Archive Page 2

05
Nov
13

Rob Ford’s new breakout single…

DRUN-ken STU-por.

Stay tuned for the return of “All Linky, No Thinky”.  Probably.

20
Jul
13

Fact: Spiders are adorable

Told you so.  (I’m more of a fan of jumping spiders — they’re like tiny kittens with twice as many legs.)

The orb-weavers are setting up shop on my balcony railing again, murdering gnats and the occasional small housefly with verve and enthusiasm.  If they had ears I’d scrunch ‘em like a Border Collie.

15
Jul
13

Alpha-testing a massively incomplete autoregulatory bastardization of 5/3/1

…that’s what I’m doing in the gym these days.

So as I’ve mentioned before, I really like the idea of “cybernetic periodization”, which means “lifting as much as you can on any given day, but no more” rather than “replacing your body with robot parts” as you might expect.  I’ve started lifting five days a week, which is great because it means (wait for it…) I get to lift five days a week, but it’s not so great in that some of those days I’m varying degrees of beat up and can’t exactly push for PRs.  (Fun fact: This happens independently of how often I lift, because my job’s kind of engrossing and every once in a while it rises to dominate my life.)  So, what to do?

Well, I’ve had my best gains on Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1.  It’s based on the following principles:

  1. Emphasize compound barbell lifts
  2. Start too light
  3. Progress slowly
  4. Set PRs

I’m on board with 1-3, but 4 tends to give me fits.  I take it too literally, and my ego gets in the way.  So, wat do?

I started off by identifying seven lifts I care about.  You can guess what these are: squat, front squat, press, bench, snatch, clean, and deadlift.  I took recent maxes on each of these from my training logs — not special “test day” maxes, not “six months ago I could lift this” maxes, not “on a good day I ought to be able to hit” maxes, but stuff I’ve done recently for clean singles.  Then I took 85% of those.

That’s my target lift for the day.  It’s a lift I ought to be able to hit for a single no matter what life throws at me, provided that I’m actually healthy enough to get to the gym and not spread cholera.

So on squat day, for example, I’ll work up to a single at my target weight.  This is not taxing; in fact, it’s basically a warmup.  From there, I proceed by feel.  Did that single feel snappy and smooth?  Add five or ten pounds and do another single, then reassess.  Did it feel slow, grindy, or awkward?  Maybe some technique issues need addressing?  Hit another single, and reassess.  They’re just singles, so they go by quickly — lots of lifts in a short time.  Changing the weights is usually enough rest.  Keep going as long as it feels good, adding weight when reasonable.

Did that single say “fuck this, I’m done”?  Move on to backoff sets.  Backoff sets are free-form, just get them done.  Some days it’s five sets of three at the target weight or above; some days it’s one set of five at 50% and get the fuck out.  The only rule here is “do some backoffs”.

If the day’s big lift is a squat, I just squat.  If it’s a press of some sort, I try to superset in chins or DB rows.  If it’s a snatch or a clean, I throw in a Klokov press or a jerk after each rep until I can’t any more, then I don’t worry about it.  Supersetting is, again, something I don’t think too hard about.

Deadlifts are a special case in that I don’t do ‘em as a major lift, I work them in after presses.  And I don’t do backoffs.  My guess is that I’m demanding enough of my recovery capacity without lots of deadlift volume on the regular, and putting them after the main lift limits the load I can use.

Once I’ve finished the main lift (or superset), I work in whatever else I need to complete the “push, pull, squat” trifecta.  If I squatted, I’ll do a push/pull superset like dips and chins.  If I pressed or pulled, I’ll do something squat-like, counting deadlifts (as above) and their variations (I particularly like snatch-grip deadlifts in here).  Again, I don’t think too hard about it, I just get it done.  Eight sets of five feels about right?  Okay.  Five sets of three?  Okay.

After that, I do some accessory work, conditioning, grip, whatever.  I try to make sure I get out of the gym in less than an hour, which usually leaves time for a few sets of curls or rotator-cuff work and a bunch of wrist curls (believe it or not, fellow nerds, they’ll make typing all day a much less painful experience).  If I’m having a bad day, my rest periods are long, and I barely get into accessory work?  No big deal, I hit the important things.  If I’m having a good day and squatting heavy singles forever, again, no big deal, I hit the important thing.  As Matt Perryman says: the more you lift, the less bad days matter.  You can always come back the next day and hit it again.

Progression is simple.  The target for any given lift is supposed to be a weight I can hit no matter how bad I’m feeling, as long as I’m feeling good enough to go lift.  If I hit (or exceed?) that weight for four workouts in a row, I’ll add five or ten pounds.  After four workouts I should have a decent idea of how much I can increase the target, if at all.

