Stretch Shortening Cycle

301.4

box-jumps

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

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Crunching the Numbers

306.4

runners

 

Rule 34 states that ‘If it exists, there is porn of it.’  I believe that in the realm of health and fitness, if one person has had an idea, two other people have figured out how to count it, collate it, and quantify it.  One such idea is the Banister Impulse/Response model.  The idea was at first to figure out if, by recording all training efforts, an increase in fitness could be calculated by means of an ordinary differential equation and the answer given in the form of positive training effect, or PTE.  It almost worked.  For every positive training effect there is a negative effect, that being fatigue.  Rather than shoot down the original hypothesis however, this little fact seemed to have perfected it.  When the PTE is plotted against the NTE over time along with actual performance an interesting and quite repeatable effect is shown.

F6.large

Skipping all of the math, we see that at the beginning negative effects, basically fatigue, outweigh the positive effects of training.  As performance starts to improve the positive effects become substantially greater than the negative.  This model has been tested for many endeavors, running, cycling, swimming, and seems to work similarly in all of them.  More here.

 

I have a confession to make. I fell off the wagon, yes, stopped making fitness a priority and forgot about eating right and it got me. On top of not making weightloss goals and feeling pretty low from the lack of endorphins, I got a chronic hip pain. So I am back at square one, actually square zero, I have lost the ability to squat temporarily. I am slowly rehabbing the range of motion while I try to catch up in other areas.

It is iced tea season once again, there is 3 gallons of the stuff in the refrigerator right now, good hydration is one of the very basic things I am concentrating one as the summer progresses. Purging useless carbs, refined flour and sugar, and getting back to fresh greens and such. Baby steps, the goal is not a ‘diet’ but a lifestyle change, a permanent one.

Prying myself away from the computer screen is underway. Walking the dog a mile at a time, up to 3 times a week now to mobilize the hips and get the wind back. Weight training again starting with Bench, Deads, Lat pulldowns and Power cleans until the squat comes back.

Workout:

Dog walking= 1 mile, large dog, his pace not mine.

Food:

8 oz, sausage, 6 eggs Calories 1376 Protein 81.8 g. Fat 95.8 g. Carbs 0 g.

10 oz. Grd beef+ 2 med onions 518 cal Protein 45 g. Fat 31 g. Carbs 11 g.

Chinese buffet Don’t judge me.

 

Cardio-Like it Or Not

bann1305#

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 11- The Importance Of Coaching

295.6

If you are like me and don’t go to a gym that has a coach that can give you pointers when you work out, take video and save it for later. You can always watch yourself do the work and then find a video of someone teaching the movement and you can compare and see where you can improve. I have been working on getting my back squat up to 200#(90kg.) for 5 sets of 5. I feel this is an achievable short term goal. For a long time my progress was halted by the fact that I did not have a squat rack and I could only manage about 150# front squatting in the racked position. Unracking the weight put unacceptable strain on my wrists. I finally installed a sort of squat rack on the side of the house and have been able to increase the load now. My new limiting factors are from errors in form and recovery time vs. detraining atrophy. From the video I took the other day I can see that I have corrected for the most part rounding of the back at the bottom of the squat and a tendency to butt wink occasionally. I still however keep way too much weight in the front of my feet, you can tell this by watching the bar path as I go down each time. Things to work on means more reasons to workout again, practice, practice, practice!

A word about shoes. When you workout, especially if you are running or moving your feet side to side a lot, it is incredibly important that your shoes fit correctly. I am as guilty as the next guy of buying the cheapest tennie-runners out there for normal wear, but when I workout, I have good quality, well-fitting shoes. If I am shuffling down the road and my shoe starts moving around on my foot and my toes are trying to keep my feet in the same place all the time I am setting myself up for injury. Stop. Right. There. No excuse in the world is good enough in that situation.

My first pair of workout shoes were Inov8 bareXF-210’s. I scoured the inter webs for weeks looking for the perfect shoe, mainly because I have enormous, extra wide, size 15 feet. They turned out to be the only shoes available in my size but I did have a choice of colors, hideous green or dayglo pink. I love me some green shoes. I can wear out a $13 pair of WalMart’s fine footwear in about 3 months but these shoes soldiered on for three years solid. They still get to do some duty when I run in the morning, there is something to be said for minimalist shoes when you run on concrete. Before I put the green meanies out to pasture I made my most significant footwear purchase to date. The ultimate workout shoe of it’s time. Reebok CrossFit Nano 3.0’s. Also in a hideous color, ‘Rope Burn Red’ this time, because of the size. I kid you not, it’s like having Cadillac’s on your feet, the shoes feel so good. They cost enough, I will probably be buried in them, lol. just get shoes that fit you, that’s all I’m saying, the whole purpose of shoes are to protect your feet and good shoes do just that.

