Olympic Grade DOMs

I have a passable Snatch, a fairly confident Jerk but I am afraid my Clean is just an embarrassment.

Before my blog gets to sound too smutty I must tell you that I am in week 2 of a 4-week Olympic weightlifting course and the snatch, clean and jerk are of course, powerful weightlifting moves.

The finish point of the Snatch looks like this:

The Snatch

I think I look a lot like this, only my bar has next to no weights on it and my squat is decidedly more vertical. I’m only in week 2 though, I should be giving this chap a run for his money in April.

If he saw me after last weekends session I doubt he would be worried.

The sessions last for 1.5hours and involve alternating sets with a partner. Almost every Olympic weightlifting move incorporates a full squat so I estimate that I was doing deep, weighted, squats for at least 30 minutes last Saturday.

For someone who was scared to curtsy less than 3 months ago I think that is a huge progression.

My quads certainly thought it was a huge progression.

My thighs humoured me while I insisted on walking home – 12 miles across London, but for the next four days they laughed in my face.

I suffered with quad DOMs almost as severe as my first running attempts when I found myself a prisoner in my third floor flat. This time I could make it into work and up the stairs to my desk, but from then on in I was trapped, desk bound. My legs would not function for descents.

It wasn’t so bad, the desk binding DOMs coincided with a work week from hell, where I was tied to my computer for 14 hour days and my colleagues took enough pity on me to fetch my daily supplies of black coffee.

After day 4, when my legs started to consider bending again, I started practising the squat manoevre. I dragged out the kettlebell and commenced an urgent practice before the next Olympic session. This fantastic tutorial from Nerd Fitness tells you everything you need to know to perfect the squat.

As this week’s session started I was relieved to find I could squat down to my haunches again but I soon discovered a new flaw in my Olympic weightlifting armoury – elbows.

My elbows let me down for the Clean, which is an odd unbalanced move, requiring you to flick the bar up on to your collarbones, elbows up, before dropping into a front squat.

My elbows absolutely refuse to move up. My wrists double back on themselves but still my elbows won’t budge. This means when I attempt even the teeniest hint of squat, I pitch myself forwards and lose the move completely.

I now need to spend the rest of the week adding elbow stretches to my squat routine.

Battersea Power Station

The London2Brighton training still needs to be fitted into my weekend, so I’ve added a cross London commute into the mix. I trog across the classy suburbs of London: Maida Vale, Little Venice, Paddington, South Kensington, Chelsea, Battersea, Balham, peering into the gardens and front rooms of the well to-do.

Although I’m fascinated by the Lambourghini’s littering the streets in front of the Victoria and Albert, my favourite point of the walk is the river crossing.

Sunset

I get to choose between the two most impressive structures in the whole of London: the Battersea Power Station and Albert Bridge.

I couldn’t decide which was my favourite this weekend, so spent at least an hour circling between the two, enjoying the setting sun over Hammersmith and waiting for the majestic lights on Albert Bridge to impress the dusk.

Albert Bridge

Faff and Exercise

There was considerably more faff than exercise associated with today, the 9th day of Janathon.

There was another long and frustrating day at the accountancy desk split by a particularly frustrating lunch. I had failed to prepare a slow carb pack-up and therefore slowly descended to a near starvation, stressy state because I couldn’t find a low carb snack anywhere.

When I got home the internet welcomed me with broadband speeds below 1MB which took me back to the frustrating days of dial up. I dialled up Virgin to complain and spent the next hour chatting with a nice chap, checking ping speeds, adjusting channels and polishing off a bottle of wine.

When we finished I still had a shit broadband speed, but was £30 better off and felt the comforting complacency of Chardonnay.

Still no exercise though.

20140109-230157.jpgMy trusty spotter persuaded me to dabble with the weights routine and there followed a giggly and wobbly session with excess weights.

It is remarkable that I have yet to paralyse myself with an abrupt bar to neck, shoulder press manoeuvre, or worse yet, split the veneer on the Scandinavian sideboard that sits perilously close to the barbell action.

Another Janathon completed but it breached health and safety regulations and is not to be recommended.

