Archive for August, 2012


Record Yoga Gathering?

This past Wednesday, Yogis and Yoginis gathered on the grass in front of Parliament in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, to do some yoga.

 

how it always starts… very small…

 

They do this every Wednesday at lunch, and have been doing so for about six years now, everything organized by the Lululemon store in the nearby mall.  Did I mention it’s all free?  Every week, a different local instructor.  Every week, hundreds show up to do something together, as a community.  I feel truly blessed to enjoy a practice loved by so many others in my city.

 

This Wednesday, they WENT BIG.  The teacher for this yoga session was Ichih Wang  ( http://livelifeyoga.com/ )

Ichih Wang

 

Ichih is a great instructor and a very friendly and genuine human being – taking a class with her is like having a personal conversation with her, very warm and full of humour.  The few times I have been around her, I have considered myself very fortunate.

 

Ichih’s dream was to have a GIANT class on the Hill.  A few months before, she stated her goal was to hit 5000 people!  And so she recruited.  And advertised.  And gathered.  It all came to a head this Wednesday.

 

We didn’t make 5000, sadly.  But we got 2380 to show up!  OVER TWO THOUSAND.  I think that’s crazy!  We filled up one of the lawns, and started spilling over into the second lawn.  In the end we needed over 50 people just to assist and demonstrate!

 

And through it all, we breathed, and stretched, and smiled.

 

Ichih took full advantage of  the record-breaking crowd, and incorporated a lot of “love thy neighbour” moves.  We would be in table, and were told to stretch our leg out to the left and touch our neighbour, and stretch our arm to the right and touch the other neighbour.  There were shoulder rubs, there were arm-linked team backbends (felt a bit like a trustfall), nothing that NEEDS to be there for a yoga practice, but it was FUN.  Which is an Ichih class to a tee.

 

I don’t want to steal thunder away from the official photographer, so I won’t upload his pictures, but I encourage you to visit his site, there are some truly breathtaking shots, aerial views, closeups of faces – lots of good stuff!

 

http://justbphotographic.smugmug.com/Events/2012-PHY-The-Big-One/24778272_2SsbfM#!i=2027714223&k=DQXKMpD

 

Namaste, my friends.

 

 

chest and triceps

Tuesday morning I woke up sore.  Legs felt like lead.  But I was determined not to miss a workout, or get stuck playing catch up.  So off to the gym I went, nice and early.

 

whut up, 6 am?

 

It was still not that long since my Sunday shoulder workout, so I was going to keep a close eye on how tired my left side felt.

dumbbell press (2 min rest b/w sets):  warmup, 45 x 21, 55 x 15, 65 x 12, 75 x 8, 85 x 2, 75 x 6, 65 x 10, 55 x 15, 45 x 20

pec dec (30 sec rest), 105 lbs: 15, 10, 7, 8

2 hand dumbbell extension (30 s rest), 65 lbs:  10, 9, 8, 5

tricep extensions w/rope, 120 lbs x 5, 4, 4

cardio cooldown: arc trainer, 75% resist, incline 9

 

notes:  it was time to climb the ladder once again!  Once I hit 85 lbs, my chest was giving out, the 2 reps I did included a failed attempt just before (this was my second attempt with the 85 lb DBs), and those 2 reps were not under control like I would have liked.  So back down the ladder I went.  On the way down, the chest felt fine, but my left side was starting to shake and lag the right.  Definitely the shoulder getting tired.

I did some rope tricep extensions to finish off my tris, and sure enough, I could barely pump 5 out.  The DB extensions had done their job.

Then I headed to work, the legs were giving me grief all day, and I knew the chest would be joining them soon enough.  I am going to feel like lead next time I wake up, need to get a lot of sleep.  Maybe some yoga on Wednesday will help shake the soreness off…

It’s always good to have a backup gym.  Sometimes you don’t feel like going to the usual one.  But you don’t know where anything is, you don’t recognize any faces, noone recognizes you.  Will they think I am a poser?  Will they see that I am there to work out for real?  It’s like a different sort of muscle confusion, the kind that comes from learning the ropes all over again.

i am so lost.

