strength

More Power!

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Another Monday meant another early morning at Central Rock Cambridge. Today I worked a bit more on power and footwork than on endurance. Here was the routine (the warmup is similar to last week):

  1. 5-10 mins stretching, focus on shoulders and hips.
  2. Pick a bouldering level that is two grades below your redpoint level, so for me that’s a V0. Do a V0 three times in a row. For the first one I took my time and stretched out on each hold.
    1. Do a core exercise until exhaustion. Here’s a list of the exercises I did today:
      1. Tornado situps (lie flat, swiftly bring legs up straight, bringing up the butt and into middle back if possible, twist hips, come down and then bring upper body up to a situp)
      2. Straight leg-lifts
      3. Side crunches
      4. High plank rhomboid shrugs (I just made up this name as I’m having trouble finding an example, you hold a high plank position and do pushup action just with the shoulder blades: draw shoulder blades together and chest comes down, push shoulder blades apart and chest comes up)
      5. TRX plank knees-to-chest
      6. Pull-up prep (more on this below)
      7. Bridge with alternating legs up
  3. Repeat #2 with two more V0s, focus on overhanging V0s.
  4. Repeat #2 with four V1s but only do each V1 twice, again focus on overhanging V1s.
  5. Repeat #2 with one V2, climb it only once if you flash it, climb up to three times if you don’t.
  6. Work at least 5 minutes on your project. My project is a slabby V3 so it was a nice contrast to the power prep I did. I made it about three moves past last week and am just one move from the top so I’m stoked!
  7. Hit the weight room for this circuit (if you have time repeat this at least twice, I only had time for one set):
    1. Seated tricep press low weight for 12 reps, higher weight for 8 reps (I used 15 + 20 lb)
    2. Reclined tricep press low weight for 12 reps, higher weight for 8 reps (I used 15 + 20 lb)
    3. KB lunge and row x 10 each side (I used 26 lb KB)
    4. Situps on the ball x 20
    5. Grab two weight plates (I used 2 x 10 lbs) and hold with your fingertips while doing deep lunges the length of the room x 2 (~25 paces in that gym).
    6. Pull-up prep or pull-ups to exhaustion
  8. Spend at least 5-10 minutes cooling down and stretching. Focus on releasing shoulders, triceps/biceps, forearms/wrists/hands and hamstrings + quads.

Overall this was less bouldering problems than last week (15 plus about 5 tries on my project, as opposed to 30 plus projecting last week) but since I chose overhanging routes and harder problems it was quite a workout. I also felt I could focus more on my footwork with the harder problems. V0s are so ladderish that while my intent was footwork, I mostly worked on quiet feet and played a bit with flagging where appropriate. Today I was able to do more with heel and toe hooks and I really needed to up my flagging and drop-knees and get weight in my feet to support the steep climbs. It felt really good and I can feel myself progressing and using more of my entire body when I climb.

Finally, I want to give a bit shoutout to Coach Rich of Mountain Strength Crossfit for his helpful advice on pull-ups. I believe I mentioned that I finally have started being able to do unassisted pull-ups. Well, there’s a little catch to that. I’m doing well at engaging my lats to start and then my biceps to finish but I get to a point where my biceps are pressed against my forearms and my head is barely over the bar; it’s like I get stuck. Another trainer told me I had to engage my rhomboids there so I went to give it a go and Rich checked my form. He immediately noticed a few things. Yes, I do need to engage my rhomboids, but I needed to alter my posture altogether. I need to look up (I was looking forward) and aim my sternum towards the bar. As a beginner I also need to widen my grip to start so as I pull back my elbows have space to come next to my ribs and my rhomboids engage. He has me doing an exercise where I hang in this wide-arm position, look up, point my sternum at the bar and just work on engaging rhomboids as I do continuous “mini pull-ups” (my word, not his). I will update you all on my progress, but I’m hoping this advice also helps others. This “mini pull-up” is what I mean by “pull-up prep” in my routine above.

Rich also gave me the weight plate exercise (#7F). This seems like a great exercise for climbers as it works grip strength, shoulder/back and legs.

More next week, along with hopefully an article on the importance of working antagonists. I can’t tell you how much better my hands are feeling now that I’m regularly using PowerFingers to strengthen my extensors. If you have any training tips please send them my way!

WTF Workout?!

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August has been a pretty crazy month for me, but while my blog entries cooled down, my workouts continued to fire up!  I’ve been traveling a lot, which means my routine has needed to shift to accommodate my locale.  

