opposite twist to the natural hip position. Ouch!

Note the opposite twist to the natural hip position. Ouch!

I was thinking last night after I finished Yoga that one of the main reasons that people fail at sticking to thing such as diets, a workout plan, a 90 day torture session like P90X is fear. I have heard this a lot in the past and it never really made sense to me until now. I am not habitually fearful. I have a confidence in myself that replaces that fear. I get nervous, sure, and there are times when I think that my bravery may exceed my capabilities but I am usually fine with that. However, as time passes and I get older and wiser that fear has started to creep into my life. It is not unexpected given what I have been through with my back I suppose. If I were someone else I would think it is perfectly reasonable to be fearful given my circumstances. But last night during Yoga I realized that the reason I have stuck with this program so far and the reason that I have made such good progress with my flexibility and Yoga is that I refuse to acknowledge the fear in my head. Since my surgery I have lived in pain, it is not something that I like to talk about because I am sure to most people it just sounds like the complaining of a lazy fat guy. However, living in constant pain teaches you how to avoid any additional pain and the one thing I have mastered is staying on the right side of that extra pain line. However, I realized yesterday that the buffer between me and that line is a lot wider than I imagined. In fact, that line is WAAAAAAAY further than I thought it was. Sure, I have discomfort ( I call it pain, but in reality in comparison to ACTUAL pain it is just an inconvenience) but so far I have not caused myself an additional pain. As I went into Twisting Triangle pose last night I thought to myself that only a few weeks ago there is no way I would have tried something like that. Not only would I have thought it physically impossible but I would have assumed that I would twist my spine and like a bent paperclip it would never return to it’s original shape again. When it comes to my back my fear has ruled the roost and up until now it has served me well but I think it is about time that I realize that I may in fact be capable of more than I ever thought possible. Of course, if I manage to put my back out during this 90 days I will come back here and curse myself for my recklessness however one good thing about that fearlessness I spoke of earlier, it always means you will get back on that horse one more time.