 

My backup gym is a 24 hr one in another part of town, next to a GNC health supplement store (nutriceuticals?  is that a word?  sounds like a place you go to to get chemically castrated! ba dum ching!)

 

I missed my Monday morning workout (lazy).  So, since I had to head to the store to pick up some more protein powder, I thought hey, late night gym session,  For some reason I decided to do legs again, don’t ask me why I thought was a good idea.  My legs just stopped being sore from Friday.  Maybe I just thought it would be easiest to use and abuse my legs, they enjoy the punishment.

 

The gym was SO busy!  It is bigger than my regular gym, and was packed with lots of young bloods, occasionally knocking out a few reps on the bench press or the squat rack, mostly just BEING THERE.

 

the room smells like red bull and FAIL

 

 

I carved out some land for myself, then on with the show!

uneven (1 leg) bench squats: 10/10, 6/6

quad extensions (30 s rest) 300 lbs:  16, 12, 10, 7, 5

leg curl (30 s) 260 lbs:  20, 15, 10, 5

calf raises:  4 x 80

leg raises (frog):  20, 12, 15

cardio:  crosstrainer, resistance 20, incline 15, 20 min

 

notes:  those 1 leg squats remain a challenge, but I am getting more comfortable with the form.  I found a spot next to the squat and proceeded to get in everyone’s way, haha.

Instead of leg press, quad extensions.  they only had ONE leg press machine! that is sad. one old lady was hanging out on it, so I did extensions instead.

your intensity is inspiring. mind if I sub in?

 

Leg curls felt good, really squeezed out some nice slow reps near the end.

Leg raises, I did better than usual, progress!  Good, my sad attempts at prone leg raises were depressing me.

 

 

For cardio I jumped on the crosstrainer, and thought hey! resistance 20. the grunts coming out of my mouth from the very start were a sign I had gone too high.  my legs were moving through thick mud the whole time, but I am stubborn so I stayed with the resistance, this time only.

 

Then I headed home to rest, cause I still had Tuesday morning gym ahead of me!

Spin & Shoulders

Sunday I headed down to the gym with my neighbour for a Spin class.  My legs were still sore from leg day, although not horribly sore, so this was a good chance to flush them out and recover.

I am trying to cycle off the stimulant preworkouts (although I am still taking a thermogenic with caffeine), so today was the first day for a stim free PWO I keep handy for just such an occasion.  I am conservative with the PWOs, I only take them before workouts – if I start taking them every day I build up a tolerance much quicker.  So, I figure two weeks on the stimfree (Rivalus Complx5) before I go back to the C4.

Spin class was tough!  Andrea is my favorite RPM instructor, but there were times I was getting pummelled mercilessly.  The rests were super short and the beat was unrelenting.  By the last song I was already out of gas, bent low, face tensed, pumping away.  I had to stop a few times in that song, it was brutal.  But hey, that’s what I’m there for, beat me up!

noone was smiling in my class, this pic ain’t that intense!

Part of the strain might be the DOMS in my legs, it might be I really wanted the stim from my PWO but there wasn’t one, or it might be Andrea’s classes are no joke.  Or all 3!

After I peeled myself off the bike, I was dreading trying to compose myself for a shoulder workout.  Shoulders would have been better first, that’s just the order it happened.

My neighbour invited me to go shop in the nearby market for some “minimalist” shoes for his day job (dressy but with no support).  He has been a big convert to those shoes that look like rubber feet, with the little toes and all that.

So I decided (to my great relief) that I would keep my shoulder workout light.  This would let me keep it quick, let me experiment with the rest-pause some more, and would also make it easier for me to save some gas for the chest workout I would be doing in a day or two.  I normally like to keep chest and shoulders a little more separated, but again, this is just how it worked out.

So, little to no rest (30 seconds between sets AND between exercises) and just crank it out.  The whole thing took maybe 20 minutes.

overhead dumbbell press:  25 x 20, 12, 8

arnold press:  25 x 11, 10, 9, 5

lat raise machine:  80 x 10, 10, 10, 5

dumbbell shrugs:  80 x 10, 10, 9, 6

notes:  this was pretty compressed.  overhead was way light, but when I went straight into Arnolds, they were getting pretty tiring near the end.

ze Arnold press, most enjoyable

If I had more time, I would have done side raises with the dumbbells, and maybe some reverse flys as well, but this was pretty quick and dirty.  I wanted to see how my recuped shoulders felt with the rest-pause.  Overall they held up pretty well!  And I probably still have some gas left for chest day…

the one-legged squat

Friday I showed up faithfully to the gym around 6-6:30 am.  Getting back into the swing of things.

