I scared myself today

I dunno exactly how I got stuff mixed up in my head.

Lemme explain.

I pulled into the gym right on time today–

Wednesdays are kinda tricky, so I gotta git in there and get my workout in before the whole noon-time crowd jams in there.

I park my sled , take my helmet and headphones off, and am untying my gym-bag when I feel a jab between my shoulder blades.

I figure it’s one of my wise guy buddies from the gym, so I take my time turning around, and when I do, I got my eyes fixed laconically straight ahead.

Nobody there.

I look down, and there’s this little 4-foot-nuthin pregnant lady who doesn’t speak a word of English standing there, jabbering something in an unknown foreign tongue and waving a coat hanger.

Well, the obvious but rather grotesque ‘ look what you done to meI said no coat hangers ‘ jokes aside…

It took the Sherlock Holmes in me only about five minutes to determine that she had locked her keys in her Plymouth Voyager mini van, and she wanted me, who presumably looked like someone who could jimmy a lock, to, well, jimmy the lock.

Frankly, my first inclination was to tell her that I couldn’t speak a word of Northern Kalypuan and would never consider ever jimmying a lock even if I knew how ( ok, yes, I was gonna lie ) …..

But I didn’t know how to say all that in Northern Kalypuan, so I went and followed her to her car, trusty wire coat hanger in hand.

That mini van had to be the only Plymouth Voyager ever made that didn’t have a messed up weather seal around the door.. it was tight, man.

I worked on it for about 20 minutes until I finally got the verdammte thing to open… cussing under my breath the whole time about how it was messing up my workout and screwing around my schedule for the day.

So, anyway… when I got it open, I looked at her, and she has this expression that I’ve only seen in movies… like the chick who just rescued from the Gestapo by the guy in the rocket pack.

The+Rocketeer

Ok…
… maybe without the gag, the short skirt, and the Betty Page look-alike.

She was so happy and obviously relieved, that it made me forget the stuff I thought was so important a couple minutes ago.

My long be-labored point is that sometimes we all tend to over emphasize the importance of our routine in our daily activities…

Kindness can cost very little, and be a very big help.

People who are in need aren’t an interruption, but an opportunity to feel good about yourself and to make someone else happy.

And we should appreciate those times, and be more open to them.

Cause this poor ole world needs all shoulders to the wheel these days.

Hoy.

Zen and the Art of Powerlifting

Weight trainers, and particularly power lifters, combine the concentration and cooperation of all three kinds of being- mental, physical and spiritual, to achieve something approaching ‘mind over matter’.

power

Being a big fan of Eastern philosophy has it’s advantages…. because, in weight lifting, you often find yourself faced with questions that could easily qualify as Koans….

…………… and like everything in life,
powerlifting is all in the way you look at it….

First, here’s a classic Koan:

A monk was asked to discard everything. “But I have nothing,” he exclaimed. “Discard that too!” ordered his master.

Now, the powerlifter’s Koan:

A powerlifter complained that he was working too hard. “Add more weight”, demanded his trainer.

A very helpful concept in Eastern Philosophy is the concept of mind over matter…..

Let’s say you got 500 pounds loaded up on a machine or implement, pick any one you like…..

You can look at that 500 pounds and run each one of those pounds over in your mind…..
and equate them to “real world” weight – 500 bags of sugar for instance….

Now, if you piled 500 one pound bags of sugar up in front of someone and said “Lift that” ,
they’d tell you to take a long flying jump off a short dry dock….

….. because part of the function of the conscious mind is to KEEP YOU FROM DOING SUCH STUPID STUFF.

The trick to powerlifting is not to think of the weight as work – as real weight – as 500 units of anything – but as weightlessmeaninglessresistanceless.

You pick it up because you know you can – because you’ve already visualized yourself doing it – because your mind has told your body you can do it…. and so, your body complies.

Sure, you can over do it – and you’ve got to build up to it –
after all, your mind ain’t STOOOPID, and your body isn’t made of steel….
– the mental conditioning is a PART of the package – not the package itself –
without physical training, your body’s not gonna cash those checks your mind is writing……

When faced with a particularly heavy weight, I like to imagine big helium balloons attached to them….. I know that probably sounds crazy, but it really does work – your subconscious mind can be a help or a hindrance – I like to have it working for me and not against me – so I use any tool I can to keep the edge.

