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PaulG's Challenge, Rebooted


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Time for a reboot!

 

This challenge will hopefully break a cycle I’ve had in the time I’ve been here. I’ve posted regularly in my training log for years at a time, set myself good goals and met them, made good progress… but whenever I’ve tried to join a challenge I’ve always dropped out.

 

For the most part, I think a big part of the reason is I’ve tried to bite off more than I can chew — not fitness-wise, but writing-wise. I can’t write tons of long posts if I want to succeed. So, let’s consider this a respawn, and my secret behind-the-scenes goal is to actually finish this frickin thing this time.

 

Time for me to ditch the memes and fancy roleplaying stuff. Let’s jump in.


Goals:

1) Strength: Do a set of 5 false grip, chest-to-bar pullups. Currently my PR (since I restarted strength training in March) is 3. Although to some folks this might seem LOL easy, I have long, personal history of painfully slow progress with this particular form of pullups. In the past I’ve worked on them for months at a time and never gotten more than 4 good ones. I’m progressing better than I ever have before, so with a goal of 5, I can be reasonably sure I’ll make it in the challenge timeframe as long as I work at it, even if I have a setback or two.

 

2) Mobility: Stretch every day, with a max of 6 days off. I have always been inflexible, and when doing parkour I tend to use my strength to power through moves that a little flexibility would make much easier on me. My main problem areas are getting my arms overhead, hamstrings, and hips. The desk job doesn’t help. I’ve refocused my stretching routine to specifically target those areas, so now I just have to put in the time consistently — which has always been my problem in the past.

 

3) Diet: End my diet break at no more than 17% bodyfat. I’ve been cutting aggressively through most of quarantine (easy without much of a social life to worry about), and right now I’m down from about 23% bodyfat to a little under 18%. The background of this challenge is the end of my first cut, hitting 15% by 05/18/20, then a two-week diet break to give myself a chance to recharge. I have lots of experience with weight loss, cutting, bulking, refeeds… but not much experience with just chilling and recharging. I don’t necessarily expect problems, but I’m a touch nervous about regaining fat, so my goal should keep the diet break under control.

 

4) Life: Finish The Cooking Gene, by Michael Twitty. I waffled a lot about the life goal for this challenge — what with quarantine, there’s plenty of things I could throw up here. I need a real home office, for example, and I want to consciously start saving money for travel. But for some reason, nothing on my to-do list bugs me as much as stalling out in my reading of this book. Michael Twitty’s writings led me to donate to a museum exhibit in New York, and I even made plans to travel to its opening in March (before all those plans had to be canceled)… but despite all that I can’t manage to get through this frickin book. I know if I didn’t set this goal I would probably never finish it. I’m halfway right now with about 250 pages to go. If I can read 8-10 pages a day, I’ll have this one in the bag.

 


Super Quarantine R&R Extra Credit Bonus Goal:
Make this cocktail.

 


We all need to make sure we have ways to relax in quarantine, right? Just some little project that only exists because it makes us happy? Welp, this will be my mine.

 

In the last couple years I’ve become a little bit of a bar enthusiast and I’ve followed the work of Dave Arnold for a little while now. He does super innovative work. I first saw this video of him making a red-onion infused martini he called “The Debbie” about a year ago, and it got me hooked on the idea of unusual flavors in food and drinks, even though I sadly didn’t have the cool tech to reproduce all that fancy-looking stuff.

 

Well, now I do have access to some of that tech, and I say if it can be done, it should be! Plus, I have been eating a LOT of ham and Swiss sandwiches during this cut, and this seems like a damn good pairing to treat myself to once or twice.

 

Mind you… I don’t actually have a recipe for this thing. I’ll need to tinker a little to find out how this onion mixture is made. But I’m pretty confident I can at least make something that tastes good (eventually).

 

Finally, for posterity…

 

Current Stats:

Height: 6’ 0”
Weight: 190.3 lbs
Age: 31
Waist Measurement: 31 inches
Bodyfat: 17.3 - 17.6%

 

 

Current Progress Photos:

 

progress5-2-20.thumb.JPEG.33d32213c6befb226440dd7ae70edc74.JPEG

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Welcome back Paul.

 

1 hour ago, PaulG said:

I can’t write tons of long posts if I want to succeed.

 

Don't worry about it.  Put your energy into getting your goals done.  Post what you find helpful for you.

 

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great to see you back!  Following along for this :)

 

1 hour ago, PaulG said:

Do a set of 5 false grip, chest-to-bar pullups

After reading this I went over to my pullup bar just to see how many I can do now (my PR is 3).  I got a grand total of 0 :D 

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52 minutes ago, Hazard said:

Welcome back Paul.

 

 

Don't worry about.  Get your shit done.  Post what you find helpful for you.

 

 

Working on Bar, or working on Rings?

