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Posts Tagged ‘farmer’s walks’

warm up

January 8, 2013 Leave a comment

We had a little stretch of colder weather, although really it was just about seasonable averages, and nothing super frigid. Now the forecast for the next 10 days is calling for temperatures some 6 to 15 degrees above average, so it’s going to be a bit of a mild run. Maybe I’ll be able to golf this weekend, the course was still shut down last weekend because things had frozen up enough and even though it had grown milder over the weekend, there was a think skin of muck on top of the frozen layer underneath.

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The deadlifts on Saturday went well. I went in to the last working set expecting maybe 8 or 9 reps if I was feeling right and pulling well. I pulled 10 and probably had 1 or 2 reps left in me still. If one-rep max calculators are right, I could maybe pull a 300-lb max single rep now. Not a bad improvement over when I got started again last November and my max might have been around 230 to 235 lbs. I’ve also added in a new wrinkle. After resting up some from the last heavy working set, I drop the weight down and then do a set of 20 reps with that lighter weight. It seems to work and feel good, so I’m going with it.

Then I did farmer’s walks after the deadlifts. Sunday I did chin ups, dumbbell swings, and barbell glute bridges.

Last night, in spite of it being a recovery day, I got bored some and did some sets of kroc rows. They should be a good upper body pulling and grip exercise for me to do.

Getting really close to finally closing the Captains of Crush #2 with the right hand. Also getting close to finally closing the #1 with the left hand. My left hand has always been weaker and clumsier. The disparity with the right is exacerbated some by the ring finger on my left hand — 5 years or so back, when I first tried training grip some, I overdid the number of reps with the left hand and it caused a trigger finger to develop in the ring finger. Over time, the swelling that the tendon sheath would catch on has gone down and the finger doesn’t catch anymore, but obviously, I want to be careful that I don’t create that again, plus I can feel a sense of the finger wanting to catch when I do close the hand and ring finger, just a slight feeling like there is still a tiny swelling in there — and that swelling does keep my left hand from closing with completely full strength.

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I had a bad dream last night where I dreamed I was being pulled apart on some sort of factory assembly line. The dream had this overwhelming feeling and theme of an idea how since the industrial revolution and the development of replacement and interchangeable parts, we human beings have come to view others around us an interchangeable, as replaceable. Maybe that’s even true. But even if it is true, it feels sad to me.

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split pea

January 2, 2013 Leave a comment

I began craving split pea soup on New Year’s Eve, so yesterday morning I went to the market and bought some ham and dried green peas. The soup cooked up quite nicely. Along with the ham and peas, I also used carrots, a potato, some milk and butter, Canadian maple syrup, tabasco, salt, pepper, and paprika. The tabasco, pepper and paprika gave the soup a nice little zip to the flavor against the slight sweetness from the ham and syrup that I had used. It made for a good lunch and dinner on a chilly first day of 2013, and the remainder has been packed into containers for lunches at work for the rest of the week.

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When I woke up yesterday, there only remained a faint tickle which could make me cough lightly and a tiny sliver of nasal drip. Strength wise, I felt a bit off, but mostly recovered. So I decided to do the deadlifts and farmer’s walks yesterday. The decision I made was to start the 2-week plan I had begun last week over again. Somehow it made sense. Just start from there again.

The first thing is that I don’t think I was entirely full strength yesterday. One weird effect of that was the first rep of each of the 3 working sets of deadlifts felt strangely heavy. I could almost feel the aches of the flu back on Saturday in those initial reps. But the rest of the reps would tend to feel almost progressively better. And the final result was that in the last set where I would do as many reps as possible, I did one rep more than when I had used that weight the prior week. That was the clearest sign to me that I was nearly fully recovered, and that felt good, felt good to know that I was fairly healthy again and that I could get back to work on getting stronger.

It was after the deadlifts that I got the soup cooking for lunch and dinner.

In the afternoon, I took a short walk to help me get back to the goal of taking 10,000 steps every day. The effects of the flu had kept me from that for 4 days, a stretch where the pedometer only counted 17558 steps. Then late in the afternoon I did a series of farmer’s walks and in the evening I foam-rolled and stretched.

And I woke up feeling pretty nearly flu-effect free this morning. I still have a slight sensation that I can’t take a full deep breath into my lungs without the risk of coughing, but the nasal drip is completely gone. Strength wise I feel pretty good. So I guess the flu is very much behind me now and I am glad about that.

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On Saturday, when I was at my most ill, I watched Forrest Gump again. I saw it once before back in the 1990s and liked it then okay enough, although I got annoyed a great deal by the cultural tide it created where people would often say some of the Forrest Gumpisms. Saturday when I watched it I was even less impressed with it. Some of that disenchantment was due to what I’ve learned about physical effort and well-being. One of the famous sorts of scenes from the movie are the ones where Forrest is being picked upon by bullies and his childhood friend Jenny yells at him, “Run, Forrest, run!” Yeah, I’m sure all those kids back when they used to put so many of them into leg braces will tell you about the time they were able to begin running like the wind after being stuck in braces, that they were able to run themselves right out of their braces.

Yes, I realize that Forrest Gump is fictional, but even fiction has its limits. That sort of disparity with the laws of reality in Gump’s fictional universe is unbelievable to me. It very much damages the narrative.

But later I began thinking about it more. What if? I think that many times people watch Forrest Gump and get suckered into thinking to take Forrest at his word. He is just a simple man, talking plainly about things he’s seen and done. What if that’s not so? What if Forrest is an unreliable narrator? What if the movie is a tale of things that he’s imagined, that he’s fantasized, that he’s made up and lied about?

