I ran into this old guy as I was walking into the gym this morning (at my age an "old guy" is only someone who is older than me). I used to see him in the gym often, but it's been a while sense I've seen him. "This is the first time I've been in the gym in 2 months," he told me. Before I could even ask him why, he continued, "I had a heart attack. It happened because I was pushing it too hard for much longer than a should have. I got home and started breaking out in a heavy sweat. I had this terrible pain in the middle of my chest and with tingling running down my right arm. I told the wife to call 911 and they rushed me to the hospital." I don't remember too much of the rest of what he said after that. My mind was too occupied with thinking about how this guy was only a few years older than me. About how I was just about to go into the gym and push it to the max once again. He seemed to be in reasonably good health, could the same thing happen to me? Needless to say this is not an ideal mental state to walk into the gym with and expect to have a good workout slinging heavy weights around.
Today my warm-up routine was worth my weight in gold. I do a series of dynamic mobility drills followed by 10 minutes of jump rope as a warm-up for every workout. I've been doing this warm-up for years and it prepares my body for harder work while the totally familiar routine frees my mind to make the transition from thinking about all the cares of daily life to focusing on the work at hand. I certainly needed the time to discharge all the thoughts and feelings caused by the encounter with the old guy. I had lots of fearful imaginings to cast down. I know Him in whom I believe though, and I rely on His love. Here are the words that pressed up from my heart: Having "no fear" is not desirable. Fear what should be feared. Face what shouldn't be feared. Knowing when to fight and when to take flight, that is wisdom. With that my warm-up was complete. I had a lite sweat going and was mentally focused in fight mode.
Heavy deadlifts on my schedule today. The past year or so I've been doing a long of Olympic style power moves and haven't done plain old heavy Ds in a long time. I was pleased to get in four work sets with 315 pounds for 3 reps each set. Some who read this may use 315 as a warm-up, but with no belt, no wraps, and such a long time since I've done them, I was very thankful.
After deadlifts I did supersets of 5 box jumps, 10 thrusters, and 15 sit-ups crossfit style. I got two and a half supersets in the allotted 8 minutes. After taking a few minutes to catch my breath, I pulled out my resistance band and got a quick pump for my biceps and triceps. From a shaky start it turned out to be an awesome workout in every way. Peace to you my friend, unless of course, it is time for you to fight.
Sooner or later every believer will reach a point where he or she must take a leap of faith. God will bring you to a point where the only choice is to either shrink back in unbelief, or push ahead and stretch past the present limits of your tiny belief muscles. Do not think this strange. Do not think you are unique. Even our Lord Jesus was tested in the wilderness. Let our mutual faith be an encouragement to each other. Practice the faith as you have been taught and let go of the fear. Rely on the love God has for us. God is faithful. He will not allow us to be tested beyond our ability to endure.
1:11-12 New International Version (NIV)
I long to see you so
that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that
is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
Peter 4:12-13 New King James Version (NKJV)
Beloved, do not think
it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some
strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent
that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you
may also be glad with exceeding joy.
8:4-15 New International Version (NIV)
While a large crowd was
gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this
parable: 5 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was
scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the
birds ate it up. 6 Some fell on rocky
ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up
with it and choked the plants. 8 Still
other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times
more than was sown.”
When he said this, he called out, “Whoever
has ears to hear, let them hear.”
His disciples asked him
what this parable meant. 10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to
you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, ""though hearing, they may not understand."
is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those
along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away
the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive
the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a
while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The
seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their
way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not
mature. 15 But the seed on good soil
stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and
by persevering produce a crop.
Corinthians 10:13 New Living Translation (NLT)
The temptations in your
life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will
not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted,
he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
4:16-19 New International Version (NIV)
And so we know and rely
on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in
God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is
made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment:
In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There
is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do
with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he
first loved us.
Peter 5:6-11 New King James Version (NKJV)
humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due
time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Be sober, be vigilant;
because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom
he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing
that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But
may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus,
after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and
The video clip below portrays the reality of the point of this entry perfectly.
*An except from the third book in the Fitness Devotional series..