The same goes for visualization – if you imagine yourself being successful doing a task ahead of time, you will be invariably more successful performing that task. It works for baseball, it works for football, it works for bowling, it works for lifting, it works for sex, it works for ANYTHING.

Commitment to a task – what Zen calls acceptance – is nothing more than putting your whole essence into it – anybody who has ever deadlifted at max weight will tell you what this is about – you have to have complete focus, and be willing to use everything at your disposal to get it done.

Once it’s done, you look back and see why it worked – because you were totally IN the moment.

And the techniques of mediation are also extremely helpful – especially during that rest phase between sets …. controlled breathing, set focus, clear mind – these are essential for rapid recovery and repair … and for pain management during and after.

So, what can someone who is not well versed in Eastern Philosophy take away from all this?

Why not try these simple ideas for yourself, in whatever activity YOU like…

1: Adjustment of mental values – It’s not how heavy it is, but how LIGHT. Not how hard, but how EASY.

2: Set your mind on your goal – See your goal as already accomplished in all but the final act.

3: Visualize doing it as well as it’s ever been done before. Or better.

4: Acceptance – it IS, what it IS – the only variable you can change is yourself.

5: Commitment – In the gym, you will hear me say this over and over and over —-
YOU MUST COMMIT TO THE LIFT – before, during and after.
Give it everything you got – don’t hold back – this is the one that counts.

6: Use what God gave you to the best advantage – relax, breathe, concentrate, live in the moment.

Let me know how they work for you. OK?

OK.

What is functional strength?

Brothers of the Iron

Functional strength, everyone wants it but no one knows what it actually is.  Some believe that is the stuff that crossfiters do.  Others feel it’s  just body weight movements.  When, IMO functional strength is strength that is functional to your daily life.

 

Take me for example.  By trade I am an union ironworker.  I build buildings, bridges and reenforce concrete structures.  It’s a hard, grueling and physcial trade.  Working 10-12 hours a day around heavy materials. My last job, about two weeks ago, we ere setting griders on a new bridge.  So I spent the entire week prepping bolts.  Spent all week around 200 lbs of bolts, nuts and washers.  prepping them, putting them in buckets(60-80 lbs each) and carrying them up ladders, to the connection site, etc.  Lots of farmers walks, strongman carries and chain carries(come along over my neck and back). One thing that I notice from…

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Putting on Mass

I got an interesting question over the weekend, and since the person didn’t say I could use their name, I’ll just go ahead and answer it personally and then post a more detailed answer.

The gist of the question was this: how can a 20 year old male put on mass when he’s not been able to gain any weight ?

I know people like that, who wouldn’t seem to gain weight wearing a 75 pound back pack.

But ya know, there are certain characteristics of the healthy human body that are consistent throughout the species, and one of them is the ability to gain weight.

Lean muscle?

Yes, that too– assuming you have the necessary building blocks in place.

Now this fellow explained that he does an hour cardio per day and eats about 3000 calories. He weighs 155 pounds, drinks plenty of water, and eats healthy.

I could say there’s your problem– you’re eating healthy. LOL

Truth be told, if you were to eat junk food for a couple months straight, you certainly would see some weight gain, but then, you wouldn’t be keeping a 3000 calorie diet either.

(… you’d probably be pretty sick, too.)

And that’s obviously not the kinda gain he’s looking for.

But I do think that 3000 calorie number might be part of the issue.

Let’s look at it logically.

To maintain his body weight, his body requires about 2500 calories, at a light overall exertion level throughout the day.

He’s burning at least another 300-600 calories in his cardio training, leaving him with only a very small or even negative calorie surplus.

The math don’t lie, man.

If he wants to gain weight and lean mass, he has to have a reasonable calorie surplus, just as if he wanted to lose weight, he would need a negative one.

If you add a surplus of, say, 1500 calories daily, you could conceivably gain about 2 pounds a week, but that’s not taking into account some other things at work here.