 

 


Thanks Hazard. It’s good to hear someone else say it. :) So many folks on here seem to be great at doing a whole life blog thing, it pays to keep in mind that at the end of the day this is my log, for my benefit, and should fit into my schedule.
 

I’m working on a bar (built it myself!). I have rings, and in the past I’ve worked ring pull-ups hoping they would translate to a good chest-to-bar pull, but that route has never panned out for me. Plus, I like the feedback the bar gives. You get a thump in the chest and you know exactly how high you got.

 

The bar false grip I adapted from Beastskills articles and a few old hat folks around here, it’s an extreme false grip, almost just hanging by my wrists.

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25 minutes ago, WhiteGhost said:

great to see you back!  Following along for this :)

 

After reading this I went over to my pullup bar just to see how many I can do now (my PR is 3).  I got a grand total of 0 :D 

 

Thanks!

 

Hah, C2B stuff is tough, you basically only get it if you work in that range of motion, so plenty of folks who can do tons more pullups than me can't get the chest to bar. At least not without a kip. OTOH, I just saw a pretty sweet video of you doing a bunch of stuff that's not even a twinkle in my eye. It will be a long time before I even try a press to handstand, though I really want to do one someday.

 

--

 

Posting my meal plan for posterity. I'm not much of a meal planner, but I do really enjoy cooking. Usually I handle the nightly question of what's for dinner by excitedly thinking about cooking throughout the day, planning a meal that sounds like a fun project, and hitting the store on the way home from work to gather groceries for the project. Quarantine means I can't do that as much these days -- shopping like that tends to waste food, but more to the point, I have to limit my shopping trips to once a week at the most. So lately I've been planning my meals on a weekly basis. It's worked well -- I try to sync them so they require roughly the same set of ingredients, I can keep the fridge stocked and empty it out efficiently, and I've found I finish cooking a lot quicker when I don't have to spend time pondering what I'll be cooking.

 

Anyway, here's the plan for this week. Not directly related to my goals, but it does sort of illustrate how I'm eating while on a cut.

 

Meal Plan

 

Monday:
Oyakodon (chicken and egg rice bowl)

 

Tuesday:
Zhacai Rousi (stir fry of pork slivers and preserved mustard tuber)

 

Wednesday:
Shrimp Fra Diavolo (pasta, shrimp, spicy tomato sauce)

 

Thursday:
Yuxiang Cold Chicken (shredded chicken breast in "fish-fragrant" pickled chile sauce)

 

Friday:
Poached Chicken Tacos (homemade tortillas, homemade salsa, homemade sour cream)

 

Saturday:
Suki Haeng (Thai stir fry of chicken, glass noodles, and fermented tofu)

 

Sunday:
Sour Curry with Shrimp? / Lemongrass Pork Chops (cross that bridge when I come to it)

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15 hours ago, WhiteGhost said:

I love the international variety in your menu!

 

Thanks! Love myself some Thai food, and got Fuchsia Dunlop’s new book on Sichuan food recently. When I decided to start cutting I just flipped open my cookbooks to their sections for appetizers and grilled foods. Worked out pretty well. :D

 

I realized last night just how aggressively I’ve been cutting.

 

- Six weeks into my strength training, my body’s starting to have a harder time recovering. Lots of little aches and pains as I went to bed — bruises on my right knee and right deltoid, and my left shoulder’s rotator cuff is giving me teeny-tiny little signs that it might be getting pissed off. Wrists and elbows are sometimes achy, sometimes not… makes sense, since I’m pushing myself hardest with pullups and handstands at the moment.

 

- I finally pulled my MFP info for the last month of my cut and holy hell. Since 4/6, I’ve lost on average 2.74 lbs of fat per week. My calorie goal is 1520 kcal/day. When I chose it, I thought I was going easy on myself — in the past, I’ve always cut at closer to 1400. Well, I guess all the walking and running around the park I’ve been doing during quarantine has changed something about how much I burn. I’m not freaking out, quite — I don’t really subscribe to the idea that I can wreck my metabolism over just a few weeks of aggressive cutting, and I have a definite endpoint on May 18th. But I’m glad I planned for a diet break, because if I were to take this cut longer, I’d be worried about some muscle loss.

 

No muscle loss so far, by the way. My lean mass is tracking rock-solidly between 156 and 158 lbs throughout April.

 

Food and sleep will both need to be on point for the next two weeks. I measured in with a 30 7/8” waist today, putting me at 17.04% bodyfat, and 4.6 lbs to lose in order to hit 15%. This means I can probably ease up the gas a little and eat a few more calories until break time.

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All right, since I'm going to be posting my workout logs here for the time being, it's time to post the legend for my workouts. I use kind of weirdsauce notation that includes a higher level of detail than most, so sometimes folks have trouble reading it. Here we go:

 

Workout Log Legend

Since my training is primarily bodyweight, I use a notation that allows me to log a lot of variables. I log weight (if used), sets, reps, my Form quality, and my rate of perceived exertion.