I loved today's workout. On paper it didn't look like much, but after the first round it proved to be a good challenge. I'm used to working hard, just more of a slow Band-Aid removal style. You know, work hard on a set and then take a break before working hard again on the next set. Crossfit isn't designed that way. It's more like ripping the Band-Aid off quickly in just one shot. You go hard until it's done. Just this one WOD has made me a big fan of this style of training. It certainly won't be all that I do, but I certainly don't want to be totally without it from now on. Today's WOD:
Three rounds for time.
1. 100m Farms walk. I choose two 40K kettlebells. The gym is on a converted basketball court so I figured down and back covered the 100m. I've never really done this as an exercise before. Not only is it good for grip work, but having to fight the downward pull on the shoulders has to be good for posture strength as well.
2. Burpees X8. I was glad it only called for 8. This exercise has a huge potential to really suck if you want to take it there.
3. V ups X16. I haven't done this one in probably about 20 years and it showed. My form smoothed out a little, but this exercise brought the most pain today.
4. Full Sit-upX24. First set was easy, 2nd set not so much, 3rd set really hurt only because I was trying to shave a few seconds off my time.
Completed all three rounds in 12:19. I was dripping with sweat, and breathing hard. And It took less than 15 minutes.
I brought along my 3 pound Indian Clubs, just in case the WOD wasn't enough work for me today. After I caught my breath I decided to go ahead and use them. I should have brought the 2 pound clubs. Ten minutes with the 3 pounders proved to be more than I could handle today. Took my hands and shoulders to failure a couple of times. The Indian Clubs are a lot different than your standard weight training exercise for the shoulders. Bars and dumbbells work mostly the large deltoid muscles. The circular motion with the Clubs works the entire shoulder girdle. Here's one of my older videos with me swinging the 2 pounders:
All in all, it was a good training day. Crossfit style earned some points with me today.
Easy 20 minute recovery run on the schedule for today. Not nearly as hard as last week. I could've run harder and further, which is pretty encouraging. I ran some of the back trails on Fort Bragg that I used to run all the time back about 10 years or so ago. A lots changed since then. Including the Vivobarefoot Achilles scandals that I'm wearing these days. These babies take some getting used to, but I fully expect to be able to put out volcanos with my bare feet in a few weeks of running in these things.
Awesome workout today. I didn't miss the usual pre-workout supp at all. Coming off a full day of rest yesterday I was ready to go this morning. WOD called for deadlifts, then as many rounds as possible in 5 minutes of 10 reps push-press/10 reps air squats. I decided to modify with hanging full squat snatches instead of the push-press. I started with my normal dynamic warm-up followed by 10 minutes of jump rope. Then:
Deadlift: I decided to use the smaller 25 pound plates to increase range of motion. I wanted to keep it light just because I'm so new to Crossfit I don't want to go too heavy or too hard and gas out before I can complete the workout.
1st set: 95 lbs for 10 reps
2nd set: 145 lbs for 7 reps
3rd set: 195 ibs for 5 reps
4th, 5th, and 6th sets: 245 lbs for 5 reps
The smaller plates gave me a good 3-4 more inches to move the bar at the bottom of each rep. This was tougher than I thought it would be. Still I completed all with only a little tightness in the lower back. Decided to grab a PVC pipe and stretch a little before the next part.
For the hanging full squat cleans I decided on using only 88 lbs., which had been the weight I was using to start my warm-up with when I was doing straight Olympic style lifting earlier this year. The WOD called for 10 reps though. I've never really done more than 3 consecutive reps for snatches. I figured that wouldn't be much of a problem with such a light weight.
1st set of Hanging snatches: knocked out the 10 reps and I was breathing hard already. Paused for about a two count and went into the air squats with no problem. The air squats were easy, but I was still breathing hard.
2nd set of Hanging snatches: I got to 5 reps and had to put the weight down. I never would have guessed a little 88 pound barbell would have had me punching out on only the second set, but I'd just couldn't maintain the form. I moved on to my 2nd set of air squats. Breathing real hard, but had no problem knocking out the 10 reps. Bent over to try to slow my breathing and heart rate a little. After about a 5 count I got on the bar and knocked out the remaining 5 reps of the hanging snatches. I dropped the bar and looked at my timer. I still had about 6 seconds left. I let that 6 seconds go. After the deadlifts and 4:54 seconds was all I wanted.
After I walked it off a little bit, I decided to do a little bodybuilding. I think the Crossfit "it doesn't matter what you look like" is ridiculous. The WOD gave my legs and back a good workout, but nothing for my arms. I grabbed my red elastic band and did three pump sets each for the bi's and tri's. Solid pump on the guns, WOD completed, and I left the gym happy.
