Laboratory, Me…

Objective…

To sustain muscle that is functional, strong, flexible, not burdensome, and looks good, without garnering some of the negative consequences which are often associated with recreational bodybuilding, such as aches, pains, stiffness, and spending hours in the gym.

Good news, my previous internal thesis on this hasn’t changed in over a decade, this is just an update. This is a direction I began to head in my early 40s, and lived it pretty well for about 10 years or so,. Then, in 2011 I got a little cocky, and stepped it up.

Boot in the ass…

Through my 40s, my workouts, and physique were on autopilot. After I turned 50 and while training a couple of female bodybuilders, my ego got the better of me and I put myself on an unsustainable path – for a while. Though I did not increase my training volume (sets & reps) at all, I did increase the frequency of my strength sessions; often training for 10 or 12 consecutive days prior to taking a rest day. I also began using creatine for the first time in my 30+ years of training.

My cardio protocol during this period was basically just a hard 2-mile hill run 5 days per week, followed by (10) all-out 70-yards sprints with little rest in-between. On the weekends I would engage in longer trail runs, and distance cycling – up to 40 miles.

After 18 months of pushing hard in the gym, I was using weights on most exercises that I had not used previously – I was a gym strong as I had ever been. I attribute these gains to good note taking, consistent training, a high level of concentration during the workouts, protein augmentation, and to the use of creatine.

Though I did not weigh myself hydrostatically during this period, I’ll suggest that by the end of those 18 months, I had only gained about 2 pounds of lean body mass (muscle), despite that I experienced profound gains in strength during this period. I peaked at roughly 160 pounds, and (estimating) 11% body fat.

Hole in my boot…

Because I pushed very hard in the gym, and with the running and cycling during that 18 month period, I eventually reached a burnout period. My body was just tired – most of the time. Living in a calorie defecate, despite that was not a huge defecate, may have also contributed to the burnout. The weight room became more an altar of obligation than the sanctuary it had been for nearly 30 years. I was experiencing continual body aches which I had not previously known. I was excessively tired through the course of my workdays. I was completely out of love with the ideal of recreational bodybuilding.

I took 6 weeks off, and relaxed my diet.

Reboot…

When I restarted after my layoff, I could not fully engage again. I wondered if I was trying to force something that wasn’t there. My body was still feeling the effects of pushing too hard for too long with not enough fuel. My strength training was uninspired, and down to 2-3 days per week. I also switched my cardio from running and sprinting, to walking on a treadmill at 15% grade at for 30 minutes 6 days per week. Since I hate running, and enjoy treadmill walking, this protocol will remain ongoing – it is sustainable for me.

Before I dug in to earn my way back into sustainable shape, I decided to take one more layoff – this time for 3 weeks with intent to reframe my mind as well as body, and contemplate what I was strength training really mean to me — to my essence.  During this phase I lived off Little Caesar’s, microwave burritos, Modelo Especial, and came to the eventual conclusion that I want my workouts, and eating to be sustainable always — but I already knew that, I just needed to remind myself of who I am. Definitely gained some body fat, but with no guilt whatsoever for having done so. When enough was enough, the weight room and vegetables began calling me once again – this time with a smile.

Despite the layoff, and the relaxed eating schedule, I jumped right into training with the heaviest weights (in most movements) that I have ever used. My emphasis of increasing poundages has been more focused on my primary compound movements (denoted below as 5 sets of 5 reps). On the lighter, one-dimensional stretching, and isolation movements (denoted below by as 3 sets of 8-10 reps), I have been using challenging weights, but have refused to sacrifice form for the sake of increased weights, or additional repetitions.

I have been rotating through an 8 workout cycle, on a 4 days on, 1 day off routine. My workouts, listed below, take less than 45 minutes each. My eating has been consistent with my last peak, the only exception being that I am maintaining bare minimum calorie defecate. As previously mentioned, my cardio has been limited to treadmill walking.

These workouts have not lent themselves to any excessive fatigue, or achiness. I attribute this largely to a relaxed cardio schedule, a little more food, and reduced strength session frequency. I remain convinced that, for me, too few rest days, as well as excessive running intensity had more to do with my previous aches, and lethargy, than my strength training has.