Pyjama Weightlifting

Pyjama weightliftingAs there is a definite pyjama trend for this year’s Janathon, I thought I would complete today’s Starting Strength routine in my Winnie the Pooh PJs.

As I’ve mentioned before, lugging Olympic weights around in confined spaces is a little hazardous, neither aided nor abetted by the wearing of loose baggy evening wear.

In search of lost earringsI require concentrated input from my loyal spotter to prevent being sandwiched between the bar and the parquet flooring. Unfortunately today my loyal spotter was a bit distracted, having just absent-mindedly lobbed her earrings into the open fire. I had to yell repeatedly to catch her attention and will have rather overworked my pecs in an effort to protect my windpipe during the bench press routine.

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Day 3 of Janathon complete, looking forward to tomorrow where Lynn runs in her first parkrun event – it threatens to be a lovely soggy day.

12 Weeks to a Sleek Body with The Fat Burn Revolution

Fat Burn RevolutionI’ve known Julia Buckley for a few years now, through the running and blogging ether. Earlier this year I decided to join in the second phase of her Fat Burn Revolution pilot scheme.

The original pilot was designed to test a program that she was planning to bring to a wider audience through the publication of a fitness manual – The Fat Burn Revolution. By coming in at the second stage I was working with a tried and tested routine and by the looks of it, it’s the version that made it into the book.

The weight loss / fat loss market is huge and it’s hard to imagine a space for yet another book on the subject. When Julia’s book dropped through the letter box I have to admit to be a little underwhelmed. I was expecting another me-too book with pretty pictures and a smattering of familiar advice.

I have to say I was wrong. The book is very pretty, really well organised and whoever was in charge of the page layout deserves a thumbs up, but the book is so much more than I expected.

Inside the Fat Burn Revolution

There is real content here. Inspiring, sensible advice from someone who comes across as a truly honest and insightful guide, a guide who encourages you to seize control of your own life by offering you the tools and the permission to be steadfast with your goals.

The tools aren’t just limited to the exercises, you will also find advice for dealing with saboteurs, the way to decline offers that intefere with your goals and how to plan to succeed.

The type of advice that resonates with me:

Always remember that it is totally up to you what you eat. You are an adult and no one can make you eat or drink anything you don’t want to.

and when dealing with potential diet and exercise sabateurs:

don’t invite unhelpful comments from others by intimating that you’d rather be doing anything else……turn it down politely, but not apologetically

As I’ve said, I have known Julia in a distant capacity for some time and having had near daily contact with her for 3 months while doing the fat burn program I can confirm that Julia is genuinely supportive and truly wants you to achieve your health goals.

The exercises and routines are very well described in the book and have full colour photos to accompany the descriptions. Just as with the program I took part in, the Fat Burn Revolution is split into 3 phases which build in intensity (not necessarily duration). There is a combination of high intensity sessions, plyometric routines and weight lifting. The weightlifting section is a refreshing addition to a mainstream fitness program but for anyone who wants to shift lard and/or develop a strong, sleek and fit body it is the secret key.

The Fat Burn Revolution is an ideal program for both beginners and more seasoned sporty types. It will lead you away from a focus on sustained endurance activities to short, sharp bursts and progressive weigh training. The ideas are likely to be new to most people.

I came to the program from years of long distance running which had initially helped me to shift about 6 stone in the early years but had allowed me to stabilise somewhere close to 5 stone above my ideal weight. After 12 weeks on the Fat Burn Revolution I had shifted another stone, much of which was fat, and most importantly I had dramatically improved my appearance and my sense of well being. If you want to see the results of someone who has completed a number of back to back sessions of the Fat Burn program you should check out Becca’s blog at From Snickers to Marathon.

I’m very grateful to Julia and her program for introducing me to the tools that my body responds to. All my programs post The Fat Burn Revolution have included more HIT and strength sessions than endurance ones and this has helped me to maintain my losses and my fitness.

If you are about to embark on this program I strongly advise you take the measurements and most importantly the horrendous before photos, these can be so inspiring to compare with at the end of each phase. Check out Julia’s transformation pages for illustrations of how the pilot groups did.

