Stretch Shortening Cycle



The fundamental elements of human power production are: high-speed strength, low-speed strength, speed of force production, strength-shortening cycle and muscle memory or skill. The first three elements are trained in the gym, the fourth is a gift of nature and the fifth means that you could be the most perfect physical specimen ever to walk the earth and you wouldn’t be able to chew gum and walk, unless you practiced chewing gum and walking, of course. Let’s talk for a moment about number 4.

Do you remember the classic scene in the doctor’s office where the patient is sitting on the exam table and the dr. hits his knee with a rubber hammer and the patient’s leg kicks out? That is a demonstration of the stretch shortening cycle. A perfect example of the body’s defense mechanism against overstretching, when the hammer hits the tendon over the knee and quickly shortens the quadricep muscle, the brain immediately tells the quad to contract and simultaneously keeps the opposing muscle, the hamstring, relaxed so that there is no opposition to the leg’s movement, preventing overstretching. The same phenomenon can be seen in weight training, called ‘bouncing out of the squat’, the athlete lowers the weight under control until, at the very bottom of the squat the pre-stretched muscles rebound to start the weight up again.

The stretch shortening cycle is a built in part of the human machine but knowing what it is and what it does can help us in getting to know our bodies better. Plyometrics is a subject that really embraces the stretch shortening cycle, many of the movements rely on it for their effectiveness. One of my favorite exercises is platform jumping or box jumping. Many people do this in their workouts, but there are two ways to do this and two very different results.

The basic box jump starts with the athlete standing in front of a wooden platform and jumping from the floor to the top of the box, fully extending the hips each time and jumping back down to the floor. If you can do this, awesome. Now think about this, start on top of the box, jump to the floor and spring back onto the box without pausing at the bottom. This is where the stretch shortening cycle lives. Try this ten times with a small box or snatch block, 6 to 8 inches tall to begin with. Rest at the top instead of the bottom if you need to and try to keep your heels from touching the ground when you land at the bottom, this leaves all of the stretch in your legs. The first several times be careful as there is a component of skill and balance involved in getting back to the same spot you started each time. Think unicycle, don’t hurt yourself trying to help yourself.

workout: run 1 mile, no stops

Cardio-Like it Or Not


As I have mentioned before, respiration is the primary mechanism for removing fat from the body. Cardio training is the best way of elevating respiration to a level that will effect this removal.

The best method I have come upon is HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training. The acronym may be new but the general principles remain the same, small sessions of extreme effort broken up by short rest periods. How does this work? A story to illustrate…

In 1954 Roger Bannister had decided to break the 4 minute mile. To do this he broke the race down into laps, 4 quarter mile segments. Each day that he trained he ran 10 quarter mile laps at a pace just under 1 minute each. By doing this he, in effect, ran two sub-4 minute miles every day for a month or more. His purpose in doing this was to engrain in his muscle memory the pace that he needed to maintain in order to achieve his goal. At a track in Oxford on May 6, 1954 he finished the mile in 3:59.4.

HIIT works by elevating resting metabolism beyond the amount of time that you actually exercise. If your workout is 30 minutes long you don’t have to workout at maximum intensity for the whole 30 minutes, the work/rest cycle follows the formula ‘2x’ on/’x’ off, typically 30 seconds work followed by 15 seconds rest repeated 10 times without stopping or some variation. Movements that lend themselves to this model are sprints(run a distance and walk back), burpees, box jumps, jump rope, bear crawls, tire flipping, you get the picture.

My workout today was a 1 mile run, in 15:38. Before you average guys(5’10”, 150#) start talking smack, think about this, I weigh in at 305, if you think you can run a quarter of that with a 155# barbell on your back then good on you. Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither was my ‘ab’ but I’m working on it.

Day 58- You Get What You Pay For

Sounds too good to be true? That’s because it is. The model used in this photograph does not work out 4 minutes a day, she more than likely puts in at least an hour just in spin class or running to keep her bodyfat down. Add weight training/resistance training, HIIT, gymnastics/bodyweight and there is a significant investment in time involved in looking that fit. No one looks like a fitness model by accident, it can’t happen.