Lastly, within the scope of these workouts, I rest only long enough between sets to stretch out the muscles being worked during a particular movement. Example: After every set of a hamstring exercise, I stretch my hamstrings for 30 seconds. I rest long enough to stretch, and stretch long enough to rest.   Again, these sessions taking less than 45 minutes.  Routines below.  Videos below routines.

Chest/Triceps #1

Incline Bench Press Free Bar 5×5

Pec-Deck Flies 3×8-10

Flat Triceps Extension 4×5

Overhead Triceps Extension 3×8-10

 

Back/Biceps #1

Wide Grip Lat-Pulldown 5×5

T-Bar/Long Bar Row 3×8-10

Bench or Machine Bench Curls 5×5

 

Shoulders/Calves #1

Overhead Shoulder Press Free Bar 5×5

Cable Lateral Raise 3×8-10

Seated Calf Raise 5×8-10

 

Legs #1

Prone Leg Curls 3×8-10

Leg Extensions 3×8-10

Smith Machine Squats 5×5

 

Chest/Triceps #2

Machine Incline Bench Press 5×5

Dumbbell Flies 3×8

Triceps Pushdown 4×5

Triceps Overhead Cable Extensions 3×8-10

 

Back/Biceps #2

Bent Barbell Rows or Cable Mid-rows (I prefer cable due to an ongoing shoulder injury unrelated to lifting. Fuck running) 5×5

1-Arm Cable Rows 3×8-10 Raised Deadlifts 3×8-10

Concentration Curls 5×5

 

Shoulders/Calves #2

Dumbbell Overhead Press 5×5

Dumbbell Later Raise 3×8-10

Standing Calf Raise 5×8-10

 

Legs #2

Leg Press 5×5 Standing

Lunges 3×10

True Squats 2×20 (moderate weight)

Chest/Triceps #1

Incline Bench Press Free Bar 5×5

Pec-Deck Flies 3×8-10

Flat Triceps Extension 4×5

Overhead Triceps Extension 3×8-10

Back/Biceps #1

Wide Grip Lat-Pulldown 5×5

T-Bar/Long Bar Row 3×8-10

Low-Back Extensions 3×8-10

Bench or Machine Bench Curls 5×5

Shoulders/Calves #1

Overhead Shoulder Press Free Bar 5×5

Cable Lateral Raise 3×8-10

Seated Calf Raise 5×8-10

Legs #1

Prone Leg Curls 3×8-10

Leg Extensions 3×8-10

Smith Machine Squats 5×5

Chest/Triceps #2

Machine Incline Bench Press 5×5

Dumbbell Flies 3×8

Triceps Pushdown 4×5

Triceps Overhead Cable Extensions 3×8-10

Back/Biceps #2

Bent Barbell Rows or Cable Mid-rows (I prefer cable due to an ongoing shoulder injury unrelated to lifting. Fuck running) 5×5

1-Arm Cable Rows 3×8-10

Raised Deadlifts 3×8-10

Concentration Curls 5×5

Shoulders/Calves #2

Dumbbell Overhead Press 5×5

Dumbbell Later Raise 3×8-10

Standing Calf Raise 5×8-10

Legs #2

Leg Press 5×5

Standing Lunges 3×10

True Squats 2×20 (moderate weight)

Where this should lead…

My goal weight is 168 pounds bodyweight at roughly 14% body fat by May 30. Through my self-experimentation and note taking through the past 12 years or so, I believe this to be sustainable, ongoing. I would like to maintain these workouts and this condition at least until my early 60s, with few modifications, and only occasional layoffs. This should not put me anywhere near a state of depravity. We shall see. Pictures to follow – maybe.

Note that the exercises have a fairly equal blend of barbells, dumbbells, machines, and cables. Despite what nonsense floats around out there, there are values in all of these, so I use them all to my advantage.

As always, if you have specific questions about exercises, their values and applications, please contact me, via this website. Be well… rc

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Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I hit the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from The Billy Nayer Show.  Enjoy!

About Face… Book

Not real in the real world…

Several years ago, during a dinner discussion that involved the topic of social media, a friend suggested to me that,

“Facebook isn’t the real world”.

Ironically, it was Facebook that had reconnected she and I, and placed us at dinner that evening – after a decade of not seeing one another.   She’s no longer living, though her Facebook page is still quite active.  People post to her memory regularly as though she is actually seeing those posts.  Perhaps she is.  Even if not, maybe this is a modern, more interactive twist on laying flowers at the graveside.