Form:

a: high-quality form maintained throughout the set. No issues or very minor issues.

b: Average/above-average form. No major issues, but maybe some smaller details need ironing out. (For example, didn't hit my chest to bar quite where I wanted in a pull-up, or didn't focus on scapular retraction as much as I could have in a row.)

c : Below average form. I did the exercise, but didn't do it right. Some possible major issues, though not severe safety issues.In chest-to-bar pullups, chest didn't hit the bar.

d: Poor form, major problems. This is probably a signal I should be ending the set early. If I didn't, I probably deserve chastisement.

RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion):

I shamelessly stole Waldo's system for grading his RPEs, which he outlined in a blog post on StrengthUnbound.com (which sadly, no longer exists). Since it’s tough to find a good explanation on this anymore, here’s mine.

 

My rating is based on Borg’s Rating of Perceived Exertion system, which is used sometimes in the sports training world. The idea is to track how close to failure I get in each set of an exercise. The original system is a 1-10 scale, but I took a page from the book of an old-hat member (Waldo) and chucked that out the window. The idea is that strength workout sets should nearly always go close to failure, if not to failure itself, so I have no interest in the first 6 numbers on the scale.

 

E: Easy work. Two or more reps left in the tank. This covers pretty much any number from 1-7. My goal is to only see this letter when I’m doing rehab/prehab exercises, or remedial work to build up joint strength, balance or form, like pistol prep work. Otherwise, I should be pushing harder.

 

X: Held one rep in the tank. Rep speed slowed noticeably, slight grind, but not at failure. This is where I try to keep most of my work, especially early in the workout.

 

Y: Hit failure or very close when I’m working out calm, may have stopped right before physically crapping out, but couldn’t have performed another rep without really amping myself up. Final rep was grinding and slow.

 

Z: Hit true failure and needed to pump myself up to do it — jumping, making noises, etc. Very slow, grinding final rep.


/: denotes left/right reps in a set of a single-limb exercise. For example, 5/3 reps on a pistol squat means 5 reps on my left leg, 3 reps on my right.

(): used for my eccentric exercises where I need to note both reps and time under tension. For example, a set of pull-up negatives shown as 3(6s) is 3 reps of 6 seconds each.

 

There are other techniques that deserve extra notation, of course, but these are the ones I'm using in my current workout.

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Last night I ate, and ate, and ate. First time I’ve ever made oyakodon — I was inspired by J. Kenji López-Alt’s recent video. To make it fit my macros, I kept the eggs to one scrambled and one raw yolk on top, but about 3/4 lb of chicken thigh, which was... a lot to down.

 

Between that, the last half-bar of a stash of lemon bars I’ve been stretching, and a whiskey sour with the white of that second egg... not a bad Monday. And I woke up with a 30.75” waist. :D

 

I did stretch last night, did not read any Cooking Gene. Instead, @@mu's post on pike push-up technique led me to this article at Antranik.com. TLDR: pike pushups are an exercise that are tough to progress with because people aren’t controlling enough variables in their form when they practice, and the laws of leverage that are at play with them are more complicated than just “get more upside down = harder”. I see myself in this article. Pike pushups have frustrated me for as long as I’ve been doing them because I seem never seem to be able to make consistent progress with them over time. Now I can see it’s because I’m not keeping track of how far my feet are from my hands, or where my head touched down in relation to my hands. That means every time I’ve tried, I’ve been doing movements with wildly different difficulty.

 

I’ve had a feeling for a while that the feet and hands positioning issue was a problem — I just didn’t realize it was THIS big a problem, big enough to screw with my progress. I’m going to figure out a consistent setup for them starting with tonight’s workout.

 

Finally, this isn't exactly goal-related, but it IS keeping me happy during quarantine...

 

IMG_2222.jpg.6f54e9d4667dfe61961203265c0ce37c.jpg

 

I'm making pancetta. Dry-cured, unsmoked Italian bacon. If there's anything I've been craving during this cut, it's Roman pasta. You can't beat pasta tossed in a bright tomato sauce and peppered with chunks of savory, fatty pork belly -- unless you cured that pork belly yourself. It may be ugly now, but soon it will be a big, beautiful slab of delicious.

 

Curing and hanging pancetta to dry is about a 1.5 - 2 week process, so it should be ready just in time for my diet break. And this has the advantage of not costing $15 a pound. :D

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Oooh. I'm impressed by the cooking. And I want to know how the red onion martini turns out. But I think Hazard got it right; the challenge should be useful to you, so only write as much as you want.

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On 5/5/2020 at 8:07 PM, Harriet said:

Oooh. I'm impressed by the cooking. And I want to know how the red onion martini turns out. But I think Hazard got it right; the challenge should be useful to you, so only write as much as you want.