One of them is his high level of cardiac training– his body isn’t working all that hard when he’s doing his cardio, because he’s so heart-fit.

Another is being 20, he’s got his hormones buzzin’, so his metabolism is also going full blast —

And it’s harder to gain muscle on a cardio-only regimen. ( I would say almost impossible )

Now, personally, if I was 20 in that condition, I dunno if I’d change anything– the girls are sure to enjoy his body more the way it is now, despite the impression people have that the hotties like muscle-bounds.

The truth is hotties like MEN who aren’t scared of being MEN.

But, ok…

I don’t wanna spoil the party here, so….

The first thing I would do is ramp up my diet to about 5500 calories a day — at a split of about 40% protein, 30% carbs, and 30% fats.

I’d add several supplements, including 10 grams of creatine monohydrate, 200 grams of whey isolates, BCAA’s, HMB, and Glutamine.

I’d change up my workout — at least 45 minutes of weight training 5 times a week– at 12×3@80% 1RM, with 2 minute rest intervals between sets, with 45 minutes of cardio AFTER.

And I would FAST (no food- water and supps/vitamins only) two consecutive days a week.

Insane?

Well, mebbe so… but shocking the body out of it’s rhythm is what you’d be trying to do, here.

Back in the 90’s, there were … ummm… substances that would do this for ya..

……… but now, it’s Crash and Binge.

Guys that have done this always complain about the same thing— they can never get their metabolism back to where it was.

So, unless you’re as crazy as this sounds, just add some weight training and some food and don’t go for Arnold, if you’re body says Mark Spitz.

Just sayin.

Cheers.

Protein Supplementation for Muscle and Strength

eh

Ever read a muscle magazine?

It’s bizarre…

There’s usually about 20 pages of articles of how to build muscle

—- and about 174 pages of ads… mostly for supplements.

One of the most commonly over-advertised item is Whey Protein.

I say over-advertised not because it isn’t important.. it is….

… but because there are so many companies selling the same product claiming that theirs somehow magically works better than everybody else’s.

Man, take it from your ole Uncle Nuts…

If you buy pure 100% Whey Protein Isolate– (compare and get your best price!!) — you’ll get 100% of what you need, and 0% of what crap somebody wants to put it in it to make it more profitable.

Let me tell you why supplementation with Whey Protein is important in the first place.

There’s no doubt the average shmoe gets more than his daily requirement of protein, -along with way too much fat – consuming products like Big Mac’s, Hot Dogs, BBQ, fried cheese sticks, shakes, ice cream, etc.

He doesn’t work out, so he doesn’t build muscle- he wastes it.

His body doesn’t need supplemental protein.

One morning dose of a BK fastfood breakfast sandwich, and Mr. Average Softbody’s got a high fat-carb artery hardon, for Chrissake!

But if you’re working out pretty hard, you’re probably not eating that crap anyway, and your body needs GOOD QUALITY protein for muscle synthesis (new muscle fibers)– as much as 2 grams per pound of body weight.

(1-1.5 g should be ok unless you work out like the Governator, or want to bulk up real quick.)

It’s important to remember that while Carbohydrates are necessary for the proper operation of the Central Nervous System and for energy to workout—

————     Protein is the stuff that makes muscle.

Whey Protein provides plenty of BCAA’s – Branched Chain Amino Acids – nutrients that are essential for all sorts of functions in the mind and body… one of them, leucine, a key agent in strength and recovery.

It provides glutamine- used throughout the gastrointestinal system to insure healthy digestion and waste disposal – as well as being another key agent in exercise recovery.

Supplemental protein also enhances glutathione production – an antioxidant which slows the aging/mutation of cells.

It has anti-inflammatory properties, and boosts the strength of your immune system.

And it’s another extremely important element in post-exercise recovery.

There are no side-effects that have been documented with moderate use of supplemental protein, either.

Why wouldn’t every hard-working gym rat want to supplement with it?

I got no idea.

Ok, now- here’s the curve: not all proteins are created equal.

Yeah, I know what I said earlier about competing products…

………….. but that’s not what I’m talking about.