 Changes within…

Several years ago when I realized Facebook had become too large a distraction for my level of discipline, I told another friend I was going to delete my Facebook account.  I had every intention of doing it that night.  When I explained this to her, she responded with,

“Please don’t!  You spice up my feed”.

My ego got the better of me, and that lone comment kept me from deleting my account.  I look back at that decision with regret, and as a pivotal point in my recent life.

That friend and I bantered quite a bit on Facebook early on, but we eventually went our separate ways, and are no longer in communication with one another.  And here I am three years later having invested far too much time into something with far too little return.

It’s all about Roy…

Rather than focus on editing my book, walking my dog, reading, or asking my elderly neighbor to sit by my fire pit and chat, I spend countless hours with my eyes fixed to a 17” window to the world, all for the instant gratification of a like, a comment, or the mindless amusement of a cat playing a xylophone.

When I ask myself why I post things on Facebook, why I comment, or which friend’s posts I choose to comment on, the only honest answer I can give must be reduced to some combination of the following:

–          To impress others

–          To seek the respect of others

–          To be perceived as knowledgeable or intelligent relative to a subject

–          To please others

–          To experience instant gratification during an otherwise tedious moment in my life

–          To demonstrate my senses of humor

–          To share something I feel others might enjoy, or benefit from

There are probably a few more reasons which branch off of these, but I believe these to be primary.  That last one though, to share something I feel others might enjoy, or benefit from, is the only reason that has legitimized Facebook for me.

Friends with benefits…

There are positive reasons to use Facebook.  Among them are connecting with likeminded people I would not otherwise have access to at a given moment.  I love that I can have a conversation with friends around the world about music, philosophy, or whether or not there is such a thing as clutch hitting in professional baseball.  Facebook, in a sense, is a global campfire.

Facebook; like a global campfire..

Facebook; like a global campfire…

It’s hard though, to distill the good conversations, from the bad.  That is where I struggle the most – in facing the relentless political and religious thrusting of opinions and positions at my psyche which is not looking for such information.  I have come to despise those moments for their ability to ruin other moments.  I tend to increasingly begrudge those who force that negativity upon me.  Even the topic of fitness, which is both my passion, and my livelihood, has been bastardized and abused by social media to the point where I have come to hate the ideal of fitness.

Because of this I recently deactivated my Facebook page, with one possible outcome being that I would never return to it.

Where’s Jhciacb…?

When I deactivate my account, roughly 20 people out of the 300 or so friends I have reached out to me by email or by text to find out if I had unfriended them.  It had not occurred to them that maybe I was taking a break, or perhaps unfriending myself from a time bandit with a greater downside than upside.  One at a time, I assured those who were truly concerned that no unfriending was done in the course of my absence.  I simply needed a break.

I’m single, I live alone, and I don’t own a television.  Facebook had become a large part of my social and entertainment life.  Feeling like I was missing something, I thought about bringing Facebook back, but I vowed to disconnect for at least one month.  If you are reading this by way of Facebook, then you know I lasted exactly 3 weeks.  I’m good with that.

What I missed most…

Like any form of entertainment or any tool, what one gets out of something is relative to what one puts into it.  I have always struggled with the blurry lines in life.  I believe the medical term for that is, being Jewish.

Sunday mornings.  Waking up with hot coffee under the cool pacific marine layer.  Sitting on my back porch with my laptop on my lap top, and my dog at my feet.  With the slight electric sound of Cowboy Junkies framing the mood, and with my view to the creek and the egrets in the immediate foreground, I get to share that very scene, some level of fun, and some amusement with 300 or people, many whom I have come to truly appreciate.

Sunday morning on the porch the best part of my week...