 

Got it! Short and sweet. No words wasted. On it. Glad yer here. 😁

 

Red onion martini is going to be a trip, I wonder if I can have it with a few slices of the pancetta... I'll try and share a little of the process. But first, I need supplies. Right now it feels a little dicey to go to the store just for a bag of red onions and some gin, but maybe I can start pulling something together this weekend.

 

--

 

Today is a workout day. I do a full-body routine T-Th-Sat.

 

Workout Log 5/5/20


Warmup

- I do roughly the same warmup every day. Posting it below for posterity, but I don't plan to post it again, waste of space.

Spoiler

Warmup
Hollow Hold - 30 sec
Reverse Plank - 30 sec
Planche Lean - 15 sec
Fingertip Plank - 10 sec
Wrist Pushups - 8
DB Wrist Extensions - 8/8
Wall Slides - 8-10
Straight Leg Romanian Deadlifts - 10
Standing 1-Leg L - 10 sec / 10 sec
Fingertip Dead Hang - 10 sec
False Grip Dead Hang - 15 sec
Wall Shrugs - 5-8
German Hangs - 5

 

Skill Work


Wall Handstand Work: 5 minutes


RTO Support: 22s,22s,22s,19s

 

Strength


Wide Ring Rows: 11a-x, 12a-x, 12.5a-y


Chair Split Squats: 7/7a-e, 7/7a-e, 7/7a-e


False Grip Chest-to-Bar Pullups: 3aab-x, 4aabb-x, 4aabc-y, 3abb-x

- Thought about doing a few negatives at the end of the pullups to eke out a little more time under tension in the top range of motion, but decided to save my shoulders the stress.

- Notation is a little different for C2B pullups since my main drive with these is getting the bar as high as possible. I have an RPF rating for each individual rep. A is a rep that gets as high on the bar as I'm able to (currently sternum level), B is hitting the bar with my chest but higher up, C is not hitting the bar at all, D I suppose is falling into a stupor and hanging motionless from the bar like @Mad Hatter's creepy-ass crow.


Wide Ring Pushups: 5a-x, 5a-x, 5a-y


Reverse Hypers: 5a-x, 6a-x, 6a-x


Pike Pushups (32in): 3(8s)a-x, 3(8s)c-x, 3(6s)b-x

- In keeping with @@mu's help with my pike pushup form, I set up something new for these. Before I was just doing them in a random spot on the floor (like a jerk). Now I have a tall stool on its side, which I'm putting my feet on; it elevates them about 9 inches. I'm also carefully marking where I put my hands in relation to the stool. Right now they're 32 inches apart. That's far wider than what I was doing before.

- At first the negatives felt a little too easy, but after taking a video of my form I can see I'm struggling (though not totally failing) to keep my elbows tucked in, even with this new easier setup. I'm also struggling to keep my back from arching in the last rep or two. I'm going to stick with this setup for a while and really try to nail my form with the negatives before I move on to anything more taxing.


Hollow Holds: 30s, 30s-, 30s-

- I was going to do hanging L-sits like usual, but when I did my 30-second hollow hold in my warmup I noticed myself trembling. So on a lark I decided hey, if I think I’m too cool for school, why not prove it by smoking it as strength work? Show yourself it’s not just a weakness in your core you’ve been ignoring. Well, I did the thing. Surprisingly, it was easier than I expected, wasn’t even tempted to eye the stopwatch until the last couple seconds of the last set.

 


Cooldown

 

Compression Work: 4x10s

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Hiya pike press fellow fighter :D

Also in for the recipes :P

 

2 hours ago, PaulG said:

I'm also carefully marking where I put my hands in relation to the stool. Right now they're 32 inches apart. That's far wider than what I was doing before.

 

32 inch is like 81 cm? that sounds super wide to me. I have found it harder to keep elbows in with a wider width. What is your shoulder width?

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4 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

In for fooood! And cocktails. Wait are you actively trying to torture yourself when cutting? 😂

 

Hah! There's often a tiny bit of room in the calorie budget... I don't drink much, but I don't totally abstain when cutting. I'll have the odd glass of wine with dinner, or make myself a half-portion of a cocktail. Last night was a Manhattan. I think whiskey pairs nicely with a lot of Chinese dishes.

 

44 minutes ago, KB Girl said:

What a useful way to log! Thanks for the inspiration.

 

oh and you should put a warning on your thread to not read when hungry 😋 

 

Thanks! And I dunno, I kind of like the ambush. Smash cut to photos of fatty pork!