Suddenly, if you start thinking about it that way, it’s not just a somewhat melancholy tale of a simple man who achieved a lot and loved a woman, a woman who eventually came to appreciate his devotion and married him before she passed away. Maybe instead Forrest and Jenny were childhood friends, but eventually with her growing up and growing older, she left him behind, a combination of wanting to escape the location of her abusive childhood and once gone, she never wrote back to Forrest, because she found his devotion/obsession a bit too threatening and weird. So Forrest Gump is no longer a hero. He is instead just a sort of strange tragedy, someone who not because of any really conscious fault of his own, is just not well-suited to the world. One who has not achieved any measure of greatness, but has only imagined himself doing great things — playing football for Alabama, winning a Congressional Medal of Honor, running back and forth across America 3 or 4 times, has imagined himself flawlessly loving, protecting and honoring Jenny as best he can, having had a son who is just like him but finally smart. What if the last scene of the movie was completely imagined? There was no Forrest junior. It was just Forrest returning to where his bus stop was when he was a kid, and imagining that he now is sending a son of his own off to school, a son that he and Jenny had?

Now, if Forrest Gump exists as a great movie, it is not one that sees Forrest Gump as telling a straight and truthful tale, it is one where he is seen as somewhat deluded and lying, and trying to see how many of us he can con into believing he was some simple paragon of virtue out of America’s turbulent past.

flu?

December 28, 2012 Leave a comment

I woke up about 4:30 this morning and have since found myself with a slight tickle and cough, little bit of tickle in the nose too and general sense of blah. There’s supposed to be a lot of flu going around right now and I’ve heard that one of the strains circulating wasn’t in this season’s vaccine. If it is that flu strain I’ve caught, I’ll hope that the vaccine will provide me some boost in immunity against it so it doesn’t lay me out.

It’s disappointing some because I went to bed last night feeling good after a strong workout where I squatted, did some farmer’s walks, and chin ups with isometric holds at various angles. It felt energizing almost, a bit of satisfaction at having done the work to improve strength. And even if it meant some chance that I might wake up a bit sore in places from that workout today, I wouldn’t have minded it.

I’ll have to see how I feel tomorrow morning and make a decision then on whether or not to deadlift. It will be a little frustrating if I have to cancel any scheduled workouts. It’s been a small source of rejuvenation for my mood that I can feel myself getting stronger and can see the difference in how my body looks again. Although the legs are still very skinny, but I think now that I’m smarter and more knowledgeable, I will be able to make my legs grow some more. One big part of that, I believe, will be doing plenty of deep and effective squatting, along with the work I’m doing to improve the function of my glutes. Increasing the muscle mass in my legs seems particularly more important in view of how a Danish study found a link between lack of muscle in the thighs and heart attack risk. It occurs in both women and men, so that’s another good reason for women to squat and deadlift. Being strong as you get older not only helps protect you against falls and frailty, but also can help protect the heart and metabolism.

Yuck, as I took a break from working on this, I began to feel the first bits of fever. All I can do now is hope that it doesn’t last too long and I get back to full health soon. Also getting the first sensation of just wanting to crawl into a bed, pull the covers over me and go to sleep. I like to sleep when I get sick, that seems to do more than anything else on helping me recover. Sleep seems to be my body’s way of shutting down things so the immune system can get to work.

glutes and hamstrings versus the quads

December 14, 2012 Leave a comment

The 2 largest muscle groups in the human body are the glutes and the hamstrings. It’s that backside that ought to be propelling you along when you walk and run. But it may be that in this day and age of comfortable chairs and jobs sitting at a desk much of the time, that many people have a posterior chain of reduced consequence. I was thinking about that yesterday as I tried to remain conscious that when I go up the steps, that I put my heel down on the step and drive myself upwards through my heel.

I also carried that same thought into the deadlifts of last evening. I wanted to feel very strongly that I was pushing the basement floor away with my heels. It seemed to work nicely, too. The pulls felt strong and I went to 10 reps, the same number of reps I did last Saturday but with 10 lbs less on the bar.

After deadlifting, I then did some farmer’s walks and closed out with carrying a sandbag with over half my bodyweight for about a 1/4 mile of distance. All in all, it was a good workout. I already feel a lot stronger than almost 4 weeks ago and it feels like I’m being smarter about my training than when I first began fumbling around with strength training back in 2007 — I’m paying more attention to the lower body and paying very close attention that I improve how much the glutes and hamstrings are doing what should be their proper share. If I’m correct in my suspicions, I don’t think it’ll be any great difficulty for me to move past my old deadlift PR. A little over 2x my own bodyweight ain’t a terrible PR, but it’s probably far short of what I should be able to achieve.

Another way I’ve been focusing on reactivating the glutes and hamstrings is to do simple squats more often. Now, when I go to the wood stove and check how it’s doing, I squat down instead of dropping to one or both knees. Doing that, along with the goblet squats in warmups before lifting, has helped a lot with me restoring better hip mobility, and use of the glutes and hamstrings when standing up.

Another daily use trick has been to change how I sit in my office chair. Instead of sitting back fully in it, I sit at the edge of it and with my left and right legs forming a right angle with each other. Then when I stand up, I do it with the thought of the glutes driving my body straight up.

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I almost didn’t want to get out of the bed cocoon this morning. It was one of the colder night we’ve had lately, and it was really nice in that warm shell. The bedroom had become quite chilly overnight.