Starting Strength with the Maximuscle Olympic Barbell Set

20131228-121903.jpgI’ve been lifting weights (periodically) since I took part in Julia Buckley’s fat loss program last summer. Since then I’ve dabbled in Olympic Weightlifting and started the rapid strength program called Starting Strength.

I’m not one to make do and mend if there is an opportunity to acquire a new gadget or item of fitness equipment, and strength training offers all sorts of purchasing opportunities.

After my olympic taster session I researched olympic barbells and shocked myself into inertia when I saw a price tag of £600+ for just the olympic bar. An olympic barbell is much bigger, longer and heavier than the standard bar. It stands up to a greater weight load and also spins freely so you don’t shear the skin off your hands as you thrust the weighted bar upwards. I wasn’t convinced that I needed one at that price though.

Last month I spotted the Maximuscle Olympic Barbell set at Argos, which offered the full kit at only £199. I seized the bargain and waited patiently for the delivery.

I knew the bar was going to be big and heavy but I was surprised by its weight when it arrived. I struggled to drag the bar through to the dining room and then couldn’t find a great place to stash it away without risk of causing a serious injury. You would ideally have a garage for working out with an olympic sized barbell, its too unwieldy for the dining room really.

When I completed my next Starting Strength routine (squats, bench press, deadlifts, shoulder press) I was pretty chuffed that I needed to add weights to the bar – for a while I thought I was going to need assistance just to lift the naked bar. That’s where the other advantage of olympic bars becomes apparent. Standard bars use a spinlock mechanism to hold the weights in place, which require a lot of spinning to switch weights around, in contrast the olympic bars use a simple spring lock which slides on and off with ease. Thats a huge benefit when you work with a routine that requires mixing up your weights.

The set is huge but it oozes quality and is a joy to use – I feel like a pro as I’m squatting under the thick bar. I didn’t feel quite so professional when I had to yell for Lynn to rescue me from an imminent crush injury while I was doing the bench press though. Weightligting with barbells is a little hazardous if you are going to push yourself to the limits, so you are well advised to secure the assistance of a friendly (and strong) spotter.

I’ve just noticed, while grabbing the link to the set, that Argos who have a large range of fitness equipment, just reduced the weights to £149 which is perfect timing for any fitness resolutions you may have planned.

Olympic Weightlifting for Beginners

I didn’t really have a clue what the Olympic part meant but I knew about weightlifting and thought a couple of hours instruction by a pro would be fun.

Sally, the instructor stood next to me to demonstrate the main move. She bobbed, leapt and thrusted her way through an extremely powerful move. She slammed her feet into the floor and ended in a deep squat with a barbell above her head.

The SnatchI’d never seen The Snatch before and thought perhaps it was time for me to sidle out backwards and pretend I’d never considered Olympic weightlifting. This did not look like a great sport for a dodgy back.

I didn’t escape. Instead I relaxed into a sequence of demonstrations that were designed to split the flow of The Snatch into manageable components.

Beginners Olympic WeightliftingI dithered a bit in parts. It required coordination and I am lacking in that department but when it came to put the move together it worked remarkably well. I have no idea what I looked like, but it felt like a reasonable approximation to the real move and I felt strong.

The course was just a taster session. 1.5 hours to teach us the fundamentals of the Snatch and the Clean. Now I’m hankering after more and am eagerly awaiting the release of more dates on the full course.

Sally set up Strength Ambassadors and runs two courses:

Olympic Weightlifting for Beginners
and
Ladies who Lift

Transformation – Phase 2

Squished by a Barbell

I’ve been in a six-week workout dither since I completed Julia Buckley’s 12 week Fat Burn Revolution program.

I had some good results on the program – take a look at the transformation photos on Julia’s site for evidence, but I’ll leave you to guess who’s who. By the end of the 3 month stint though, I was ready to take control and create my own routine.

Unfortunately the new routine has taken a little while to bed in.

I was convinced of the benefit of strength training and so the new program was going to involve lifting heavy weights as well as more running. As Lynn had bought me six sessions of British Military Fitness, it was also going to include a load of running around in the local park looking like a bullied fool.