Does it work?  I don’t know yet.  I’m not competing in anything, so I’m not paying attention to (actual or calculated) maxes on any of my lifts.  The idea behind this is to maximize “total training effect” — that if I get into the gym and lift often enough, I’m going to get stronger.  So far my bench (of all things) has been feeling strong, and I’ve set a massive PR on reps on overhead squats — which, unsurprisingly, left me floored for the next couple workouts.  Mostly, lifting this way just feels fun and comfortable, and I’m finding ways to improve my lifts incrementally week by week.

I’m not suggesting any of you go out and do the same, or that I’ve found the next big thing, or even that I wouldn’t be better off just lifting on 5/3/1.  But so far I’m pretty pleased with this, and I thought I’d give it some air time.

13
Jul
13

Two new lifting ebooks you should read

The first is Matt Perryman’s Squat Every Day.  I titled this post “lifting ebooks”, but SED is of vastly broader interest — it’s a look at the human stress response, acute and chronic, psych- and physiological, through the lens of high volume resistance training (“Bulgarian style”, if you like).  It’s really, really good, and it’s seven bucks.  If you have any interest whatsoever in my training and nutrition posts, you really ought to pick this up.

The second is Jim Wendler’s Beyond 5/3/1.  It’s more or less exactly what it says on the tin — an occasionally-disorganized cornucopia of ideas for taking your training beyond the standard 5/3/1 format.  If you’re not familiar with 5/3/1, get one of his other ebooks first.  At twenty-five bucks, it’s not the no-brainer Squat Every Day is, but it’s stuffed full of good content, worth reading and re-reading like Wendler’s other books.

09
Jul
13

Gettin’ Shredded: A brief and subjective review of the Ultimate Diet 2.0

A few months ago I did four weeks of Lyle McDonald’s Ultimate Diet 2.0.  In terms of fat lost per unit time, it’s probably the most effective thing I’ve tried, and if my adventures in carb backloading stall out I’ll probably go back to it.

Overview

UD2.0 is a weekly carb-cycling diet.  You spend roughly four days in a severe caloric deficit, flirting with if not actually bathing in ketosis, and burn fat and glycogen like nobody’s business.  After one last workout to fully deplete your glycogen stores and prepare your muscle tissue for an insulin rush, you carb up like a motherfucker over the next 30 hours.  After your carb-up, you lift heavy for a couple of days, then finish up a high-volume glycogen-depleting workout and start again.

The premise, briefly, is that you’ll burn through a pound or more of fat in the four-day deficit, and when you carb up your liver and muscle tissue will be so thirsty for glycogen that you won’t store any carbs as fat.  The carb-up is intended to normalize your metabolism after a few days of frankly ridiculous dieting, and the subsequent lifting ought to rebuild any muscle you lost during that short diet.  If you want more details, go buy Lyle’s ebook, it’s great.  (And also a lot more comprehensive than anything I’m likely to write.)

A week in the life

Sunday is the last day of relatively free eating over the weekend.  You eat low-carb at more or less maintenance calories, and you lift heavy.  For me, this was “pulls” day — snatches, then cleans, then deadlifts.  You’re still carbed up, either from the previous Friday or from whatever you were doing before starting UD2.0, so this is no harder than usual.  Tell any beer left in your fridge that you love it and switch to whiskey and soda, or maybe just soda.

Monday sucks more than Mondays usually do because you’re at 50% maintenance.  Pull out every trick in the book and tell yourself it’s in a good cause.  Hit the gym after work and rep out on big movements — front squats, RDLs, dips, and rows for many sets of ten.  Gaze longingly at the sushi place across the road as you pull out a protein shake and go home to your can of salmon.  Dull the pain with a glass of bourbon IIFYM.

Tuesday and Wednesday are worse than Monday because you don’t even get to lift.  Well, you can lift Tuesday if you want, but you probably can’t lift much.  Listen to Pantera and tell yourself what a hardcore physical culturist you are.  Have an ounce of the hard stuff IIFYM.

Thursday morning you’ll be slavering over the carb-load to come, but before you get there you need to lift.  This workout’s lower-rep than Monday’s, but if you’re anything like me you’ll be disappointed with the weight on the bar.  Deploy your highest-powered pre-workout and your crunchiest, filthiest metal.  Keep at it until you peel yourself off the gym floor and drag your sorry glycogen-depleted carcass over to the tube of Rockets in your gym bag.  It’s time for…

The carb-load.  At this point, if you’ve done your part in the gym and if you avoid excesses of fructose (and its polymers), you almost certainly cannot eat enough carbs over the next day and a half to gain any fat.  Your job, your solemn duty, is to try.  At this point you’re probably wrecking forty bucks worth of sushi and feeling like a kid at Christmas –

Dear Santa, for carb-load I want a pound of Rockets and two cans of Pringles and enough maki to choke a horse and then some burritos and… and…

– and there’s nothing wrong with that, that attitude is what you need to carry you through the carb-load.  Because when you go to sleep on Thursday night, snug in the swole arms of leptin and anabolism, the magnitude of your chosen task begins to dawn and you realize you’ve barely made a dent in the thousand-odd grams of carbs you need to consume if you want to do this right.