The first adventure was a five day intensive Lomilomi retreat.  Lomilomi is a style of Hawaiian massage that I’ve been studying for about two years now.  This was my third class and it was incredibly inspiring.  I knew that I would be in a calorie-friendly environment, as our meals were all vegetarian, mostly made from ingredients found right on the land we stayed at.  Speaking of the land, I already knew about Dreaming Mountain in Johnson, VT, but now that I’ve spent four nights there I’m absolutely in love with it!  I had done a mini-cleanse before the trip, so I had already cut out alcohol, red meat and was strict to my food allergies diet (generally no sugar, dairy, gluten, corn, coffee and a slew of other random things).  This meant that I didn’t feel the need to do my really intense workouts on the retreat.  Instead, I did yoga daily, a martial arts dance that’s part of the Lomi training, and, of course, I was giving and receiving massage daily.  I ended up dropping 5lbs just from living a healthy stress-free active life for a week!

The next adventure was much more challenging.  My company recently opened up a new store in Key West, FL.  It was my job to head down there to set up all the infrastructure.  This meant taking three planes each way to a hot, sweaty tourist playground, working five 12 hour+ days in a row and attempting to stick to my diet and exercise.  The first thing I learned is that the sun rises LATE in Key West, after 7am.  So to keep up my workouts I had to just deal with getting up in an unfamiliar place in the dark.  I did a combination of creating my own workouts in the hotel’s (really spectacular) gym and yoga on the beach.  I should have recorded what I did in the gym but I didn’t think to.  It was nice varying between being in the gym and being on the beach.  I really didn’t get much time at all to enjoy the island so at least doing yoga under the stars, next to the ocean, and then slowly watching the sun rise through my vinyasas was pretty spectacular.  I’ll admit diet was much more of a challenge there, and I made myself outright sick once or twice, but you gotta live too, right?

It’s nice to be back home and back to a more normal routine.  Though, it seems my yoga is going to be ramping up as I’m trying to hit the minimum pre-req hours for a yoga teacher-training I’m hoping to start in January.  I only just found the program and they require 35 hours in their studio before I can enroll.  Since I live an hour away this is a challenge, but I’ve been wanting to get my yoga certification for years now and it’s a teacher I really like.  Wish me luck!

So, today’s workout was really unusual for me.  It’s a little bit of everything.  I started out doing someone else’s workout (some of you may recognize the first few items) and then decided I wanted it to be more dynamic.  This was LONG.  My arms were shaking at the end and I was dripping with sweat.  I feel it’s a good mix of cardio and strength training, though the cardio portion never really ends.  Check it out:

8/27/13 – For Time (My Time = 24:50)
  1. 1 Min High Knees
  2. 1 Min Sprint
  3. 1 Min Low-Jacks
  4. 30 Weighted Burpees (I used 5lbs)
  5. 30 Knee Tucks
  6. 30 Side-Lunge w/ Floor Touch
  7. 30 Plank Side-To-Side Jumps
  8. 10 Prisoner Getups
  9. 10 Weighted Sit-Ups (I used 15lbs first 5 and then 10lbs last five)
  10. 10 Push-Ups
  11. 20 Knee Tucks
  12. 20 Side-Lunge w/ Floor Touch
  13. 10 Side Crunches, Right
  14. 10 Side Crunches, Left
  15. 12-10-8-10-12 Pyramid Tricep Kickbacks in Lunge Position (I used 8lbs, 10lbs, 15lbs)
  16. 12-10-8-10-12 Pyramid Bicep curls (I used 8lbs, 10lbs, 15lbs)
  17. 10 Weighted Lunge Twists, 5 Each Side (I used 10 lbs)

After that, I needed some protein and amino acids!!  Cut to today’s smoothie!

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This beauty contains pomegranate juice, coconut milk, spinach, flax seeds, fresh local blueberries, frozen mangoes, and a half-serving of vegan protein powder (Fat Flush).  I’ve honestly moved away from using protein powders in my morning smoothie because I feel adding flax or chia seeds plus spinach gives me enough protein without making me bloat.  But, today I really killed my upper body so it seems right to add in the protein and help rebuild my muscle tissue.  

I also am on a daily gut repair formula from my Naturopath which includes l-glutamine.  While new research is always coming out, there’s a lot out there showing a direct correlation between l-glutamine and muscle recovery.  It’s recommended post-workout, along with protein and carbs (1:4).  We always hear protein protein protein after workouts, but that’s one time when I think it’s important to have carbs to help with the recovery.  Frankly, I do think there’s such thing as too much protein.  I’m definitely trying to build my muscles, but that doesn’t mean I need to eat 10 eggs and a bucket of protein powder in one day.

What post-workout drinks/meals/supplements work for you?