sandbags

Deloading, Nutrition, and Gym Improv

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Alright so it’s deload week for me. I hate taking them but after last week I needed a little break. My numbers are all moving up from cycle to cycle so I’m not going to mess with a good thing. Yesterday I took completely off and later today I’m going to head out and drag the sled for a bit and maybe carry my sandbag around the yard a couple times.

EDIT: Decided to just haul around the sandbag and do some grip work.  There is a large difference between a 135 pound sandbag and a 180 pound sandbag.

Since my activity levels have dropped for the week I’m lowering my calories and carbs along with it. As much as I want to move more towards a very slow recomp/lean mass gaining cycle I need to get my ass lean ASAP. I’ve been frustrated the past couple weeks thinking that I wasn’t making progress but after looking at some pictures my legs and arms are definitely getting leaner so I’m going to stick with what I was doing which wasn’t anything special. I was lifting in the AM and then back-loading all my carbs at night. Outside of my last meal it is all just protein, fat, and veggies.

Now, since I can’t afford a Prowler or sled and the gym I work at doesn’t have one then I’ve had to improvise with my clients. I also found an incredibly cheap alternative to buying something like a TRX.

Gym Improv #1- Decline Bench Prowler
If your gym has carpet or at least a surface that lets a bench slide fairly easy then you can sub out the prowler or sled with a decline bench. I found it works best to use the lowest setting on the bench. If you don’t care about having two different “handle” heights to push on then you can use a regular flat bench. To add resistance just throw some plates on the bench and push away.

Not the exact straps I have but the same fastener.

Gym Improv #2- Ratchet Strap TRX
All I did for these was purchase a pair of 6′ long (should got longer but oh well, live and learn) ratchet straps and 4 spring clips. Since the gym already has several pair of cable handles I didn’t bother attempting to make a pair. The straps I bought weren’t the traditional ratchets however, they are just a spring clip so that all I have to do is push the clip to adjust it. All you have to do is put the spring clips through either the loops sewn into the ends or through the metal loops of the hooks that are already on the straps. That’s it. Throw a handle on each one and you are ready to go.

I’ll get some video of both of these in action over the next couple of days.

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Magic Bullets and the Big Picture

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Ever since we started researching diet, exercise, and health we’ve always tried to find the one thing that will answer most, if not all of our problems. That’s why we every month we end up demonizing one particular nutrient or training method and blame a whole host of problems on them.

Over the years we’ve demonized fat, squats, and all other kinds of stuff. We’ve also tried taking a single nutrient or training method and painted them as the end-all-be-all of fitness and health.

Guess what, it’s all wrong.

We spend so much time breaking everything down and trying to find the one element of each that is either causing all the problems or creating all the benefits that we forget one important aspect:

The Sum is Greater than the Whole of It’s Parts

There is a reason that a man made antioxidant supplement doesn’t work nearly as well as actually eating a large variety of high quality fruits and veggies. It’s not about one single cog, it’s about how it works with the rest of the machine. Even though we’ve been making and researching supplements for the past 20+ years, we’re still rank amateurs compared to mother nature. Weighing and measuring poor quality food will get you far less results than focusing on eating the highest quality, highest nutrient per calorie foods.

That’s why leg pressing is an incredibly poor substitute for squats and the lat pulldown and the pec dec are poor substitutes for chins/pull ups and dips/push ups. They may use the same muscles, but the hormonal response, adaptive response, and calorie expenditure for each exercise are COMPLETELY different. If you want to build a great body with just machines you’re going to need to spend a couple grand and invest hours upon hours in the gym to get there. Conversely you can spend a fraction of that time and money to build an even better body (in my opinion) with some simple tools like barbells, body weight, and sandbags and focusing on big movements like squats, deadlifts, cleans, pull ups/chins, push ups/dips, and loaded carries.

What’s the point of looking good if you are still weak and not able to perform when it counts? Put down the psuedo-foods and step away from the pseudo-fitness machines and opt for more organic fruits, veggies, meats and fats then kick your fitness into overdrive with some squats, dips, pull ups and sled dragging!  There are no magic bullets or shortcuts.  It’s time to do the work!

Conditioning

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Darth Vader in Training

 

 

Conditioning Day!

Nothing to exciting here. It’s been rainy and wet the past couple days so the alley behind my house is a muddy, sloppy mess so sled dragging was out. So I headed outside, grabbed my kettlebell, my 90# sandbag, and my jump rope and got to work. This session was very off the wall and I just rolled with whatever came to mind as I went and I didn’t count reps so I’ll just throw out the exercises I did. The session lasted just under 20 minutes with minimal breaks.

KB Swing
KB Snatches
Jump Rope
Sandbag Squat
Sandbag Carry
Sandbag Loading
Single Leg Squat

My only goal with this was to get my heart rate up and going for 15-20 minutes. The primary two exercises I kept jumping back and forth between were the sand bag loading (over a 6′ bar) and jumping rope.