Squats- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

My Food:

4 eggs(320 cal.)P28F21.2C1.6
1 can tomatoes and chilies(50 cal.)P2.5F0C10

16oz. 2% milk(244 cal.)P16.2F9.6C24.6
total= 614 cal. P 46.7 F 30.8 C 36.2

lunch salad

4 oz. spinach(28 cal.)P3.2F0C4
1 cup cottage cheese(240 cal.)P26F10C8
1 can tuna(90 cal.)P20F1C0
2 Tbs. ranch dressing(260 cal.)P0F28C2
total= 618 cal. P 31.2 F 39 C 14

dinner

6 oz. chicken thigh(354 cal.)P43.9F18.5C0
1/2 cup rice(320 cal.)P6F0C72
sweet chili sauce(100 cal.)P0F0C25
total= 774 cal. P 49.9 F 18.5 C 97

My Workout

1 mile run
Back squat 5×5 @160#
100 singleunders
Hang-clean reverse pyramid EMOM ‘Every Minute On the Minute’
10@95#-9@100#-8@105#-7@110#-6@115#-5@120#-4@125#-3@130#-2@135#-1@140#

If you are following along with the getting started workouts I post, your workout today is:
1 mile walk
25 single unders with the jump rope, I know it sounds monotonous but you will soon be able to tear through all 25 without stopping, it really gets your heart racing, that’s the exact effect we are after, chasing VO2max.

Day 10- Knowledge Is Power

296.6

Muscle fibers and how to maintain them

We have two kinds of muscles involved in physical movement, fast twitch and slow twitch. Put simply muscles we use for strength and muscles we use for endurance. Slow twitch, or endurance muscles, rely on our cardiovascular system, fuel and oxygen in the blood keep them working. To train endurance, these muscles are stressed over and over so that the number of blood vessels or capillarity is increased and the efficiency of the actual transfer of oxygen and fuel to the muscle fibers is increased. With fast twitch muscles, adaptation occurs once a stimulus or load on the muscles is so great that all muscles of a given group are recruited for the movement. These muscles grow in size as a response. This is a really simplified explanation but I will go into detail later. Basically when it comes to training, bodybuilders don’t run and marathoners don’t deadlift.

So what does that have to do with anything? Being older, my body reacts to stimuli a lot slower than it used to. I recover a lot slower and I need more time for muscle growth to catch up. The thing is, the body will still atrophy at the same rate unless you exercise regularly. In order to keep the type I muscles healthy, cardio has to be done on a very regular basis. Training the type II muscles has to be done as well but scheduled around an extended recovery schedule. A regular endurance program should keep the type I system at a high level of fitness and at the same time optimize the pathways that will lead to growth in type II muscles whose training is properly adapted for effective recovery.

HIIT(High Intensity Interval Training) should be ideal as it tries to operate at or close to VO2max, the limit of the bodies ability to supply oxygen to the muscles. At 40% of VO2max, you would have to workout for 2 hours or longer to get the same stimulus as you would by working out at 100% of VO2max for 15 minutes. The thing is, very few people can get to VO2max much less maintain it for any appreciable amount of time, but the closer you get the better. When Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile, he didn’t train by running the mile over and over, he did it by running a series of 10 sub-minute quarter miles every day for months. At the end he was able to mimic his stride and cadence in the quarter for four consecutive quarters, and become the premier miler of his time.

My food:

Breakfast Rellenos

4 eggs(320 cal.)P28F21.2C1.6
1 can tomatoes and chilies(50 cal.)P2.5F0C10
4 oz. queso fresco(353 cal.)P22.8F27.4C0
4 Anaheim peppers(21cal.)P4.5F.45C21.3
total= 744 cal. P 57.8 F 49 C 32.9

Roast chilies whole under broiler, turning once. Slit longways and seed, reserve, do not remove stems. Finely crumble cheese into eggs and tomatoes, scramble egg mixture as desired. Stuff peppers fully with egg mixture, enjoy!

Chinese for lunch

1/2 cup rice(90 cal.)P6F0C72
1/2 tsp. Turmeric
1/2 onion(32 cal.)P.7F0C7.8
10 oz. chicken thigh(590 cal.)P73F30.8C0
2 Jalapeño peppers(8 cal.)P0F0C2
2 tbs. peanut butter(180 cal.)P7F16C6
2 tsp. coconut oil(80 cal.)P0F10C0
1.5 oz. sunflower kernels(250cal.)P10F21C7.5
total=1230 cal. P 96.7 F 77.5 C 95.3 2 portions/660 now

Rest of chinese for dinner

1 can Dr. Pepper(150 cal.)P0F0C40

My workout

1 mile walk
100 single-unders

 

For those following along:

one mile walk for warm-up

25 single jumps with jump rope

 

Day 7- Limits, Expectations and Goals

300.2

Limits, Expectations and Goals

Let’s talk for a moment about limits. I know that I am getting older, I get it, I don’t like it but I know that there is nothing that I can do about it.  I take that back, I can’t stop getting older but I can change the definition of aging as it pertains to me.  ‘Old people can’t’, ‘People your age shouldn’t’, these are artificial restraints that may apply to some, but do not necessarily define me.  I don’t view life and a continuous, inexorable crawl towards the grave.  Life is for living and for the living.  I don’t view limits as absolutes, I see them as challenges.