Crossfit seems to only create love or hate from most people. I think this is because Crossfit has some really good points and some really bad points. This naturally lends to the polarization of most people depending on which they value more, Crossfit's good points or its bad. In it's short term in existence as compared to bodybuilding, in my opinion Crossfit has already reached the same type of popularity peak. The extreme is no longer shocking enough to maintain the interest of the masses. So like bikini and men's physique, we are starting to see spinoffs from the more traditional Crossfit box mentality. I found what I would call a sanity filtered beginner's level Crossfit program. It is from a book I purchased on amazon.com called "Fire Your Gym." Clearly not the best title choice as you will still need a gym or you will have to buy the equipment necessary outright. I started the program last week and so far that is the only shortcoming that I see.
What I've learned from the first week is that Crossfit isn't a whole lot different from what I grew up doing in the military. Grant it, when I was in the military it was mostly just bodyweight exercises and running, but it brought the same "butt-whipped" feeling after the working.
The biggest change this week has been me starting to run again. I promised myself when I retired from the military four and half years ago, that I wasn't going to run any more. Before this week I haven't run further than 100 meters at a time since I pulled off my uniform for good. I was convicted of what a stupid promise "to not run any more" was as I was running through the neighborhood on one of last week's scheduled recovery runs. I passed this lady walking her dog. She turned to me and said, "I wish I could run." "Walking is good enough," I replied. As I turned the corner though, I couldn't keep from thinking about how ungrateful it was of me to be thinking only about how much I would rather not be out here sucking wind, when there are plenty of people who wish they could be running and sucking wind, but can't.
Even though I can't yet say that I've come to enjoy running, I do think it has been a missing link in my training. The fact is that from the time I was about 25 years old to well past 35, I was a solid 187 pounds and ran nearly everyday. I was also on a seafood-like diet. Any food I saw that I liked, I ate it. By the time I was in my early 40s life had slow way down. I was running less, eating the same, and my overall physical activity was about half of what it was at 30. Needless to say it didn't take long before I plumped up like a butterball turkey and pushed the scale to 230 pounds. Anyway, the way back from all that is a different story. The only point I'm making is that running, and being 25 years younger, was a big part of what kept me lean back then. Nothing I can do about my age, but I can start running again.
It only makes sense really. The body is designed to get efficient at whatever you do consistently. So it makes sense that running would signal the body to drop excess weight so that running will become more efficient. My only concern is finding the sweet spot where the fat goes and all the muscle stays. I believe running in moderation along with continued resistance training to be key for getting lean and sparing the muscle. By moderation I mean no runs more than a 10k (6.2 miles). That is going to be a long run for me. My longest run last week was a slow and painful 5k (3.1 miles). You can always tell when I'm going through a tough spot in my workouts. Those are the days when my "fit status" will be me preaching to myself to take the pain and not to quit.
I had planned on creating a custom training program to record these Crossfit workouts, but the bodyspace tool for programs and workout tracking was just too time consuming for me. It seems to me they are geared for the set programs bodyspace offers. So if anyone is interested in following, let me know. I could post each workout here in my bodyblog.
It isn't often that I feel the need for something to get me started, thankfully. Today was one of those days. I went surfing on the Internet looking for something to inspire me. The videos below did it. You don't get to be like the folks below by feeling sorry for yourself or sitting on you butt. Check them out...I'm out of here to get some work baby!
I reached my final two personal milestones last week. I was both accused of using steroids, and asked how I look like I'm 30 at 50. Well, it's not steroids. It is a combination of a lot of things, but if I had to pinpoint just one thing I would say my morning ritual is the key. We all have morning rituals whether you call it that or not. Chances are you do the same things every morning with only slight variations. So whatever you usually do when you get out of bed is your morning ritual. For the past five or so years my morning ritual has been Bible reading, prayer, and then some form of exercise. By setting the course and the tone for each day this way, I have been totally transformed physically, mentally, and spiritually. There is power in this morning ritual for all who are willing to grasp it.
It feels good to be home. I left a couple of weeks ago prepared for the worst. It turn out not to be so bad at all. This was far from what I expected. It was more like a civilian camp out than it was an army field exercise. We pitched in money for food. We grilled all kinds of stuff and no one was hungry the entire time. There was plenty of food.