I look at the time I spend just to look not-fat, and I have to respect people that can do this. There is a secret, hard work. No way around it, it takes what it takes and if I don’t want to put in the work I will not get the results.

my food-
total=2700 cal.

Day 44- Healthy At Every Size?



Absolutely not.  This is a movement that could not be more wrong.  I have friends that battle type 2 diabetes every day and are way too big, they are not healthy.  I myself, could be in better shape, I am not at a healthy weight yet.  Diet and exercise are not the enemy, they are the answer.


No  food tracking today, I’ve been a bad boy


Workout-Active rest day

Day 31- The Importance Of Sleep


We humans are slaves to many clocks. Clocks that tell us when to go to work, when to eat, when to watch a movie or TV show. These clocks can be analog or digital, electric or mechanical or both. One of the most important clocks to us is biological, it is called the circadian clock and it tells us when to sleep.

How is that possible? It starts in the eye. You may know that the retina of the eye contains rods and cones that relay sight information to the brain. There are also cells in the retina called ganglion cells that use a photopigment called melanopsin to detect the difference between day and night. These cells send their special message along the retinohypothalamic pathway to the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus of our brain. The SCN, for short, communicates with the brain’s pineal gland which then uses the secretion of melatonin to mark the day/night cycle. The signals from the eye are called a zeitgeber, or time giver, and help the brain to reset our 24 hour, circadian cycle.

While melatonin peaks in the evening and signals the body to sleep it is not like turning on a switch. Sleep comes gradually in stages. Most authorities agree that there are 5 stages of sleep ranging from the very light stage 1 all the way to REM sleep, the most important. We sleep in cycles, the first REM cycle lasting around 45 minutes before we go back to stages 2, 3 and 4 before entering REM again. Each REM cycle gets a little longer than the last. We need at least 3 hours of REM sleep each night so that we can recover from the day before. This is why scheduling at least 8 hours of sleep each night is so important.

my food
4 eggs(320 cal.)P28F21.2C0
1 tsp. coconut oil(40 cal.)P0F4.7C0
1 Can tomatoes and chilies(50 cal.)P2.5F0C10
total=410 cal. P 30.5 F 25.9 C 10

Protein shake
whey isolate(130 cal.)P20F3.5C6
16 oz. 2% milk(244 cal.)P16.2F9.6C24.6
Total=374 cal. P 36.2 F 13.1 C 30.6

1st lunch
2 cans tuna(180 cal.)P40F2C0

2nd lunch
5 oz. spinach(35 cal.)P4F.5C5
1/2 cup lentils(240 cal.)P20F0C40
2 tbsp. italian dressing(60 cal.)P0F6C3
total-335 cal. P 24 F 6.5 C 48

8 oz. pork loin(264 cal.)P50.6F5.2C0
1 onion(64 cal.)P1.4F.1C15.5
2 jalapeños(8)P.2F0C2
1 tbsp. coconut oil(120 cal.)P0F14C0
total=446 cal. P 52.2 F 19.3 C 17.5
daily total= 1745 P 182.9 F 66.8 C 106.1

my workout
2 hours mowing

Day 28- Rounding Out The Protein Profile


There are 20 to 22 distinct amino acids needed for a healthy human metabolism. 9 or 10 of these are essential, meaning that the body does not produce them itself, they have to come from the food that we eat. Not all protein sources are the same, some foods have a better, more complete protein profile than others. Beef and dairy products are very good sources of all essential amino acids, as are chicken and pork. While most vegetables contain protein, the type and quantity vary greatly.