 

After some warm-up, I wanted to try out one-legged squats.  I KNEW this would be challenging,  I had been playing around with bodyweight squats for a while, taking my butt all the way down to the ground, with my feet wide, with my heels touching, all over the place.  But cutting your muscle power in half without reducing the weight is a big step.  I was not expecting picture perfect pistols off the start.

Al Kavadlo

 

I started out trying to place my off foot heel on a medicine ball.  I would lower down, use my heel on the ball to assist with the push as I get back up.  Easy right?

seemed possible

 

I got VERY uncomfortable trying to lower myself down on one leg.  It felt so unnatural!  I tried with a few different-sized exercise balls, but it was the drop on my supporting leg that was giving me a mental block.

 

After a few false starts, I decided ok, new plan.  I headed over to a bench.  I would go down halfway on one leg, my butt would hit the bench, go back up.  Since it was only halfway, I tried to suspend my off foot in the air.

Again, mental block, my off foot would not stay up.  So I rested my heel on the floor and lowered down and pushed back up.  It was tedious, awkward work.  Definitely out of my comfort zone.  I also didn’t look very cool.  It also tired out my legs, which was a great consolation.  I ended up doing maybe a set of 10 of the uneven bench squats on each leg.

 

I then did a limited rest-pause set of 50 leg presses on each leg, a limited rest-pause set of leg curls (50 each leg), some frog raises for my abs (about 50), and some standing calf raises (about 300).  20 more minutes of cardio, then off to work!

 

Has anyone out there had to put in a lot of work to get into the one-leg pistol squat?  I would love to hear more.

 

For a progression tutorial, you can’t go wrong with reading Al Kavadlo.  He has an awesome website on bodyweight work.

http://www.alkavadlo.com/2010/06/pistol-squat-tutorial/

 

back & biceps

I enjoyed getting back in the gym, and I have enjoyed the limited rest mini-sets, so I decided on more of that today.  Made it to the gym early-ish, 6:30 or so.

warmed up with 10 minutes of cardio

(rest is 2 min bw sets if not otherwise noted)

assisted chinups:  8, 6, 5

closegrip row machine (30 sec rest):  180 x 10, 8, 7, 5

hammer curls across the body:  70 x 5, 5, 5

seated dumbbell curl (30 sec rest):  40 x 10, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 4

core “rotisserie” (superman to side plank to plank to side plank, repeat)

cardio 15 min

notes:

I thought I would have done better with the chinups… oh well *shrug*, at least I wasn’t THIS guy

Seated curls were all out war!  I already knew my biceps run out of gas fast (unlike my back), so I was braced for some pain.  The first 10 were fine, but by the second mini-set already WHOA.  But I soldiered on.  I had a little upswing going by the end, but I was trying really hard to control it, especially those last 4.  So I don’t think anyone would fault me for cheating, I worked it pretty honestly.  I didn’t have a pump at the end I would get from my old routine, but it was tough as hell.

I would like to think Arnold would be proud.

I was not this intense, and I can only dream of the hypertrophy. Cause Arnold rules.

chest and triceps warmup

So, with the horrible sickness well behind me, it was time to get back to the weights.

 

Things weren’t perfect, I had some soreness in my injured shoulder from experimenting with pushups recently, I had a sore sternum from an aggressive “supported fish” in Yoga, and I hadn’t been up this early in months.  But no workout is perfect when it hasn’t started yet.  Good workouts are only measured after, not before.

 

I was at the gym at 6 am, nice and early.  I did 10 min of warmup on the elliptical, then was ready for some chest and triceps.  I wasn’t going to go super heavy with the weights, but I wanted to play with the routine a bit.