 

2 hours ago, WhiteGhost said:

That was a very interesting read and tracks very closely with what I have learned by trial and error.  I would probably be much further along if I had been following this advice from the beginning

 

You and me both... 🙁 pike pushups and their progressions have been my kryptonite for basically my whole history with bodyweight. I've had a goal of good headstand pushups at least since I started my training log back in 2013. I was 24 then. I've always used Steven Low's material on it in Overcoming Gravity, which is generally an excellent book. But it doesn't have nearly this level of detail on the form. And surprise, I've always flopped around within the progression, having days when they felt easy, then stalling for weeks at a time, then finally getting frustrated and moving up a progression even though I wasn't ready for it... in retrospect it seems obvious that I should have controlled the form more carefully. But them's the breaks when you're coaching yourself, I guess. Sometimes you don't know enough to question what you're doing wrong.

 

9 hours ago, @mu said:

Hiya pike press fellow fighter :D

Also in for the recipes :P

 

 

32 inch is like 81 cm? that sounds super wide to me. I have found it harder to keep elbows in with a wider width. What is your shoulder width?

 

Good question! It's been a long time since I measured my shoulders, so long that I excitedly took a circumference measurement before I realized that's not what you're asking at all. 😅 From delt to delt, my shoulder span seems to be 19.25 inches (48.8 cm). Across the tops of my shoulders it's more like 16 inches (40.6 cm).

 

Now I'm rereading your post and I'm wondering if you thought the 32 inch measurement was how far apart my arms were planted on the ground? If so, sorry about the confusion. My hands are planted at roughly shoulder width apart, and my feet are 32 inches behind them, on the stool. Your question was helpful, though, because after measuring myself I realized I habitually place my hands about 12 inches apart, which is too narrow.

 

When I look back over Antranik's form he seems to have his hands placed just outside the tops of his shoulders. For me that means there should be 16 inches of space between my hands. Doh. Maybe that's why my elbows have been flaring so much, I'm unknowingly making the movement more difficult. I just now tried one with the right hand placement, and a single rep was difficult but my elbows seemed to be right in line.

 

So you've saved me again! Thanks. :D

 

--

 

Speaking of recipes...

 

Zhacai Rousi may be one of the easiest and lowest-calorie meals I know how to make, no joke. I can't believe I hadn't made it earlier on in my cut. It's just marinated pork loin, preserved mustard tuber (a salty, pickled vegetable that has some of the texture of radish but lots more flavor), and a sauce of water, cornstarch and a touch of sugar. Easiest thing in the world, most of the flavor comes from the pork marinade and the pickle. And it comes together super fast, the only thing that requires any work at all is cutting the pork into little slivers. My knife skills for Chinese-type cuts are not great -- if I hadn't been so slow with the knife work, this would have been on the table in 20 minutes.

 

I made it last night with lots of pork, lard (I have a little dish floating around that needs to get used up), and garlic chives. Didn't take a photo, but I guess that's what stock photos are for.

 

d1c1cce3a7689174abf8716bdef5316b.jpg

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13 hours ago, PaulG said:

So you've saved me again! Thanks. :D

 

ha ha :D ok I get it know, it definitely makes more sense :P It was quite clear actually, I'm not sure why I read it that way.

 

13 hours ago, PaulG said:

And surprise, I've always flopped around within the progression, having days when they felt easy, then stalling for weeks at a time, then finally getting frustrated and moving up a progression even though I wasn't ready for it... in retrospect it seems obvious that I should have controlled the form more carefully.

 

So much this...  same here... I think it's one of the hardest drills I have ever come across so far in terms of technicalities and progressions (and maybe moving from crane to tuck planche, if you have any tips). I hope that's the bit that will really switch on the progress button...

 

Here is a little motivational insta post by Kirsty (Garage Gym Girl, whose HSPU programme I'm following right now). It' good to show women doing it too :D I'm so impressed by her form.  NB: I don't get commissions on advertising :P I just really like her stuff :) 

 

 

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14 hours ago, @mu said:

So much this...  same here... I think it's one of the hardest drills I have ever come across so far in terms of technicalities and progressions (and maybe moving from crane to tuck planche, if you have any tips). I hope that's the bit that will really switch on the progress button...

 

Here is a little motivational insta post by Kirsty (Garage Gym Girl, whose HSPU programme I'm following right now). It' good to show women doing it too :D I'm so impressed by her form.  NB: I don't get commissions on advertising :P I just really like her stuff :) 


That’s awesome. I like the box — creative way of extending the ROM while working balance with the flat palm. Hopefully these changes we’re making to the pike work.

 

I don’t have much in the way of knowledge on planche progressions, sadly. I have random stuff I’ve picked up from watching others’ progress — I’ve heard having a good base of strength at front and back levers have some carryover to that initial tuck planche hold. I also know most people go to tuck planche by stopping off a straight-arm crane/frog stand first. But it’s a big progression step.

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Workout Log 5/7/20

- Thoughts going in: my recovery has hit a new stage of slowing. I’ve had DOMS in weird places for the last week. Yesterday was mainly both biceps and my left deltoid, which really interfered with my 5 minutes of handstand practice. Came into today with DOMS particularly in my left calf (?) and chest.