Sunday morning on the porch; the best part of my week…

Those Sunday mornings are among the best, most calm moments of my week.  I look forward to them.  I enjoy trading jokes with my brother, and our friends in the Midwest.  I may get to discover some new music.  I see some interesting photographs which might make me smile, or fill me with awe.  For those reasons, and a few others, I won’t turn my back on Facebook – yet.  I will though, use it less, and manipulate out of the picture, anyone willing to spew hatred as a means of pleasuring their own narrow mind.  Be well…  rc

Canyon Lands, Utah.  Photo credit: Lance Jones

Canyon Lands, Utah. Photo credit: Lance Jones

citrus

Macadamias, and citrus. Photo credit, DL Heaton

Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from David Lindley, and GE Smith.  Enjoy…

Cattle Drive…

Just right…

Aside from the relief pitcher in professional baseball, the recreational bodybuilder is perhaps the most idiosyncratic animal on the planet.  It is common knowledge among us that if all things in the workout are not wholly aligned with, and aimed at the center of the universe, no set of repetitions, no exercise, and no workout is valid.  It takes but one little thing to be out of place, and the whole ordeal is null, and void.

The right shorts must be worn.  A drink at the water fountain every 3rd set.  The bar on the bench press must be rolled back so many times before the liftoff.  Eye contact with lesser lifters causes the pump to instantly deflate.  No chalk…?  No deadlift.  These are just some examples of being, just right with the workout gods.  I have taken most of my workouts in the same gray tank-top for 12 years.  On days when said shirt is unavailable, I have a sincere feeling of being lost as I train.

Raising cattle…

Among the best compliments one can offer a bodybuilder is to say, “those aren’t calves, those are cattle” in reference to the lower legs.

Those who know me know that I take calf training very seriously when I’m in full-on bodybuilding mode.  More so than I should.  Perhaps this is because my genetic predisposition to large calves, is as Dick Cheney’s is to tolerance.  At least one of us was willing to admit weakness, and work hard to overcome.

For many years I trained calves in bare feet because Arnold did.  “Because Arnold did” is probably at the very root of my personality disorder.  As I have aged, I have estranged myself from that affliction.  However, from age 13-30 “because Arnold did” was my disease.  Though I don’t have imposing calves, they do stand out, and that is simply from years of consistent training.

Maybe not a Texas Longhorn, but well beyond being, just a calf...

Maybe not a Texas Longhorn, but well beyond being, just a calf…

About eight years ago I took to calf training in shoes rather than bare feet as Arnold did.  This was due in large part to a bunion I have expanding on the knuckle of my right big toe.  Also, Arnold be damned, I found that after 20 years of blind following, I was able to get deeper inside my calves, stimulate more growth and shape when wearing shoes while training them.  Perhaps it was Arnold’s drugs, and not his bare feet that made the larger impact for him…

Sole Mates…

Making the transition from training calves with shoes on vs. barefoot was not easy.  However, as both a runner and hoarder, I had many old pairs of running shoes to choose from.  The selection process took nearly a month, and involved at least 6 pairs of shoes that had previously been my primary running shoes.  Eventually my Goldilocks shoes were found; a pair of lesser Asics shoes which I received for free when I purchased a $200 pair to run a marathon in.

For 8 years these Asics were my sole calf training shoes.  They were as important in the equation as the equipment we trained on, and in a real sense, they were my training partners on lower-leg day – until today.   Worn, torn, and worn some more.  Washed.  Bleached.  Dried.  Worn more and more to a point of no return.  Holes in the toes.  Tread coming off.  Stability gone.  It’s time to say goodbye old friends.

I decent burial, I guess...

I decent burial, I guess…

Nothing beats a nice pair…

My split today called for shoulders, and calves – my first day in 8 years training with new partners.  I selected the pair of Mizuno running shoes which I had previously worn while running the Ragnar relay from Huntington Beach to San Diego.  Fuck running.

I selected this pair because their shape and structure are similar to the Asics I just laid to rest.  Narrow toe box.  Thick sole.  Not an abundance of stench due to my consistent lack of wearing socks.

My new mates...

My new mates…

Like any rookies, they did okay their first time out.  Not a stellar performance, but I drafted them for their future potential, not to have an immediate impact.  It will take time for my new calf shoes, and I to get more familiar with each other – to be on the same page.  Today we did Seated Calf Raises, 5 sets of 5 reps – heavy.  We followed that with Toe Presses on the leg press machine for 3 sets of 10 reps – moderate.  It was good.

I am hopeful that some level of soreness will manifest in my cattle overnight.  Should that happen, it will reinforce that I drafted the correct shoes.  If not, I may consider another pair by way of free agency.  We shall see.  Be well…  rc

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Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from Patrick Sweany.  Enjoy…

Dragons and dungeons…

Slaying Dragons…

Imagine you are a dragon slayer, and you know you’re among the very best at slaying dragons.  Every day you wake up, prepare yourself for the day, sharpen your sword, and step outside to fulfill your potential on behalf of the world.  Confidence abounds.

