Category Archives: Health & Fitness

Hitting the Redline: Six Week Fitness Self-Assessment

PressAfter the last competition’s poor showing I decided I needed to train smarter and more comprehensively. Problem is I don’t seem to be responding to high volume or heavy weight (90+% of max) as well as I used to. At least as often as I was training. My focus on overhead pressing left everything else weaker, and that was just getting in the way.

I read a StrongFirst article on training the seven basic movements, [SEVEN] BASIC HUMAN MOVEMENTS. Dan John’s five fundamentals I knew of, however the rotational and counter-rotational patterns I didn’t. I researched what would fit the template of Push, Pull, Hinge, Squats, Loaded Carry, and the two rotationals. I found I could just add a Figure 8 to Hold and Farmer Walks to the program I was on. I also changed the Rear Lunges to Tactical Lunges from the ETK Special Report #2.

So I now have six exercises to program: Get-Up, Bent-Over Row, One-Hand Swings (counter-rotational and hinge pattern), Tactical Lunges, Figure 8 to Hold, and Farmers Walks. Last week I tried to superset them: push/pull, hinge/squat, rotation/carry. I got tired a little quicker than I thought, so I tried it as a circuit. That way I’ll hit everything at least once. When I can’t do a Get-Up with good form I’ll be done with that day’s training. My goal is 5 rounds, then I’ll shave time off my rest periods until I’m at :30 seconds. Then I’ll weight and increase my rest back to where it was and start over.

I had been dropping to only training a full session twice a week and partially one other day. So I will listen to my body, cut my training to twice a week, Monday and Friday with plenty of recovery in between. Plus I’ll continue building up to a handstand push up and if I’m particularly froggy, sprint.

Let’s see what body composition I’m starting with:

Body Composition (inches)

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.25                14.20              -.05

Shoulders                      43.5                  43.2              -.30

Chest                              37.5                   37.5                      +0.5

Waist                             32.75                     32.5         -0.25

Biceps                           12.5              12.5               0

Forearms                      11.            11.1                        +0.1

Thighs                         21.25                 21.1                    -0.15

Calves                          13.5                   13.5                      0

Weight                  153.6lbs          152        -1.6lbs

Body Fat %                16.1%                15.6%         -0.5%

Lean Body Mass    128.9lbs            128.3         -0.6lbs

June 2015 Competition Day

Competition Day on the half year mark. This is the test of my program except with one caveat, I got sick two weeks ago. I lost five pounds and spent most of the first day sleeping in various positions. After making a call to let my body work on bringing me back to previous levels of health without breaking it down with training I do feel weaker. So I don’t know what today would bring.

All right, weighed in at  154.6lbs.

Military Press test with a 58lb kettlebell. First attempt I pressed it once each side. Could not believe that was all I had so I waited 15 minutes to try again. Even worse, once on my right and nothing on my left.

Previously

  • Right: 3 reps w/58.2lb (62lbs/39%BW)
  • Left: 4 reps w/58.2lb (63lbs/40%BW)

My singles with 58lbs at 154.6lbs is 37.5% of my bodyweight.

Five Minute Snatch Test with the 53.6lb kettlebell. It was 50 reps three months ago. Today was 37 reps. A 13 rep decrease so that program is most definitely a failure.

Now to set my sights on September 1st…

I’m Shrinking! Six Week Assessment

We’re two weeks away from the competition day on June 1 and I’ll predict that I have added a rep to my military press record. The snatches I’m not so sure of.  The six-week assessment creeped up so I had to evaluate what the diet’s been doing. I know I’m getting stronger with the ease my 53lb kettlebell press during training as compared to before. I did have to adjust with the program though.

The four-day a week training I dropped to three days, and added practicing the progressions to a handstand push up from Convict Conditioning. I think if I can do that, my military press will get stronger. I kept my Clean&Press rep scheme the same, though I added rest according to the 1:4-6 work/rest ratio after reading a StrongFirst article, which helped me complete the sessions. I changed the swings from the one-arm variant with the 53lb kettlebell for 10 sets of 10 to 2 sets of 25 with the 71.4lb kettlebell. I’m curious how the Snatch test will go now.