Warmup


Wall HS: 5 mins: 3,3,2,2s
- Really crapped out on these today. Just last week they were starting to feel easy! I seem to be breaking at the core, every time I started to fall I felt my waist wobbling around atop my ribcage right before I went down.

 

RTO Support: 23s, 20s, 21s, 20s

 

Strength

 

Wide Ring Rows: 12a-y, 12a-x, 13a-y

- Really got into that last set of rows. It’s crazy that they’re starting to get easy, I only switched away from regular rows like two weeks ago.


Chair Split Squats: 8/8a-e, 8/8a-e, 8/8a-e


False Grip Chest-to-Bar Pullups: 4aabb-x, 5aabbc-x, 4aabc-x, 4aabc-y


Incline Wide Ring Pushups: 6b-x, 6b-y, -

- I'm labeling these as incline now to remind myself that I'm doing them with my feet on the floor. Eventually I need to elevate them so my chest can't touch my ground at the bottom, but I want working sets of like 7-8 first.

- Red alert! Felt a little twinge/pop in my right shoulder when lowering into the first set of pushups. It still felt a little weird when I did my second, so I cut them off there. I’m at my most vulnerable these next two weeks, I do NOT want to take chances with my joints. Didn’t seem to affect any other movements though.


Reverse Hypers: 7b-x, 7a-x, 7a-x


Pike Pushups (32in): 3(8s)a-x, 3(8s)a-x, 3(8s)a-y

- It's hard to overstate how great the pike pushups felt. The new locked-in form gave me a big confidence boost. A couple times I even ground out a 9 second eccentric, including the last rep of the last set. I'm thinking I'll run these a few more times, see if I can push myself to 10 seconds, and then start working full reps around the time I start my diet break.


Hanging L-Sit: 16s, 16s-, 16sa-x, 16sa-y


Cooldown

Compression Work: 4x10s
Dumbbell Wrist Extensions (8lb): 17/17

 

Notes:

- The reverse hypers are a recent addition to my workout, and the more I think about them, the less I like them. They were supposed to be a glute/posterior chain exercise that didn’t stress my knees, since my knees have had trouble with my squatting already. Two workouts into them, I hate them with all my might. They feel like they’re working the lower back more than the glutes, which is almost certainly not something I need. And of course, now the knees seem to be handling the load from split squats fine.

 

- I’ve been thinking about bridges. My overhead mobility could be better, but that’s improving over time as I do wall slides and upper trap shrugs in my warmup and off-days. I also have overnight hip flexors, though, and those do not seem to be improving very much. I’ve heard bridges are great for both mobility problems and are a decent introductory glute exercise to boot. I may switch reverse hypers for those next workout.

 

- Post workout the right shoulder is not painful, but there’s a little soreness somewhere in there, letting me know it’s not fully happy. I’m not worried about a little rotator cuff stress as long as it’s just the muscle, but this whole time I’ve been worried about staying away from any kind of impingement symptoms, it would suck to have my progress stall just as I’m nearing the finish line of the cut.

 

- I’ve been thinking this for a while but haven’t written it down yet: I think I need a deload week. I’ve been working out for almost 8 weeks straight, by the time my cut ends it will have been 9. Now that I look back on my progress, I’ve actually come a decently long way in a short time period, coming from not able to do a good-form pullup to doing multiple C2Bs, and from regular pushups to rings and pikes. I’m tempted to hit the deload next week, but I’d like to have more calories in my body when I do it, so it’ll probably be the same week I start my diet break, week 2 of the challenge.

 

- Speaking of diet breaks… can’t wait. Cut’s still going swimmingly. My daily weigh-in has me at 190.0 lbs today, my waist is 30 5/8”, and about 3.3 lbs of bodyfat away from hitting the coveted 15%.

 

200.gif

 

:D

 

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8 hours ago, PaulG said:

I’ve heard having a good base of strength at front and back levers have some carryover to that initial tuck planche hold. I also know most people go to tuck planche by stopping off a straight-arm crane/frog stand first. But it’s a big progression step.

I think there is probably a lot of truth to this.  I can get into a tuck planche both by rotating into it and dropping from a crane.  However, that is as far as the carryover goes.  Going from a tuck planche to an even slightly advanced tuck feel like an impossible progression step, so I am kind of stuck at the tuck planche stage for now

 

1 hour ago, PaulG said:

The reverse hypers are a recent addition to my workout, and the more I think about them, the less I like them. They were supposed to be a glute/posterior chain exercise that didn’t stress my knees, since my knees have had trouble with my squatting already. Two workouts into them, I hate them with all my might. They feel like they’re working the lower back more than the glutes, which is almost certainly not something I need. And of course, now the knees seem to be handling the load from split squats fine.