My expectations likewise are constantly changing.  As I grow I see new opportunities every day. Things around me change and I try to change with them.  To resist change is to be left behind.  I like to think of change as adaptation, of better fitting in with new surroundings.

I try to set realistic goals.  Goals that can be reached maybe not today or tomorrow but within reasonable times.  Time is on our side if we learn how to use it as a tool instead of an impediment.  When we were younger we thought, “I can’t wait to be older,” because age was a limiting factor in the way we viewed what could make us happy.  Now we wish we were younger, I wish I would just make up my mind.

Back when I started going to the gym there was a sign posted on one of the walls titled, “Benchmark Movements.”  There were things listed there that most of the people in the gym could do some if not all of.  I could not do any of them. I was too fat or too out of shape or too inflexible.  Always some reason and that bothered me.  It still does.  These things are some of my goals.  Pistol squats, pull-ups, double unders, hand stand pushups, all of these things that fit people should be able to do.  These things are going to be addressed in upcoming installments, they are achievable goals.

Using What We Learn About Ourselves

My workout today involved two concepts, moving explosively and moving with strength.  The first part of the work is a variation of a CrossFit ‘girl’ workout called Grace.  A classic rX Grace is a 135# barbell floor to locked out overhead, 30 times for time.  My best PR is 9:10.  I haven’t done Grace or any Oly lifting in a while so to get the benefit without potential for injury I’m doing 1/2 Grace, rX weight, 15 reps for time.  That is the explosive movement portion.

Overall strength is expressed in the squat.  It uses the most amount of muscle you can recruit in a single, compound movement.  One of the first ‘programs’ I followed when I started training myself is called 5×5.  5 Basic lifts, 3 per day, 3 times a week using a linear progression.  Each time you do an exercise you add 5 pounds more than you lifted the last time, easy.  If you are 25.  My squat stalled out at 175# and I stopped for a time rather than risk injury.  This is smart.

I am starting this series of lifts again but this time I am going to allow for a longer period of recovery by altering the progression.  Instead adding 5 pounds each time I squat I am going to a weekly progression.  Starting today at 20# off of my last weight of 175#, Monday will be 155#, Wednesday will be 160# and Friday 162#.  The following week, Monday will go down to 160#, Wednesday 165# and Friday 167#.  This will allow me to progress at 5# a week and really modify the recovery process.  My thinking is this, by allowing the recovery to catch up to increased stress more adaptation or growth of new tissue can occur as body resources that were used for recovery are freed up.

Do not attempt anything like this yourself, yet. The workouts I post are ones that I have personally done, I only record them here to document my progress.  There is a substantial learning curve both physically and mentally involved in doing this sort of workout.  I have been doing CrossFit for four years on a daily basis, I have done several versions of Grace at least 8 times and have been coached in the specific movement many hours by professionals, thanks John.  The weight that I am using in the squat was worked up to over a seven week period by squatting three times a week, you simply cannot jump into a weight like that without getting hurt.  I personally have hurt myself weightlifting, using too much weight while doing a movement that I did not understand.  It took three weeks to recover from that injury and I was very lucky.  I would not wish that amount of pain on anyone, please be careful.

WORKOUT
1/2 Grace

135# Barbell Floor to Overhead 15 Reps for time 4:36

Back Squat

155# 5 sets of 5 reps

FOOD
Eggs and Chorizo with Cheese
3 eggs(216 cal.)
4 oz. chorizo(285 cal.)
2 oz. queso fresca(160 cal.)
16 oz. 2% milk(244 cal.)
total=905 cal.

Post Workout Recovery drink
2 granny smith apples(206 cal.)
1/2 cantaloupe(75 cal.)
1 cup water
total=281 cal.
Recovery Protein
1 can tuna, drained(90 cal.)

This combination supplies 74.3 g. carbohydrates and 20 g. protein to aid in recovery.  Recovery drinks/foods need to be consumed within 1/2 hour of the end of the workout for maximum effectiveness.  Do not forget to hydrate before, during and after your workout.  This particular smoothie has a lot of fiber in it.  Metabolizing this amount of fiber may take additional fluid, keep this in mind during the day and drink some extra water to compensate.