I did have to sleep on the ground in my little tent, but I got used to that within a few days. I slept pretty good expect for the two nights I was awaken out of a sound sleep by a tick crawling on neck.
I also planned to use the TRX that I bought before I left. I really like fitness gadgets, but I just couldn't bring myself to open the box of that TRX. I have no doubt that the suspension trainer is an effective form of resistance training. What was bothering me was the price. If I was going for 6 months or more, and had zero availability of any other equipment, the expense of a TRX would be justified. I was only going for two weeks though. After which I would again have access to several gyms on Fort Bragg full of all kinds of equipment. Too much to pay for only two weeks of use, so I returned the TRX to the store unopened.
To my surprise I actually had access to a bench, a bar, a couple of sets of dumbbells, and nearly 300 pounds of plates while I was gone. Less than idea, but still sufficient for a decent workout. I choose not to use them. Sure it was hot. I had limit access to shower, and a limited supply of clean clothes. I could have work around all this and normally I would have. Something led me not to though. I hardly ever take more than one day off from training. I've been training six days a week now for what, two or three years? I just felt like I had more to gain by taking the full two weeks of rest from training, than I could gain by whatever workout I could get in for the same two week period. How did it work? Too early to tell just yet.
This morning I stepped on the scale and weighed two pounds heavier than when I left. Considering my diet and zero workouts, only two pounds is not too bad. I feel strong, but the lack of stretching has me feeling a little stiff. I will spend the next couple of days working on my flexibility. Should be ready to go back to working hard on Monday. Going to start a whole new workout program.
I'm so excited! Last day on my old job was yesterday. New job starts this Saturday. Times are hard, any honest work is a blessing these days. So I'm off to the woods to support an Army training exercise. Its been a long time. A really long time since I've spent a couple of weeks sleeping under the stars and digging holes to poop in, but I'm thinking it's a lot like riding a bike. Trying my best to remember all the things I used to pack about 20 years ago.
Physically I'm not too worried about carrying heavy loads and moving long distances in the North Carolina heat. I feel up to the challenge, and besides I can always flip that Ranger switch and go until I drop. I don't think that will be necessary. I have decided to add some running back into my workout routine though. I haven't run more than 100 meters at a time since I retired like five years ago. I promised myself that once I hung up my uniform I was not going to run again. I was never very good at running. It seemed like I was always struggling to keep up with guys who could run a lot faster and easier than me. So when I no longer had to run, I stopped. I'm far enough removed from all that now though. A little running won't sacrifice my muscle and it will enhance my overall endurance. I will look to make this adjustment as soon as possible.
As far as my resistance work while I'm in the woods, yesterday I purchased a TRX suspension trainer. I've never used one, but the TRX has been around long enough now not to be all marketing hype. I'm thinking of doing a video review when I get back.
As far as supplements, none are allowed. Except for protein. I'm actually looking forward to getting rid of all pre-work supplements anyway. And I don't think a short break from creatine will hurt me much. I did get enough protein bars to have one a day, but my calorie and protein intake are about to get seriously reduced. I also bought a case of MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). The military brown bag with everything a growing boy needs for one whole meal. I used to get these things for free...now that I'm buying them, I will pack 1 per day. I don't know what else I will have available for food. One protein bar and one MRE a day probably isn't enough food to make me completely happy, but I won't die.
Among the other things on the prohibited list are all electronic devices. No phones, cameras, computers, and all the rest. Cutting all electronic cords for the first time since I purchase my first phone. That's been so long ago some of you won't remember. It came in a bag a little smaller than a shoe box.
This new job will be a huge change. It is not totally unfamiliar, but it does mark the beginning of a whole new chapter in my life.
I just received this video footage yesterday. It took seventeen text messages and four months to get it. It was just mailed a few days ago. If I had only sent sixteen text messages, chances are it would never have been mailed at all. Many of these text messages I sent didn't get a response. Finally the response came back with the 17th message that it had been sent. I replied back something like "great, thanks."