One of the best glute/hamstring isolation exercises I have come across is the floor slider.  You lay on your back in a reverse plank and pull your feet to your butt and then slide them back out.  If that is too easy, you can do them single leg, but I am not that level yet.  GHRs are also a great exercise but they are really tricky to set up without the right equipment.

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2 hours ago, WhiteGhost said:

I think there is probably a lot of truth to this.  I can get into a tuck planche both by rotating into it and dropping from a crane.  However, that is as far as the carryover goes.  Going from a tuck planche to an even slightly advanced tuck feel like an impossible progression step, so I am kind of stuck at the tuck planche stage for now

 

I don't expect I'll have experience with anything quite like it until I start working straight arm press to handstand variations (someday...). It requires a high level of strength, so you have to train for strength a lot. It's an unusual movement, having the characteristics of both a push and a pull, so it benefits from straight-arm work and work in that specific shoulder range of motion. And it's also a skill, so you have to accumulate a lot of time practicing to get good at it. Only once all those pieces are in place will you be able to work that specific planche variation enough to make progress effectively. I imagine there's probably a lovely feeling when it all comes together for you and your hold times are increasing, you're enamored with how much better you are at it... and then you top out, and to make it to the next planche progression you have to start the cycle of ancillary work all over again.

 

I've only ever seen Waldo get it -- and I think the furthest he got was advanced tuck before he got bored and moved on to other things. "Got bored" is probably doing him a disservice, he was too tall and heavy to achieve a full layout anyway, advanced tuck in itself was a hell of an accomplishment. I recall he did a ton of very short holds, a ton of pseudo planche pushups, and he was well past having a full layout back lever before he managed an advanced tuck. I'm sure all of it helped different components. Steven Low's writings bring up that the advanced tuck requires back control to straighten the back, and if you're missing that component, it can be worked with straight arm press to handstand progressions. But that's well beyond anything I've ever done.

 

2 hours ago, WhiteGhost said:

One of the best glute/hamstring isolation exercises I have come across is the floor slider.  You lay on your back in a reverse plank and pull your feet to your butt and then slide them back out.  If that is too easy, you can do them single leg, but I am not that level yet.  GHRs are also a great exercise but they are really tricky to set up without the right equipment.

 

That floor slider sounds like a great exercise. I was actually just looking at whether I could do GHRs just by hooking my feet under the bed or the couch. It's not ideal, but the only alternative I can think of is drilling holes in the wall and installing a big ol' pipe to hook my feet under. 😂

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4 minutes ago, PaulG said:

I was actually just looking at whether I could do GHRs just by hooking my feet under the bed or the couch. It's not ideal, but the only alternative I can think of is drilling holes in the wall and installing a big ol' pipe to hook my feet under. 😂

I have been trying to find a way to do these at home forever, and only this morning was I able to come up with something that actually works.  Not ideal, mind you, but at least doable.  I load up my barbell wit as much weight as it can hold* and then put some yoga blocks down for my knees.  Kneeling on the yoga blocks, I hook my heels under the barbell and it is just heavy enough to hold my feet down for the top half of the movement.  I can't work on the lower half of the movement this way, but it's still better than nothing

 

* I don't have an actual barbell, just two dumbbell cores with an extender hooking them together.  This set up can hold 2 plates on each side, and my heaviest plates are 15kgs so I only get 60kgs of weight to hold me down.

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11 hours ago, PaulG said:

I also know most people go to tuck planche by stopping off a straight-arm crane/frog stand first. But it’s a big progression step.

 

I worked on that bit, trying to take away one leg at a time from crane. A bit like 1-leg crow training. While it worked well for 1-leg crow,  from a locked-arm crane, my elbows had a very very hard time (joint or ligament type of pain, not good...).

If I were to take it on again, I'd keep those max active attempts (actively lifting up)  but also train a lot of HS to stalder negatives or HS to crane (doing the opposite: resisting gravity). At the time I did not have very workable HS press negatives at all so it was not possible and it did not even come to mind :D But I think it would help providing the right amount leverage without imposing as much strain on my elbows (and make them stronger in smaller increments).

 

1 hour ago, PaulG said:

I don't expect I'll have experience with anything quite like it until I start working straight arm press to handstand variations (someday...).

 

1 hour ago, PaulG said:

Steven Low's writings bring up that the advanced tuck requires back control to straighten the back, and if you're missing that component, it can be worked with straight arm press to handstand progressions.

 

Maybe for low straight arm press to HS (eg stalder press). I guess it depends on people bodies and strength vs flexibility.  But you can get a standing press to HS without much planching ability (I do :D ). I learned how to compress, curl and push. Very different feeling from the sort of planching I can feel from HS to stalder negatives for instance and to be fair, I'm more successful at those negatives when I compress like crazy to avoid holding my butt weight too far away from my gravity centre :D But I can see how it could be made into a planching drill. It requires a lot of control over the negative though. 