Friday starts early.  You get up, you take a shit, and you put water to boil.  One pot is for breakfast, which is two packets of cheap-ass ramen.  The other pot is for white rice.  While the rice cooks you wolf down noodles and MSG and whip up protein to mix with the rice.  You pack that shit in Tupperware and mix protein powder with improbable amounts of creatine and waxy maize and get out the door to work.  Try to shower in there somewhere.

Your co-workers, who by now are probably used to your ketogenic ways, won’t expect to see you in the kitchen microwaving a bowl of rice with bacon, eggs, and a bunch of Sriracha on top, so they’ll make unfunny jokes which you’ll ignore.  Slam that rice and protein, and then mix up a protein shake with so much waxy maize in it that it tastes like drinking a panel of waterlogged chocolate-flavoured drywall.  It’s ten-thirty and your endocrine system’s yelling at you to stop eating, but you can’t.  Lunch is a sushi run.  As soon as you can manage, finish off that rice and protein and the rest of your protein-carb shakes, and work your way grimly through a bag or three of chips from the vending machine.  Insulin might be making you groggy – no coffee!  Coffee is an appetite suppressant, get your caffeine from tablets.  Leave the Coke and its high-fructose corn syrup in the fridge.

Quitting time and you just want to go home and sleep off the massive insulin rush you’ve inflicted upon yourself, but it’s Friday Night, Man, and for a nerd like me that means gaming.  Hit the liquor store on the way home for eight tall cans of Guinness — twelve if you have to share — and a couple enormous bags of chips.  Your friends aren’t ready for this, they’re expecting a veggie tray or a bag of jerky and maybe a bottle of whiskey.  Everything you’ve suffered since Sunday night pays off when you look them deadpan in their wide, startled eyes, gesture to the starchy feast in front of you, and explain “I’m on a diet.”  Mix some creatine into your beer just to ice that particular cake.  Then roll twenties.

Saturday is maybe a better time for everything to pay off.  You’re five to eight pounds heavier than you were on Thursday morning, and more vascular to boot.  Your muscles are loaded with water, glycogen, and pure burning hatred of weakness and inadequacy.  GO SQUAT.  Squats and presses and chins, oh my, all the pure strength work you love for lots of low-rep sets, and you’re stomping around the gym like Duke Nukem when he’s all out of bubblegum.  Give both your psyche and your digestive tract a break and eat at maintenance, with plenty of veggies, steak, and India Pale Ale.

Then do it all over again.

Verdict

UD2.0 is frighteningly efficient at ripping fat off your body.  What’s more, between the carb-load, the weekend lifting, and the fact that you’re constantly changing something related to your eating patterns, it’s also somewhere between fun and engrossing.  If a safe, effective, dreary targeted ketogenic diet bores you to tears… well, UD2.0 won’t bore you to tears.

One downside is that it’s stressful.  Eating low-cal low-carb Monday through most of Thursday sucks.  Glycogen depletion workouts on Mondays and glycogen-depleted workouts on Thursdays suck.  Even carb loads kind of suck once you get halfway through Friday and realize you still have 500g of fucking carbs to eat before roughly midnight.  If the rest of your life isn’t chugging along on a happy stable path, you’re gonna have a bad time.

Another downside is that it requires some fairly specialized workouts.  Applying the “athlete variations” from the back of the book help this out a little, but UD2.0 needs you to do glycogen-depletion work at the beginning of the week, tension work right before the carb-up, and strength work over the weekend.  Don’t like glycogen depletion workouts?  Join the club, we meet Monday nights.  At the gym.

But the good news is that UD2.0 is sufficiently effective that, if you’re reasonably lean to begin with (and if you’re not Lyle suggests you try something that’s less of a pain in the ass until you are), you probably won’t need to run it for more than about a month or two.

08
Jul
13

Very good sentences

Bryan Caplan:

The rarity of do-nothing policies is no more puzzling than the rarity of keeping your hands off your mosquito bites.

01
Jul
13

Another case of the journalism majors

The attentive reader will recall that I’m not a big fan of the New York Times.  I’ll let Jalopnik provide one more datum:

The New York Times ran a piece this weekend with the foreboding title “THE END OF CAR CULTURE” (and people accuse us of clickbait). Here’s why you should take that claim with a grain of yellow cake uranium.

Zing!

Also, vintage car porn:

That’s Ari Vatanen demolishing Pike’s Peak before they went and paved everything.




anarchocapitalist agitprop

Be advised

I say fuck a lot

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