I kicked right off with Starting Strength, a remarkably simple and progressive routine for rapidly increasing strength. It’s a barbell routine, mixing up deadlifts, chest press, shoulder press and squats. It’s easy enough to master and each session is relatively short as the exercises chosen work multiple muscle groups in one go. If you use the amazing JEFIT PRO App you can grab a pre-designed starting strength routine here.

Squished by a Barbell

The strength gains are quite rapid but that also became my downfall.

I started off in the garden squatting and bench pressing a fairly manageable dumbbell, by week 3 I had to call for assistance to be released from a bar that was now heavy enough to pin me to the grass. If I want to progress much further with this I’m either going to require a squat rack contraption in the garden or I’ll need to brave the testosterone area of the local gym.

Zombies, Run!The running element is going really well, I’m strengthening my feet with Cool Running slant board and I’ve re-kindled my love of the Zombies, Run! app. The Zombie chases work perfectly with my new focus on interval training and I’m enjoying the running buzz all over again.

So although there have been some positives over the last few weeks and I haven’t been entirely lethargic I can’t claim to have  been incredibly focussed either. This week I’m stepping it up again. I’ve had a six week dither and dabble but now its time to enter the next 3 month showdown. I’ve drawn up a mega program comprising a hybrid of the intense P90X and Body Beast programs from Beachbody, combined with 1-2 BMF sessions and 3 running sessions per week.

As if all that exercise were not enough, I’m restarting the highly effective Whole 30 paleo diet plan as well.

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Here is this evenings set up for Day 1 of P90X. It may look as if I’m about to hang myself but its just the required gear for the Chest and Back session which is a mix of assisted pull ups and an assortment of push up variations.

So far so good, it’s early days and way too soon to judge the P90X program but it looks like its going to be just my cup of tea – way less intense than the nutty Insanity program with the added advantage that its focussed on weight training.

I’ll post a few updates along the way of my modified Body Beast and P90X 90 day challenge but if you want more regular updates please consider joining the newly set up warriorwomenblog facebook page which is looking very lonely or join me on twitter @warriorwoman.

 

Convict Conditioning 2 Review

Convict Conditioning 2

Convict Conditioning 2Paul “Coach” Wade is back with a second instalment of his impressive body weight calisthenics routine, Convict Conditioning 2 – from the depths of San Quentin prison

I’ve previously reviewed the original Convict Conditioning and I’m still working my way slowly through the progressions to the Big Six strength moves. I’m by no means adept at calisthenics and as I’m still at the early stage of my progressions I wasn’t sure that Convict Conditioning 2 would have anything to offer me. I feared that it would be extreme gymnastics, suitable only for Olympic ring athletes.

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Convict Conditioning 2 - The Flag progressionsAlthough it does include a chapter detailing the route towards a perfect flag, an exercise I am unlikely to ever attempt, the remainder of the book is accessible to all and is a perfect accompaniment to Convict Conditioning 1.

“Coach” Wade starts by supplementing the Big Six with a series of exercises covering the muscles at the extremities of the body. So we have exercise series for developing forearms and grip, the lateral chain (the flag) and the calves and neck.

Convict Conditioning 2 - The Hang ProgressionsForearm and hand grip strength is a prized commodity in the prison trade. Few muscles remain as visible as a big beefy pair of forearms and looking like Brutus can help keep you out of trouble in the prison courtyard.

The main exercise for strengthening grip and forearms is simply hanging. The progressions will ultimately lead you to single arm hangs from a thick length of rope, by which point you will have immensely strong grip and impressive forearms.

I won’t go in too much detail on the neck progressions, I don’t have much interest in thickening my neck. If you’re the sort who’d like a huge neck girth, perhaps to expand the canvas for suitable throat tattoo, you’d need to be working your way up to neck bridges – starting with the bridge progression shown in Convict Conditioning 1.

The calf routine is just a variation on the leg raise which most people will be familiar with.

The really interesting part of the book for me is an exercise routine known as the Convict Conditioning Triad. A trifecta of exercises recommended for the body builders who can’t or won’t relinquish the iron.

Convict Conditioning - Functional Triad
These 3 body weight exercises on their own are designed to develop supple-strength and focus on key muscles across the anterior, posterior and lateral chain. In order, the exercises are, the bridge, the L-hold and the twist.