 

3 hours ago, WhiteGhost said:

One of the best glute/hamstring isolation exercises I have come across is the floor slider. 

 

oh yeah those are so tough. I really enjoy GHR. It's just not as nice from a sofa on the floor. It was ok on the sofa we had back in Tehran, but on the new one here, I'll just bring it down with me :D

 

5 hours ago, PaulG said:

I’ve heard bridges are great for both mobility problems and are a decent introductory glute exercise to boot.

 

Bridges are great. Also personally, each time I have a fairly intense back bending session, my butt hurts (do not quote me out of context please :P ).

For glutes, elbow levers are also great imo. Get me every time.

 

For shoulders, I have 2 exercises that helped me, if you want to give them a try.

One from Cirque Physio: I do this one with a band, I'll lift one arm and hold 10s. And do 4 holds each arms.

And the other one I learnt from Kirsty, they are snow angels on the floor. You lie on your back on a support about 10-15cm above the floor. I use my foam roller, a bit flimsy but narrow enough to move shoulders down. I wrap my wrists with a band and do 15 very strict and slow snow angels (arms in contact with the floor at all times).

 

6 hours ago, PaulG said:

I’ve been thinking this for a while but haven’t written it down yet: I think I need a deload week.

 

yeah training recovery is also important!

 

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17 hours ago, @mu said:

I worked on that bit, trying to take away one leg at a time from crane. A bit like 1-leg crow training. While it worked well for 1-leg crow,  from a locked-arm crane, my elbows had a very very hard time (joint or ligament type of pain, not good...).

If I were to take it on again, I'd keep those max active attempts (actively lifting up)  but also train a lot of HS to stalder negatives or HS to crane (doing the opposite: resisting gravity). At the time I did not have very workable HS press negatives at all so it was not possible and it did not even come to mind :D But I think it would help providing the right amount leverage without imposing as much strain on my elbows (and make them stronger in smaller increments).

 

Yeah, the joint thing is something I'm dealing with for rings-turned-out support holds (eventually going for ring dips). Stressing the joints/tendons is good so they adapt, but it's a much more delicate balance between stress, overstress and injury with my joints. It's taken a month to get my elbows to the point where I can bang out longer support holds with very little complaint, they're only getting a tiny bit sore like every once a week now.

 

I know planche puts a ton of stress on the elbows, which I've heard is why back levers are so good for them. They're easier to work and they'll condition the hell out of your elbows.

 

And yeah, I think the press to HS stuff was mainly supposed to be for the purpose of developing proprioception and control of your back... something a lot of trainees are missing, but it doesn't sound like you are. 😄

 

17 hours ago, @mu said:

For shoulders, I have 2 exercises that helped me, if you want to give them a try.

One from Cirque Physio: I do this one with a band, I'll lift one arm and hold 10s. And do 4 holds each arms.

And the other one I learnt from Kirsty, they are snow angels on the floor. You lie on your back on a support about 10-15cm above the floor. I use my foam roller, a bit flimsy but narrow enough to move shoulders down. I wrap my wrists with a band and do 15 very strict and slow snow angels (arms in contact with the floor at all times).

 

Those are good exercises! The snow angels sound like a progression from wall slides... The first one I think I want to try today. Usually to prep for handstand practice I do a hollow hold, a few wall slides, some overhead shrugs to activate the traps, and go. Maybe that will help a little too.

 

My main issue with handstands right now is my hip flexors, I kink at the hips and can't unkink no matter how hard I try. Which brings me back to bridges... I guess I can't avoid them 🙄

 

--

 

Quick food update. I made the yuxiang chicken, which was delicious as always. And then I tasted the sauce and thought to myself "this is spicy as hell, I need a refreshing drink, and I'm tired of guzzling seltzer. What on earth can I do about this?"

 

So I looked in my fridge and found:

 

  • a big fistful of mint, just starting to go south
  • a bunch of cilantro with maybe a week left in it
  • a big tub of kashmiri chili powder that I've had for like a year and barely used
  • 1.5 liters of homemade full-fat yogurt, which I made shortly before cutting and haven't had the calorie budget to eat
  • a liter of buttermilk, which I bought to inoculate a batch of homemade sour cream and would otherwise only use for biscuits

 

And I thought: what do you do with all this random nonsense?

 

That's right, my fellow leftover-upcycling quarantiners! You make salted mint lassi.

 

IMG_2234.jpg.33868f611a65f86dade224032497020c.jpg

 

It didn't turn out quite as green as the photo those fancy people took for the recipe, but it tasted pretty damn good, got some much-needed fat into my diet, and helped cut the heat of the pickled chile sauce.

 

I still have almost a full quart of whole milk yogurt though, and I'm loathe to throw it out since I made it with my own two hands. After all, my sweat and tears went into it. Anyone got more ideas for ways to use it up?

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