 

DB chest press (2 min rest between sets):  40×21, 50×15, 60×12, 70×10, 80×5, 70×8, 60×10, 50×15, 40×20

pec deck, 90 lbs – 18 reps, 30 sec rest, 12, 30 sec, 10

2 Hand DB extension, 60 lbs – 15 reps, 30 sec, 10, 30 sec, 5

bench dips:  10, 10, 10

core work:  Superman 30 sec, extended side plank 30 sec, extended plank 30 sec, extended side plank 30 sec

Superman, side plank, plank, side plank

cardio elliptical trainer 20 min

 

notes:  The dumbbell presses were fun.  I just kept going up by 10 pounds on the dumbbells each time, then when I felt like I reached the top, I climbed back down the ladder, 10 pounds at a time.  I can tell already I will feel it in my chest tomorrow.  The 6 am was hitting me hard during these sets, I was burping up my morning fish oil, HAHA.

fun with dumbbells at 6 am

Pec deck was light, but the goal was the limited rest pause style where you pick a rep range and give yourself so many sets to achieve it, ie. do as many as you can, rest 30 sec, do more, rest, continue.  So I picked a light weight just to get used to the feeling again.

Same deal with the extensions, I had given myself 7 sets to hit 30 reps, and it only took 3.  So today was kind of a warmup, a preview of things to come.

I had gas left in my triceps, so I did some bench dips.  But then I looked in the mirror and saw my stomach from the side, and got sad, HAHA.  *cries*

not me, thankfully. but the real mirror view was not flattering

When it was time for the core work, I felt exhausted.  It was going to be a constant rotation, supermans to side planks to planks, etc.  But during my first side plank, I was so shaky and beat up I collapsed, haha.  So during the second “rotation”, I stayed on my elbows instead of up on my hands.  The tank was clearly out of gas by that point, but I still think my core needs some serious work.

this was me. except I didnt stay up that long, and I have a gut.

Core was a bust so I decided to finish myself off on the elliptical.  I did 3 min of moderate speed, then 1 minute of all out speed.  Repeat.  I did this for 20 min, then showered up and headed to work.

 

It’s fun to be back in the gym for a full on workout!  Next time I have to remember to use some real weight 😉

 

Hey!

I have been away a while.  I got my pc replaced in early July… just in time for one really evil stomach ailment of some kind.  I won’t get into the gory details, but I was sick for 3 days, shaky for the rest of the week, and could barely hold down for food for ANOTHER week!  So workouts became very sporadic, mostly light cardio.

What actually helped me get through the rough patch was my diet.  I wanted to reset my body, give my digestive system a break, cleanse a bit.  So I tried intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is when you get all your calories and macronutrients, but into a compressed span of time.  So instead of eating every 3 or 4 hours, I would get all my eating done in an 8 hour span, then not eat for 16 hours!

I tried the Leangains method.  If you want more info, check out this website:

http://www.leangains.com/

Martin Berkhan runs it – very friendly, answered my Twitter questions.

Normally leangains people eat at night and go to sleep, then go without during the day.  I tried a different, probably harder version.  I ate from 7 am to 3 pm, then ate nothing all night, went to bed starving, then woke up the next day.  I don’t recommend going to bed starving, if you can help it!

I chose that routine though because that way I could do some morning cardio, break my fast (breakfast, literally) with my day food, then avoid food at night, which is traditionally when I get my worst junk food cravings.  It made it easier to eat healthier, let my body reset itself from the illness, etc.

It was hard the first few days!  I was pretty miserable.  But then the next few days were easier.  After a week of that, my body felt much better – I could honestly say to myself, “I am ready for regular eating again”.

I dont know if I could do leangains fulltime (Martin has been running that way for years and he looks great)

 

this guy doesn’t eat for 16 hours a day. believe it.

but I do agree that everyone is different, and should experiment.  Everyone says just eat every 3 hours and keep your metabolism up, but some people can get what they need from different arrangements, including all their calories, all the energy they need to kick butt, steady but manageable weight loss, etc.  If you feel the usual every 3 or 4 hours routine isn’t really for you, or it makes it too hard to keep your willpower under control, or makes it too inconvenient preparing multiple small meals every day, maybe give intermittent fasting a try!

An article on IF:

http://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/basics-intermittent-fasting

Jeremy Scott – model, trainer, fasts daily