Lunch Salad
4 oz. spinach(28 cal.)
5 oz. cucumber(16 cal.)
1 avocado(180 cal.)
1 oz. sunflower seeds(165 cal.)
2 Tsb. thousand island dressing(90 cal.)
total=479 cal.

Dinner
Chicken and peppers(447 cal.)

For those of us just starting out, today’s workout is:
1/2 mile walk, this is the warm up, then
Burpees-Stand up straight with hands at your side. Get down into the pushup position and then get back up and clap your hands over head, that’s one.
3 sets of 10 Burpees

Links:
Grace: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydeCu7W1VRc
Burpee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhJ3nQH-y9M
5×5 System in all it’s glory: http://stronglifts.com/5×5/

If you have any questions please ask, I would be happy to answer them if I can, or suggest someone who is smarter and better looking than I am to give you the answer you are looking for.

Day 4- Taking A Better Look

302.4

Now that we are developing better habits, what are these habits going to do for us? I for one am becoming very aware of what I eat and what is in it. It helps a great deal that I make almost all of the food that I eat and that that food is very basic, that is, not processed in any way. Raw chicken, raw vegetables, of course the sauces and dressings are premade but you draw a line for time and your own ability. I personally would love to make my own salad dressings but I have not one clue how to start doing that just yet. I said ‘yet’. The reason I would make my own dressing is not to reduce calories per say, more to change the type of fat and really, the taste. After all, if I like it, I am going to eat it.

Let’s talk about dietary fat for a moment. Fat is an important part of a healthy diet, the fat that you eat allows your body to function properly. Without going into specifics let me say this about what dietary fat does NOT do. When you eat food with fat in it, that fat does not pass through the stomach lining as fat, enter the blood stream as fat and travel to your hips/butt/abs and get deposited there unchanged. I am no expert, so I am going to stop there, just don’t fear fat, that’s all I’m saying.

BMR-
Basic Metabolic Rate. This is the rate at which your body processes the calories in the food that we eat. Below you will find a calculator that will take your height, weight, age and gender and give a basic number of calories that your body needs every day. But wait, there’s more. Once you have that number, go to the link that’s right below the form you just filled out and do the Harris/Benedict calculation, which takes into consideration your level of physical activity to more acurately predict your daily calorie needs.
http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/

This number is just a guide. It was developed by people doing research that have never met you so it is at best, a guess. Calorically speaking, one pound of fat contains 3500 calories, if you eat 3500 calories less than your body needs to maintain your current weight, you should weigh one pound less. Here is a better idea of why your daily weight number is really just a number. You eat 3500 calories less, your weight did not go down 1 pound, why not?
1)Water retention: You should be drinking between a half and one gallon of water a day. Your bodies biological machine uses water for everything, energy production, food synthesis, it is the oil for the engine that is you. When you dehydrate, it takes more energy for the heart to pump blood, other processes become more difficult, etc. Hydration is not perfect, water in equals water out for the most part but there is no perfect way to tell when that time is.
2)Solid food elimination. Enough said.
3)Muscle building: When you force adaptation through exercise, your body builds/rebuilds muscle fiber, which is considerably more dense than fat. If you eat less and are more active you may gain weight even though you are consuming less calories because the fat you are burning is being replaced by muscle fiber.

My breakfast, lunch and dinner breaks down like this:

Chicken Omelette
6.25 oz. chicken thigh meat, roasted(354 cal.)
4 eggs(288 cal.)
1 tsp. coconut oil(40 cal.)
12 oz. 2% milk(183 cal.)
total 865 cal.
Just something easy that also gets rid of pesky leftovers in the fridge, win/win.

Salad for lunch
5 oz. spinach (35 cal.)
4 oz. tuna, canned (90 cal.)
2 Tbs. parmesan cheese (60 cal.)
4 Tbs. ranch dressing (260 cal.)
total 445 cal.

Lazy dinner
chicken, peppers and rice(leftovers)(447 cal.)
This is from the recipe the other day, tastes great the second time as well.

I spent an hour in the gym doing upper body movements. I call any day without squats a light day. This workout is designed to preexhaust the muscles that assist the pecs in the bench press, so that I can get an adaptation response with a lighter weight and fully work the arms and shoulders at the same time.

3 sets 10 reps French Curl 65#
3 sets 10 reps Reverse Curls 65#
3 sets 10 reps Bicep Curl 65#
Main workout
5 sets 5 reps Bench Press 135#

This took around an hour, got a good sweat on, it was easily 100 degrees in the gym.

Try this, you can hate me later.
Take a one mile walk and after you are warmed up:
Lunges 3 sets of 10 reps(5 each leg)
Step forward and kneel with the rear leg until the knee just touches the floor. Recover and repeat on the other side. Do not try and do all of these at once, take at least a minute rest between sets.