As soon as I sent that reply my mind immediately flashed to the parable Jesus told His disciples about the persistent widow (see Luke 18:1-8). I always thought I knew what this parable was saying, but the experience with getting this video was like going from black and white to HD techno color. Just like the persistent widow, I hounded the guy until he sent me what I wanted. The brightness came from deep inside when I suddenly became aware that one of the keys to prevailing prayer is persistence. How simple and powerful! I can't even remember how many times I've prayed for something only one time and then forgot all about it. In hindsight this seems like such a silly thing to do (how can we remember God answering a prayer, if we don't even remember what we asked?). I won't be making this mistake any longer though. I will pray with the same hound dog persistence that got me this video. The same pit bull, not let it go until it comes persistence, to "always pray and never give up."
The persistence of prevailing prayer is not as much about continually asking as it is about continually believing you will receive it. Once it is in the mail, you no longer have to ask for it to be sent. Be joyful like Abraham, and give God the praise. Be thankful for it while you wait to receive it (see Romans 4 20-21).
I have this vision of me standing on the 2014 Bodyspace Spokesmodel Competition stage at 200 pounds of perfection. Some will say this is impossible. There are just way too many variables that cannot possibly be controlled. I agree. They are right and it is impossible for me. What they refuse to believe though, is that all variables are under God's control. He who stretches out the heavens and calls each star by name. He who laid the foundations of the earth. He who numbers each hair on our head. He who clothes the lilies of the field and holds each sparrow in the palm of His hand. All things are possible to Him because He is the Most High and nothing is beyond His control. Let them put that in their scientific method and try to deal with it.
This past week has been filled with ups and downs. After sporting a six pack 24/7 for the past year and a half, it is a little unsettling to see my waist line thickening. I'm up another pound our two this week. My pants are now tight. I do like the fact that I am starting to fill out my shirts better though. The disgusted look on my wife's face when she looked at my midsection, and her comment to be careful about what kind of weight I was putting on didn't help. I know she was not being malicious in any way. The comment did get me thinking about stopping the bulk and ripping it up again. Too soon though. I need to get up pass 200 before leaning out again.
I still haven't set foot in the gym in weeks. I miss the scenery, but I've been getting more than enough work right here at home. In fact, I've had some of the best workouts this year at home this week. I'll go back to the gym for sure. Right now though I'm going to stick with my home grown workout.
Faith is just like a muscle. It takes consistent effort over time to make it stronger. Seems like every time I looked in the mirror this week was another opportunity to exercise my faith. I plant and I water, but it is God who makes me grow. What's more I've come to realize that it is also God who enables me to plant and water. Truly I have nothing to boast about. It all comes from Him, therefore to Him belongs all the glory.
The fire still waits in heaven for the faith that can call it down. The mountain stands listening for the faith that bids it to move. By faith I'm already there. I just need to keep on working until the promise comes.
That burning sensation in your muscles is just your body's way of testing your mind's desire to get bigger and stronger. The body doesn't care if you want to pump up your guns or tighten up your booty to look good. The body's number one concern is survival. It will adapt to most anything to do just that. A stimulus that is beyond your body's current capabilities will cause discomfort, or pain if you prefer. The pain is the body's signal to the mind to avoid whatever is causing the pain. Learn to find comfort in the discomfort of lifting weights and the body's survival mechanism will cause adaptation. It adapts by getting bigger and/or stronger to enhance it survivability under this continued stress. It is overloading, the continual pusing the body slightly pass its current capability over a period of years that produces the beautiful weight trained body that we all want.
Some days it is easier than others. Today was one of those "other" days for me. I haven't been in the gym since my last contest almost 4 weeks ago now. I've been working out at home. Bringing out a lot of my non-standard toys like my weight vest and Indian Clubs. Today I strapped on 2 1/2 pound wrist weights to each arm. That doesn't sound like much, but it was enough to produce a significant overload. Of course I was determined to keep my rep count the same as it was before adding the wrist weights. After my first couple of sets, I began to wonder if I could complete the rest of the workout with these little additions. I've been here plenty of times before. Arms are hurting and there are still three more sets to do. Sweating profusely, breathing hard, and the thought of just running away to fight another day keeps coming to mind. When this happens I force myself to think no further than the next set. I stop looking at the finish line in the distance, and just concentrate on taking the next step in front of me. This doesn't make it any easier, but it has always allowed me to get it done.
I do plenty of other exercise that doesn't hurt at all. They are energy building and mobility enhancing. They are not weight training though. The benefits of weight training come from progressive overloading. Make it brief, hard, recover, and repeat. Keep it simple and give it time.