Some nutrition sites like this one have a great deal of information beyond just calories and a simple macro breakdown, they can be helpful in determining what foods to include for more complete proteins. Variety is important to us, try to vary your foods regularly to keep it fresh and keep on track.

my food
4 eggs(320 cal.)P28F21.2C0
14g. coconut oil(40 cal.)P0F4.7C0
1 Can tomatoes and chilies(50 cal.)P2.5F0C10
7 corn tortillas(350 cal.)P7F3.5C73.5
Total=760 cal. macros P37.5 F 28.4 C 83.5

popcorn(260 cal.)P8F3C50

5 oz. spinach(35 cal.)P4F.5C5
1 avocado(322 cal.)P4F29.5C17.1
2 cans tuna{180 cal.)P40F2C0
2 tbsp. 1000 island dressing(150cal.)P0F15C4
total=687 cal. P 48m F 47 C 26.1

daily total=1707 cal. P 93.5 F 78.4 C 81.6

My workout-Active recovery

Day 27- Thinking Of Others Before Ourselves



Several weeks ago I happened to be in waiting room ‘I’ at MD Anderson hospital in Houston, Texas where I met a man named John. Waiting room ‘I’ is in the basement, far from the lobby. or ‘Aquarium’ as it is called. There is no cell phone or computer reception in waiting room ‘I’, the surrounding walls are lead lined. This is where you wait for radiation therapy.

John and I exchange pleasantries and we find a common interest, cycling. When he finds out that I live in Wichita Falls he tells me that riding in the Hotter’n Hell Hundred is number one on his cycling ‘bucket list’. Just then a nurse calls John’s name and he and his wife, who has been sitting quietly next to him, get up and say good bye, disappearing into the treatment area. I won’t be seeing John at the start line this year but I will be wearing a “John from waiting room ‘I'” wristband during the ride this year, so he can be here in spirit. Good luck, John.

When you want to compare two or three different foods to determine which one has the right calories/macros for your recipe, try this link. Trying to figure out what’s in what you just ate but there is no nutritional label then this could be helpful. a few helpful sites to keep us on track. Remain calm and keep riding.

my food

4 eggs(320 cal.)P28F21.2C0
1 tsp. coconut oil(40 cal.)P0F4.7C0
1 Can tomatoes and chilies(50 cal.)P2.5F0C10
16 oz. 2% milk(244 cal.)P16.2F9.6C24.6
total=654 cal. P 46.7 F 36.5 C 34.6

lunch salad
5 oz. spinach(35 cal.)P4F0.5C5
8 oz. carrots(90 cal.)P2F.6C21
1 cucumber(32 cal.)P1.6F.4C5.8
4 tsbp. italian dressing(120)P0F12C4
total=277 cal. P 7.6 F 13.5 C 35.8

20 oz. chicken(620 cal.)P130.5F7C0(2/3 servings)
1 onion(64 cal.)P1.4F.1C15.5
3 jalapeños(12 cal.)P.3F0C3
total=464 cal. P 84.1 F 4.6 C 11.4

whet protein(270 cal.)P40F7C12
16 oz. 2% milk(244 cal.)P16.2F9.6C24.6
total=514 cal. P 56.2 F 16.6 C 36.6

daily total=1909 cal. P 194.6 F 71.2 C 118.4

my workout

back squats
5 x 5@ 180#

Day 26- On The Road Again


Life is about variety. Once you have seen something or done something, it’s not really the same again. That’s OK, it gives us a desire to do different things and go different places. It just proves that we are constantly adapting and adaptation is what keeps us growing.

Eating the same food over and over again wouldn’t be good, eventually we would tire of the taste maybe even grow to dislike a favorite flavor if exposed long enough. When I plan a meal, one of the things I try to do is to vary the source of protein. Although I like tuna and it is a great source of protein, sooner or later I would tire of it so I also eat chicken and beef and pork. I would not turn my nose up at lentils or tofu, I just don’t know enough about them yet.

The first rule of weightloss is that you have to restrict the amount of calories you take in. The first rule of fat loss is that you have to eat to lose fat. Too much restriction and the body goes into starvation mode and turns all food into fat. Lean muscle mass burns more energy than fat, it takes food energy in the right amounts to build and maintain muscle.