There are several forms of protein available in supplement form…

Milk proteins (like Whey, Cassein), egg proteins, and soy proteins.

While all three of these types are considered high quality bio-available proteins, Whey is considered by most body builders as the most readily synthesized..

— although if you’re one of those alternative veggie types, Soy should work almost as well until you (hopefully) evolve into a carnivore like nature intended.

(Good luck with that… in the meantime, might I suggest you take a Savate course, instead?… Oh, and keep those soy farts outta MY gym. Thanks.)

Seriously, Soy Proteins are high in certain phyto-estrogens, so it’s not a great first choice, —-

Unless, of course, you’re trying to look good in tube top, pumps, garter belt, and a micro skirt.

I can’t see it, myself.

To make it more difficult, many protein supplements aren’t 100% protein.

Remember- buy 100% protein isolate– no fillers, no junk.

I know the price has skyrocketed recently, but repeat – Don’t buy CHEAP CRAPPY PROTEIN!

You want the “isolates” instead of concentrate, if only to avoid extra lactose and fats… the cost difference is nominal.

“Hydrolysates” are fancier and much more expensive than either concentrates or isolates…

………but their easier digestibility doesn’t really make up for the cost difference.

Watch the ingredient list on the brand you’re looking at… a few carbs in the mix might serve to help get muscle synthesis going..

….  but more than a few grams will just add unwanted calories to the equation.

If I’m gonna intake carbs, I want to taste them…..

….. not gulp em down like you’ll end up doing with every protein shake you’ll ever take regularly.

YUK..

why can’t these companies make a protein supplement that doesn’t smell or taste like the inside of a bovine intestine???

Jeezzz.

In all fairness, the protein companies have ramped up the tastiness of their products in the last coupla years…

Back in the bad old days, all we had wuz smelly, gloppy egg protein powder…. and that -wuz indescribably horrific- in comparison.

I personally find Optimum Nutrition’s (ON) French Vanilla flavor not too terrible at all .. and it mixes well with all the other crap I throw in with it. “Designer Whey” tastes pretty damn good, too.. but it’s not all isolates.

There are ‘pre-mixed’ bottles of protein drinks – you’ve probably seen these in the cooler at the gym.

Again, look for a lot of added stuff… and since these are ‘pasteurized’, much of the protein has been denatured- so less of the protein is really bio-available.

And considering the taste of these products…. I think Elmer’s glue tastes better – it’s not worth the price to me.

There are protein products made for hard-gainers… these contain mucho additives, mostly in the form of carbs and fats…

Sure, they’ll put weight on ya, but eating two of mom’s lemon meringue pies a day will too.

I’m not saying these are worthless.

I’m just saying I’d rather have pie .

Here’s another curve:

There are sometimes when you might want a slow absorbing protein like cassein, instead of a quicker absorbing protein like Whey; for instance, at night before bed.

All nite long while you are sleeping ( theoretically sleeping… you might be doing all kinds of stuff other than sleeping… how the hell should I know… but if it involves more than 3 redheads, and you need help, call me )…. your body is rebuilding your muscles and creating new muscle fibers. It uses protein to do that.

But, if you took Whey at 10:30pm, by 2 am it’s all absorbed – and your protein gauge is on E.

However, Cassein takes about 4-6 hours to absorb, it’s kind of like a time release deal…

So, you got protein to burn until it’s time to tell all them girls to go the hell home.

Some guys try to get around using whey protein powder by taking AMINO tabs, BCAA’s, and Glutamine.

While I readily admit that I use these supplements myself, I use them to kick up the value of the protein powder which I also use.

They’re not a substitute for whole protein strands… which is what your body looks for to build muscle.

Interestingly enough, though…

BCAA’s are being studied because of their ability to be burned directly as fuel for a workout, when carbs are depleted.

I swear by em…. but, again they’re not a substitute- they’re a add-on.

The bottom line of Protein is this:

 You gotta have it if you’re gonna build muscle.

Too much is too much, but enough is just right.

But prepare yourself; it’s not gonna smell or taste like the girl next door.

Tough it out, buddy.

oh…., and STAY AWAY FROM THE SNACK BAR!!!