The diet has been slowly chopping fat off without sacrificing too much muscle. I lost 2.2lbs of fat with 1.6lbs of muscle lost, not too worried. After this next cycle is over I’ll start a hypertrophy program, with a slight dietary adjustment, mostly extending my eating window from 9 hours to 12. It’s been a easy diet to stick with.

Body Composition (inches)

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.5                14.25              -.25

Shoulders                      45                  43.5               -1.5

Chest                              37.5                   37                      -0.5

Waist                             33.5                     32.75         -0.25

Biceps                           12.8              12.5                        -0.30

Forearms                      11.1            11.0                        -0.1

Thighs                         22                 21.25                    -0.75

Calves                          13.5                   13.5                      0

Weight                  156.4lbs          153.6        -2.9lbs

Body Fat %                17.1%                16.1%         -1.0%

Lean Body Mass    129.7lbs            128.9         -0.8lbs

I may have shrunk a bit as the fat went away, that’s my guess at least. After the program I’ll do a program of Max Shank’s I saw on the DragonDoor page until the cycle is done. I’ll continue eating in the 9 hour window, going off what Dan John said about going from a caloric deficit to surplus triggers growth since the body isn’t used to the amount of food.

Slow but Steady

This assessment snuck up on me, honestly. I have been disciplined with my eating according to the Time Restricted Diet which naturally cut my calories to over a thousand less a week. It was a little hard at first with my growling stomach arguing with my willpower. What helped is that weekends are free, so long I don’t raid a dessert bar at a buffet. Gives me something to look forward to. It took awhile for me to notice the weight to fall and I’m hoping that’s because its mainly fat while I keep the protein up so I don’t waste much muscle.

As far as training goes I changed over to a daily Rite Of Passage type program. 4 days a week I press the 53lb kettlebell, then swing it for a 100 reps and then carry the 70lb around or my pair of 53s. I think it may be a little much for me, I’m not recovering well. So I will dial back the swings to 50 a day. Not sure if I’ll just use the 53, the 70, or alternate on different days.

Either way, here’s what it’s done for body comp. In two months we’ll see if it worked to get my press strength up and maintained my conditioning.

Body Composition (inches)

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.5                14.5              0

Shoulders             44.5                  45               +0.5

Chest                      37.5                   37.5                      0

Waist                             34.0                        33.5         -0.5

Biceps                    12.8              12.8                         0

Forearms                   11.2            11.1                                     -0.1

Thighs                         22.8                 22.0                          -0.8

Calves                          13.8                   13.5                          -.30

Weight                  158.8lbs          156.4        -2.4lbs

Body Fat %                18.1%                17.1%         -1.0%

Lean Body Mass    130.1lbs            129.7         -0.4lbs

I lost most of the gains and I can only blame my poor choice of diet. The Time-Restricted Plus plan is supposed to be sustainable so we’ll see.

 

March 2015 Competition 

Dan John says keep the goal, the goal, and a way to do that is to have a date set that helps you focus. For me it’s the 1/2 bodyweight kettlebell military press and 100 snatches in 5 minutes. That’s how I mark progress athletically every three months. 

So after tying on a five pound girly weight to my 53lb Kettlebell I tested my one-rep max.

  • Right: 3 reps w/58.2lb (62lbs/39%BW)
  • Left: 4 reps w/58.2lb (63lbs/40%BW)

I maintained my max and relative strength compared to the 159 I weighed in at with my right, and gained strength on my left. Simple and Sinister kept the pressing strength up. 

My conditioning was a little lacking…

  • 50 snatches with the 53lb Kettlebell in 5 minutes (-4 reps)

It’s a half step back on conditioning but still much better than the sad numbers I started with last year. In a week I’ll be exactly 12 weeks from the next competition and I’ll begin a program with a heavy press focus to see what happens.