I’m particularly interested in this routine as its simple, will oil my joints and protect my grumbling back and it will also be the ideal counterpart to my current training plan – the Starting Strength weight training program.

Convict Conditioning - Bridge ProgressionsAs with the first in the Convict Conditioning series, Paul “Coach” Wade offers a series of progressions, typically in 8 steps although I’ve only illustrated the first 6.
These are the Bridge progressions.

Convict Conditioning L-Hold Progressions

Here are the L-Hold progressions. At the moment I find it difficult to imagine ever being able to lift myself from the floor like this. My arms are pretty extended when I place the hands flat by my side so there isn’t a lot of room to perform a lift. I’ve started at the beginning though and can just about lift myself from the chair arms – very briefly.

Convict Conditioning - Twist Progressions

Here are the twist progressions. A series that I feel relatively comfortable with as I still have a bit of muscle memory from my yoga days.

Getting a full twisted stretch is going to take some time to develop though.

That covers just over half of the book. The latter section is more philosophical and includes sections on “Wisdom from Cell Block G”.

In Convict Conditioning 1, there was very little reference to prison life but in the sequel “Coach” Wade spends quite a lot of time discussing the perils, pitfalls and survival tips from inside a hardcore American state prison.

He isn’t glorifying prison in any way but he does include advice on staying clean, staying sane, and maintaining a healthy eating plan, drawing parallels between life on the inside and outside.

I’ve been really impressed with both books in the Convict Conditioning series. Together they offer you the complete body weight routine for developing huge functional strength and bullet proofing your body through the trifecta supple-strength routine.

Highly recommended.

Resources and links for Convict Conditioning

New Schemes

DumbbellsMy latest fitness and weightloss scheme is the Julia Buckley Fat Burn Revolution. A 12-week program that rotates sessions in the style of many of my previous fads. It has a definite likeness to the Body For Life program with its emphasis on protein rich meals, weight training and high intensity, short lived cardio sessions but it also mirrors the plyometric Insanity workouts with a hint of Convict Conditioning body weight training.

I’m a week in. Only 11 weeks to go to a new me.

Last week I took the before photos and spent a good 10 minutes sobbing at the results. It shouldn’t have been a shock, I weigh myself daily, I know how horrific that number is. Somehow though, the numbers managed to hide the visual impact.

The years have taken their toll and the photo emphasised the impact of gravity, the pounds have shifted downwards and my thighs are now hovering in the place my knees used to occupy.

I have high hopes for the program. Julia has achieved impressive results with previous recruits and obviously I am hoping for my own transformation. I am 10 days away from the biggest challenge of my life and 12 weeks away from my summer holiday and potential beachside humiliation.

I am completely open to transformation.

The Insanity Test

My knees have been suffering since the weekends run so I’ve decided to focus on some core training.

If I had any guts at all I’d be enrolling myself for a foundation course of crossfit but I’m sadly lacking in that department. Instead I have pulled out the Insanity DVDs so that I can sweat and groan behind closed doors.

20130115-234558.jpgFor those that haven’t heard of it, Insanity describes itself as a max-interval, extreme workout. Which means that your intensity is high for a large portion of the workout, interspersed with short recovery breaks. It’s high intensity circuit training for the home.

I’ve started back on Day 1 of the 60 day intense regime and that’s means the fitness test. 25 minutes, 8 exercises where you aim for as many repetitions as possible within 1 minute.

The exercises include a lot of jumps – vertical squat jumps, burpee jumps, globe jumps etc and a few nigh on impossible push up based exercises.

They are remarkably cruel but I quite like feeling sick after a workout.

As it was only 25 mins long I thought I might attempt a 3k on the treadmill as well. That was until I swooned in a pre-faint as I approached the machine. I think one insane session a day is good enough for Janathon.

I struggled with today’s Stout after the workout. So it’s just as well that it wasn’t worth finishing. Meantime London Stout from Greenwich has an iron filing scent, a weak flavour, possibly of bonfires and a lingering sourness. Flat and uninspiring. So that will be avoided in the future.

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