By the same token, the body adapts over time to exercise. Aerobic exercise burns calories while you workout. Lower heart rate aerobic exercise, when you can carry on a conversation while still working, burns more calories than other exercises. The body will adapt to aerobic conditioning, I can run 3 miles every morning and as I do this my body will become more efficient, if I run at the same pace I will burn less and less calories each time. I would have to run progressively faster in order to burn the same amount of calories. Although my muscles are getting better, they would not get any bigger through aerobic exercise, only anaerobic exercise can do that.

Resistance training or weightlifting is a form of anaerobic conditioning. Aerobic exercise uses oxygen and glycogen from the blood to produce work from type I muscle groups. Anaerobic exercise uses energy stored in the type II muscles themselves to generate force and do work. Once type II muscles are fatigued the only way that they recover is through sleep, that is why sleep is paramount to any fitness endeavor. Diet is also a key element to recovery, when type II muscles are stressed, they develop microtears which require the body to break down certain micronutrients like amino acids to repair these muscles and to grow more new muscle to adapt to the new stimulus.

To recap, aerobic exercise makes the type I muscles more efficient, anaerobic execise causes type II muscles to get stronger and grow. Muscles used in endurance burn fat during use, muscles used for strength applications burn fat during recovery. While moderate carb loading may benefit an endurance effort, since the energy required for strength training comes from the muscle fibers themselves, general nutrition is the key phrase here, along with appropriate post workout recovery food(protein).

My food
Protein shake
whey isolate(130 cal.)P20F3.5C6
16 oz. 2% milk(244 cal.)P16.2F9.6C24.6
Total=374 cal. P 36.2 F 13.1 C 30.6

ground pork loin(440 cal.)P82.2F8C0
1 onion(41 cal.)P1.0F.1C10.2
1/2 cup rice(110 cal.)P4F0C50
total=591 cal. P 87.2 F 8.1 C 60.2

20 oz. chicken(620 cal.)P130.5F7C0(3 servings)
1 onion(64 cal.)P1.4F.1C15.5
3 jalapeños(12 cal.)P.3F0C3
7 corn tortillas(350 cal.)P7F3.5C73.5
1 tbap. coconut oil(120 cal.)P0F14C0
total=701 cal. P 51.1 F 23.9 C 79.7

daily total= 1666 cal. P 174.5 F 45.1 C 170.5
My Workout

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 8.28.20 AM

Day 25- Balancing Strength And Cardio

Day 25- Balancing Strength And Cardio


Although I try to maintain a level of fitness year-round the upcoming century ride is the focal point of my efforts. If I make this ride I have attained every goal I set for this year. Two goals: Ride 100 miles, don’t die. Simple.

I am training strength this year, right up to the ride, heavy squats 3 times a week. I want to incorporate speed as well but 100 plus degree weather is not being very cooperative. I have built up some new auxilliary lift toys in the home gym and can’t wait to see how they work out. As far as cardio, no running at all up to the ride, all cycling. Got to get my butt used to the saddle again.

Weight lifting has brought me success in the last three years and I am stronger this year than ever so I think that I will be just fine. Hopefully the bike will hang in there one more year as well, it’s too late to break in a new one now.

My food
4 eggs(320 cal.)P28F21.2C0
1 tsp. coconut oil(40 cal.)P0F4.7C0
1 Can tomatoes and chilies(50 cal.)P2.5F0C10
total=410 cal. P 30.5 F 25.9 C 10

Lunch(3 servings w/o rice)
20 oz. ground pork loin(660 cal.)P126.5F13C0
1 onion(64 cal.)P1.4F.1C15.5
1/2 cup rice(160 cal.)P6F0C74
total=401 cal. P 48.7 F 4.4 C 79.2

1 bowl(260 cal.)P6F3C50

total=1071 cal. P 85.2 F 33.3 C 139.2

My workout- Active recovery