Saturday, July 31, 2010

Body weight training

First off, I have to divulge that I am sitting in my bed right now with an ice pack strapped to my lower back contemplating changes that I may have to permanently make to my own training regimen.

I threw out my back on Friday doing deadlifts and  this is starting to become a yearly occurrence.  Last time I did this was around the Christmas season and, like an idiot, I didn't allow it to properly heal. I didn't ice it from the get go and every time I thought I was feeling better I would go straight to deadlifts and re injure myself. Needless to say, it took lot longer than it should have  to heal because of my own eagerness to get back under a barbell.

I really love to lift heavy weight, it makes me happy but I definitely won't be able to do it for ever and heavy deadlifts may not be an option any more.

I have a condition in my spine known as a Pars Defect and I believe it may be catching up to me. This means I now face the prospect of making some drastic changes to my own training regimen.

Using your own body as resistance

I have always been a huge proponent of body weight training and have been fascinated by the feats of gymnasts and  masters of hand balancing. These are the people who I believe have the greatest relative strength of any athlete. I have used this type of training before to rehab back injuries with great success and may now have to change my training to center on these exercises instead of supplement with them.

Let's start with the basics. We have planks, push ups, sit ups and pull ups. These form the foundation of any bodyweight regimen and is where we should begin. There isn't a ton of mystery here and these exercises can be worked on the a great deal of proficiency. There are even entire websites dedicated to getting 100 push ups in a single set and a site on the way dedicated to getting 25 pull ups.

As I stated you can and use these exerises indefinitely to achieve a great amount of relative strength (strength to weight ratio). Eventually though you may become bored with the same exercises over and over and wish to aspire to some new feats to bodyweight greatness.

Lever, Planche and Manna

These static holds are the measurement of gymnastic strength. They involve all the muscles of the core chest and shoulder girdles. They require such intense contraction to achieve and hold that training them to any degree can have great benefits to anybody willing to dedicate some time and effort. They are difficult and require a great deal of skill to master but the idea is to start slowly.

Front and back lever
When learning the levers you will need to start with the tuck versions. Begin with the tuck front lever, when you can hold the tuck lever for 60 seconds then it is time to move on to the advanced tuck lever and then on to the full front lever. Follow the same progression s for the back lever as well.

Tuck front lever                                                                           Advanced tuck front lever


Front lever                                                                                  Back lever

Same as with the levers, when learning to hold a planche you will have to start with the most basic tuck versions, beginning with the frog stand. You may have to begin the frog stand with your head on the floor until you get the strength and balance necessary to raise your head off of the floor. Don't get discouraged the first few levels of progression cone fairly quickly.

Frog stand                                       

Tuck Planche

Straddle Planche                                            Planche

Manna is an extremely difficult move to learn. For anybody who has dedicated the necessary time to learn it it is the hallmark of extreme bodyweight control along with the iron cross

Ring training
If asked what is the single most effective piece of strength training equipment I own, I would say without a doubt, it is my rings. Gymnastic rings provide a tool for training all of the upper body muscles i all the ranges of motion and under unlimited tension. They can be used for pull ups, muscle ups, dips, levers, planches. The list goes on and on. They can be lowered to just above the floor to add difficulty to push ups. You can add them to any upper body bodyweight exercise to increase the challenge. They are pretty cheap to puck up from and I personally have to most fun with my rings than with any other piece of equipment i own.

The single  greatest advantage to bodyweight training is it is so convenient and accessible.  You can do it anywhere and any time.... for free. Playgrounds are wonderful and anybody who has seen me cut loose on a set of monkey bars will agree. You do not need a gym to get a great workout

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I haven't forgot about you

If you have noticed that it's been a while since I've posted a blog, My wife was visiting from Halifax last week so I was taking some time off to spend with her during her visit.

I'll be resuming shortly and I thank you for your patience.

All the best


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Musings

As of right now I'm just sitting on my bed on a Sunday morning. I have a cup of dark roast coffee with a little bit of cocoa powder in it beside me, it is one of my favorite Sunday morning rituals, and my roommate is watching tv shows about trucks.

We spent the last week in the grip of a record breaking heat wave here in Chilliwack B.C and it seems as though it is finally starting to crack. It is slightly overcast and the breeze seems, thankfully, to be a little bit cool.

We are in the midst of our final three exams here at paramedic school. We had a written exam on Thursday, a practical exam on Friday based on a trauma scenario and on Monday we have our final exam. It is to be a practical exam based on a medical emergency (ie; heart attack, anaphylaxis, athsma etc.) I'm actually looking forward to tomorrow, as I like the medical scenarios more than trauma when it comes to skit medicine. Though I can tell that when I get out in the ambulance I'll be looking forward to the trauma calls to keep thing interesting.

My wife comes to visit in six days. We've been married ten months on my birthday and we have spent half of it apart thanks to my military training. Though it will be all worth it in the end. Training is almost done and we can look forward to being together permanently very soon.

The hotel room is booked, flight arrangements are made I may still rent a car but monies are tight after getting the fancy hotel room for a week. I turn 30 on the 19th and I'm going to have my wife with me this year. That is the greatest birthday present I could think of. Last year I had just graduated from basic training the day before my birthday and I was shipped off to sit on base in Borden, Ontario to rot while waiting for my training to begin. It was a horrible experience.

So much has changed since then, it's amazing what can happen in a year.  In the last year I have graduated basic training, got married, spent a month in meaford sitting in a trench and on guard for an imaginary enemy while hallucinating from sleep deprivation. I've done  four months in Borden learning the clinical skills of a medic in the Canadian military. I am now three quarters of the way through the paramedic phase of our training in beautiful Chilliwack B.C.  I have climbed up two mountains, Started a health and fitness blog and revamped my own training so that I have been blowing all my old personal fitness records away.

Now so that you don't walk away from this post without gaining anything, I'd like to give you a few links for your paleo pleasure

Here is a good breakdown of the paleo diet, which CaveMan2.0 is based off of. It seems that everybody has their own ideas of how one should follow the diet so I recommend studying as many variations as possible and drawing your own conclusions.

Eat move improve's breakdown on the importance of vitamin D. I have linked to this one before but It is one of my favorites

I have spoken about how eating like a  CaveMan can improve testosterone, and hgh levels but how about the effects on estrogen in our feminine counterparts? Mark Sisson sheds Some light here.

Mike OD sheds some light on taking control of life's mental battle here

And finally a slightly humorous video of myself trying to show off and getting caught in the process. I figured I'd do some muscle ups for the camera with 20 pounds of ankle weights on. We didn't think ahead about how the straps were looping down and I got to star in my own epic fail video.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Ok so I know this may be a little bit off topic but I've been harassing the nice guys at to give me a  license to their product MacKeeper. They have been nice enough to agree so I feel I should give their product a fair review.

I do all my Blogging on a Mac. I just got my mac so maintaining it is still a bit of a mystery to me. I found this program called MacKeeper and downloaded the free trial and it is pretty incredible. At first I was looking for a program to fish out all my duplicate files and remove them because itunes and iphoto have an annoying habit of making two or three copies of every song and photo on my hard drive.

After stumbling upon MacKeeper I was pretty overjoyed. It did what I wanted along with tons of other features and it did it all with only the push of one button. I love the program and I would definitely recommend it to anybody who owns a mac.

I know this sounds like a shameless plug but I am accepting no money for this review. I have been harassing the poor guys over at zeobit for a free license and they have been nice enough to oblige. I have to like it if I am willing to risk a harassment suit for it. Find the link in the right  hand sidebar.