Soon you spot the first dragon of the day, and he is headed toward you in full glide.  You’re ready.  You have lived your whole life for this, and you know you are going to win.  The dragon approaches as if it’s his responsibility to be slayed.  You raise your sword just as high as your arm will reach.  You look him in the eye as he dives, take aim, and time it just right.  You lower your arm with all your might, and… you miss.  The dragon looks back with a sardonic smile as he flies away, and you stand there in failure.

Another dragon will arrive in just few minutes to experience the exact same result.  This has been your daily life for many years.  You spend most days wondering what your purpose really is.  You know you’re good at what you do, but the dragons never fly quite close enough.  Life feels empty.  You ask yourself why you aren’t successful anymore.  It wasn’t always this way…

How things were a decade ago...

How things were a decade ago…

The reason for the lack of outcome, of course, is that dragons fly, and you don’t.  You actually can fly, you choose not to anymore.  If you choose to fly, then the battle will be real, and there will be risk in confrontation.  You dislike confrontation so instead you wake each day hoping the dragon will fly into the sword, and accept his fate, though this has never happened.

Who’s at fault, really…?  There are two responsible parties in a dragon slaying; the dragon, and the slayer.  If they both show up, and do what they are expected to do, a successful slaying should be a non-issue.  The dragons in this case actually pay to be slayed.  It appears though, that some don’t necessarily want to be slayed.

Backing down is easy…

Of course I’m not talking about dragons.  Ask me what I do for a living, and I will give you a simple answer; I teach proper form in strength training.  That’s it.  That tenet is primary to anything else I attempt with my clients.  I teach strength training in a way that is so specific, so unique, that the only possible outcome when it is executed correctly is improvement.

I have discovered though, that most people I work with are not as dialed into the concept or the value of perfection in strength training as I am.  When push comes to shove in teaching this unique style of exercise, I often withdraw and allow the student to participate in a lesser fashion for my fear of confrontation, and the result is not maximized.  Too long I have created a habit in myself of accepting less than the student is capable of.  At that I have become internally frustrated, but the breakdown is 100% on me.

 A new approach to teaching…

I have become a good ear for many of contemporary my clients.  Male or female, I am a friend they can confide in during a workout with no fear of judgment.  I’m the parent that many of my teenage clients wish they really had.  I’m the good son that many of my seniors never had.  These friendships run deep.  In a sense, I am an accidental life coach.

good exercise form; it really is just a choice

Conversations over crunches are mutually beneficial, and I have gained much wisdom from my clients through the years.  As a friend to my clients though, I have not wanted to put boundaries on these conversations, always rationalizing that so long as some work is getting done, the workout is fruitful.  Inside though, I have hoped for more on the exercise side of things.

The productivity of a workout is a relative thing.  Even if the exercise isn’t primary to a particular session, the student always leaves feeling they have had a great workout because they are emotionally cleansed.  If there has been a breakdown on my part it’s that my focus on exercise beyond the conversations has been on volume of movements, and not quality.

Going forward, rather than focus on how many movements are completed during the course of the workout, I will place my primary emphasis back on quality of exercise.  There is more utility, in my opinion, in doing 4 movements in absolute form in the course of an hour, than doing 8 movements with a lesser emphasis on form.  At this point I can say the conversations are mutually important.  Managing this, this is my new dragon, and it’s time for me to fly once again.

Dead weight; it’s not an exercise…

Some dragons are nothing but gas...

Some dragons are nothing but gas…

Sadly though, there are some clients who won’t adapt.  I already know who they are.  I’m not even part of their workout equation.  Often times these people don’t even know I’m in the room.  They pay a great deal of money to go through the motions, toss weights around in a private gym where they can bitch, and moan about their fucked up lives, leave me to pick up the pieces as I walk through their toxic gasses, and as they storm out on completion.  It is me who has enabled this.  It is me that must now send them packing.  Wish me luck, because that too is another dragon.  Trainers take note: Dragon selection is everything.  Be well…  rc

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Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from The Heartless Bastards.  Enjoy…